Mondo Christmas

Mondo Christmas

Whilst most Christmas based media is sentimental bilge there are nuggets that are worth hunting out.


View Meathook Cinemas guide to Mondo Christmas. Brace yourself for festive horror, glam rock Christmas messages and LSD inspired Yuletide childrens movies. And much, much more…

Something Weird

Something Weird

I became a fan of Herschell Gordon Lewis after reading about his work in the RE:Search book Incredibly Strange Films book (if you don’t own this tome then buy it NOW!!! Its been a major influence and point of reference in my cult film adoration).

71iypxbvgtl

Around this time there was an episode of Jonathan Ross’ excellent Incredibly Strange Film Show devoted to Lewis and his work that I lapped up.

I then bought a copy of Two Thousand Maniacs on VHS in Forbidden Planet on first moving to London in the mid-90s. And boy, did it rock my world. Quirky, innovative, funny, full of character and gory as hell.

two_thousand_maniacs_poster_021

From that moment on I became dedicated to buying as much of Lewis’ work as possible. Next came Blood Feast and then She-Devils on Wheels. Both masterpieces, both seminal films.

What’s more, my other cinematic heroes seemed to hold Lewis up for canonisation just as I did.

tumblr_nxowc0ymoa1u6tbklo1_500
The Pope of Puke meets his hero

I was gobsmacked when I heard that Arrow Video were to release a new boxset of his work. And from what I’ve seen it’s quite some boxset! Arrow Video go from strength to strength. I’m so glad they treat the films that I hold close to my heart with the respect and love that I know they deserve.

The good people at Dread Central have just released this boxset unboxing video for us to salivate over-

Here’s what is in the boxset via the press release-

The Herschell Gordon Lewis Feast
[Blu-ray + DVD – 17 discs] (October 25th)
Limited to 2500 copies!
Director: Herschell Gordon Lewis

In 1963, director Herschell Gordon Lewis pulled a cow’s tongue out of an actress’ mouth on camera, and in doing so, changed the landscape of horror cinema forever. That sequence was just one of numerous gruesome gags featured in Blood Feast, the film credited as being the world’s first gore movie. It’s no exaggeration to say that the modern gross-out movies of today owe their very existence to the pioneering efforts of H.G. Lewis. But whilst Lewis is most widely celebrated for his blood-and-guts epics (Two Thousand Maniacs!, The Wizard of Gore et al.), there’s more to the prolific director than splatter.

From tales of sordid photographers (Scum of the Earth) to sex robots (How to Make a Doll), from biker girl-gangs (She-Devils on Wheels) to youths-run-amok (Just for the Hell of It), and from psychic witches (Something Weird) to hard liquor-loving hillbillies (Moonshine Mountain), the filmography of H.G. Lewis reads like a veritable wish-list of exploitation movie madness.

Now, for the first time ever, Arrow Video is proud to present fourteen of the Godfather of Gore’s most essential films (including nine Blu-ray world debuts), collected together at last and packed full of eye-popping bonus content. So put your feet up, pour yourself a glass of good ol’ moonshine, and prepare yourself for a feast – H.G. Lewis style!

Features:

Fourteen of the Godfather of Gore’s finest attractions, newly restored from original and best surviving vault materials
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of the features and extras on 7 Blu-ray and 7 DVD discs
Additional 2 bonus Blu-rays featuring 1.33:1 versions of Blood Feast, Scum of the Earth, Color Me Blood Red, A Taste of Blood and The Wizard of Gore [limited editions exclusive]
Additional bonus DVD: Herschell Gordon Lewis: The Godfather of Gore documentary [limited editions exclusive]
28-page H.G. Lewis “annual” stuffed full with Lewis-themed activities plus archive promotional material [limited editions exclusive]
Newly illustrated packaging by The Twins of Evil [Feast edition exclusive]

BLOOD FEAST (1963) + SCUM OF THE EARTH (1963)

Brand new introduction to the films by director Herschell Gordon Lewis
Audio Commentary on Blood Feast with Lewis and producer David F. Friedman
Audio Commentary on Scum of the Earth by Friedman
Blood Feast Outtakes
Blood Perceptions – filmmakers Nicholas McCarthy (The Pact) and Rodney Ascher (Room 237) offer their insight on Blood Feast and the importance of Herschell Gordon Lewis
Herschell’s History – archival interview in which Lewis discusses his entry into the film industry including Scum of the Earth
How Herschell Found His Nitch – Lewis discusses more of his early work in nudie cuties and the making of The Adventures of Lucky Pierre
Archival Interview with Herschell Gordon Lewis and David F. Friedman from 1987
Carving Magic (1959) – vintage short featuring Blood Feast‘s Bill Kerwin
Blood Feast Radio Spot and Trailer

TWO THOUSAND MANIACS! (1964) + MOONSHINE MOUNTAIN (1964)

Brand new introduction to the films by director Herschell Gordon Lewis
Audio Commentary on Two Thousand Maniacs! with Lewis and producer David F. Friedman
Two Thousand Maniacs! Outtakes
Two Thousand Maniacs Can’t Be Wrong – Tim Sullivan (director, 2001 Maniacs) on Two Thousand Maniacs!
Hicksploitation: Confidential – visual essay on the history of the American South’s representation in cinema
David Friedman: The Gentlemen’s Smut Peddler – a tribute to the legendary producer featuring – Herschell Gordon Lewis, filmmakers Fred Olen Ray, Tim Sullivan and Bob Murawski
Herschell’s Art of Advertising – Lewis shares his expert opinion on the art of selling movies and how to hook an audience.
Trailers for Two Thousands Maniacs! and Moonshine Mountain

COLOR ME BLOOD RED (1965) + SOMETHING WEIRD (1967)

Brand new introduction to the films by director Herschell Gordon Lewis
Audio Commentary on Color Me Blood Red with Lewis and producer David F. Friedman
Audio Commentary on Something Weird with Lewis and Friedman
Color Me Blood Red Outtakes
The Art of Madness – visual essay on the recurring motif of mad artists as killers in horror cinema
Weirdsville – film Scholar Jeffrey Sconce on Something Weird
Lewis on Jimmy, the Boy Wonder, his 1966 children’s musical
A Hot Night at the Go Go Lounge! – Lewis’ 1966 dance short
Trailers for Color Me Blood Red and Something Weird

THE GRUESOME TWOSOME (1967) + A TASTE OF BLOOD (1967)

Brand new introduction to the films by director Herschell Gordon Lewis
Audio Commentary on The Gruesome Twosome with Lewis
Audio Commentary on A Taste of Blood with Lewis
Peaches Christ Flips Her Wig! – the San Francisco performer on The Gruesome Twosome
It Came From Florida – filmmaker Fred Olen Ray (Scalps) on Florida Filmmaking
Herschell vs The Censors – Lewis discusses some of the pitfalls involving local censorship and the lengths to which angry moviegoers tried to stop him
Trailers for The Gruesome Twosome and A Taste of Blood

SHE-DEVILS ON WHEELS (1968) + JUST FOR THE HELL OF IT (1968)

Brand new introduction to the films by director Herschell Gordon Lewis
Audio Commentary on She-Devils on Wheels with Lewis
Garage Punk Gore – filmmaker and musician Chris Alexander discusses the films and music of Herschell Gordon Lewis
The Shocking Truth! – Bob Murawski on his lifelong love for Herschell Gordon Lewis and what he has learned from Lewis’ films
Lewis on his 1968 film The Alley Tramp
She-Devils on Wheels Radio Spot
Trailers for She-Devils on Wheels and Just for the Hell of It

HOW TO MAKE A DOLL (1968) + THE WIZARD OF GORE (1970)

Brand new introduction to the films by director Herschell Gordon Lewis
Audio Commentary on The Wizard of Gore with Lewis
Montag Speaks – a brand new interview with Wizard of Gore actor Ray Sager
The Gore The Merrier – an interview with Jeremy Kasten, director of the 2007 Wizard of Gore remake
The Incredibly Strange Film Show: Herschell Gordon Lewis “The Godfather of Gore” – episode of the Jonathan Ross-hosted documentary series focusing on Lewis’ films, featuring interviews with Lewis, producer David F. Friedman, actor Bill Kerwin, etc
The Wizard of Gore Trailer

THIS STUFF’LL KILL YA! (1971) + THE GORE GORE GIRLS (1972)

Brand new introduction to the films by director Herschell Gordon Lewis
Audio Commentary on The Gore Gore Girls with Herschell Gordon Lewis
Audio Commentary on This Stuff’ll Kill Ya! by camera operator and Lewis biographer Daniel Krogh
Regional Bloodshed – filmmakers Joe Swanberg and Spencer Parsons discuss the Midwestern roots and work ethic of Lewis’ output and how The Gore Gore Girls represents the shift into transgressive ’70s cinema that would dominate the American horror lan
Herschell Spills His Guts – Lewis discusses his career post-The Gore Gore Girls, why he left the film industry and his role as a leading figure in the copywriting industry
Gore Gore Girls Radio Spot
Trailers for This Stuff’ll Kill Ya! and The Gore Gore Girls

Wow! I need this in my life. Find it HERE if you live in the UK or HERE if you live in the US.

quote-i-see-filmmaking-as-a-business-and-pity-anyone-who-regards-it-as-an-art-form-herschell-gordon-lewis-70-75-13

Beyond The Door – Day 9 – 31 Days of Halloween

Beyond The Door – Day 9 – 31 Days of Halloween

A mark that you’ve made a great movie is when your film spawns a number of imitators. One such movie is The Exorcist.


One such imitator is Beyond The Door. But whilst some imitators are pale and shoddy rip offs, this film is amazing.

Starring esteemed actress Juliet Mills this deals with her posession and pregnancy.

Cue plenty of body horror grossness, surreal scenarios (you haven’t lived until you see her eat a discarded banana skin) and much profanity. Add to the mix a potty mouthed child and you have a great cinematic experience. The film is also beautifully shot and staged. It has a feel all of its own.

Apparently Mills is extremely proud of this movie. And so she should be.
4 out of 5

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) – Day 7- 31 Days of Halloween

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) – Day 7- 31 Days of Halloween

This is the movie that made me into a major fan of horror and cult cinema in general. I saw this when I was 11 years old on its release onto video. Since then I watched it numerous times and know it off by heart.

a-nightmare-on-elm-street-cbs-fox-vhs-full
The original UK video artwork

With a film so ingrained into my psyche it would have very easy to watch it again for this review and miss out details and nuances that I would tend to subconsciously gloss over. Such is the tendency on watching a film so many times. I have therefore made a real effort to watch this again with fresh eyes and ears and imagine seeing it for the first time. Here goes.

One thing that strikes me is Wes Craven’s subversion of the horror genre. Like Halloween, this film is presented as a teen movie. Tina talking to Nancy about the dream she had the night before is punctuated by Rod talking about waking up with a hard on. The teen girls talk is penetrated (pun not intended) by a horny teen male’s talk of sex. But then Craven subverts the 80s teen genre with the brutality of the following events just like Romero subverted the horror drive in sub-genre with the brutality and pessimism within Night of the Living Dead. ANOES reads like a knowingly atypical 80s teen movie up until Tina’s quite extraordinarily violent demise.

besties-on-elm-street
Teen movie girls just hanging out

The scene of Glen playing the airplane sound effect tape also plays like a scene from an 80s teen movie. Again, Tina’s death shows that this is no ordinary 80s horror movie depicting teens. Instead it stands out as an intelligent horror film that is just as violent as the most shocking video nasty Mary Whitehouse was trying to ban.

Not only is Tina’s death too graphic for an average 80s horror movie, its also too innovative. Tina literally climbs the walls and ends up on the ceiling. If Lionel Ritchie wants to dance on the ceiling then Wes Craven wants to portray a more realist depiction of the 80s- a bloodied victim being lifted skyward and killed on the ceiling.

nightmare-on-elm-street-tina-death
Teen movie subverted

Tina’s death also subverts horror film conventions like Psycho and Night of the Living Dead did. The female character we presume to be the female lead is dispatched of early on in the film just like Marion Crane was in the shower and Barbara was made incapacitated via her catatonic state.

Thus it is left to Nancy Thompson to become the film’s heroine. She fulfils all of the classic attributes for being a Final Girl. Where as Tina has been shown to have just had sex with Rod, Nancy is shown as chaste by rejecting her boyfriend Glen’s invitation for a game of hide the salami.

There are several incidents and signs that make Nancy realise the truth about the dream world, whatever happens in it and how elements from this world can be brought into the real world. The burn on her arm during the classroom dream, the single feather she sees floating out of her bedroom window, the cuts on her arm and the appearance of Freddy’s hat she retrieves in the dream clinic are all used for Nancy to gain knowledge which leads to Nancy eventually applying this logic to bring Freddy out of her dream so that he can be defeated. This demonstrates another Final Girl attribute- shes smart.

s-l1600-2
The Final Girl uses her resourceful and logic to hatch a plan

There is a sequence that shows where Nancy may have got her Final Girl attributes from- her mother. When Nancy is almost killed in the bathtub, Marge deftly picks the bathroom door lock. Maybe this resourcefulness has been passed down from Marge to Nancy. Later in the film Marge confirms Nancy’s Final Girl status by saying ‘You face things, thats your nature. Thats your gift. But sometimes you have to turn away.’ This also predicts the end of the film.

Nancy’s proactive qualities are also shown by her taking sleeping pills and drinking copious amounts of coffee. She doesn’t want to succumb to sleep and potential death until shes hatched a plan and had a crack at defeating Freddy.

This plan also shows Nancy’s Final Girl attributes- and her boyfriend’s ineptitude. Nancy asks Glen to stay awake and stand guard over her. She wants to go into her dream, grab Freddy and bring him into the conscious world. He fails, falls asleep and Nancy is left to battle Freddy alone. The fact that she isn’t killed shows her strength and the fact that she can do this alone. Its also a subversion of horror film cliches. Rather than having a guy defeat the killer, Nancy will do it herself.

a-nightmare-on-elm-street-1984-07
Nancy battles Freddy whilst Glen sleeps

There is another example of Nancy’s resourcefulness being highlighted at the expense of inept male characters. Nancy brings Freddy into the real world and as he stumbles into each of the traps she has laid she calls out for help to the cop watching her house. Its only after her repeated screaming for help and saying ‘Get my Dad, you asshole!’ that he says ‘I’d better get the Lieutenant…’ Men are seen as impotent, inactive and ineffective.

The scene which precedes it in which Nancy lays the traps in her house for when she brings Freddy out of the dream sphere. This has to be one of the most empowering scenes in horror history. Craven loves his booby traps with them being an ingredient of both Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes. But they have never felt so satisfying as in Nightmare. This is true Girl Power rather than the fake manufactured kind peddled by The Spice Girls in the 90s.

nancy-thompson-setting-traps
Girl power

The scene in which she shows the peak of her Final Girl qualities is the penultimate scene with Nancy showing Freddy that she feels no fear towards him anymore and turns her back on him- the ultimate act of power and defiance. She literally takes away his power and becomes all powerful herself.

Freddy Krueger’s cruelty manifests itself throughout the film. This man was a child molester and murderer ‘the most loathsome of creatures’ as Craven said and the seriousness of this isn’t passed over. Freddy likes to inflict harm to himself to disgust and repulse his victims. Hence he slices off two of his fingers when pursuing Tina and slices himself open during Nancy’s school dream. Both of these acts are done whilst smiling sadistically. Freddy seems to revel in the Grand Guignol act he can transform his body into.

1984-a-nightmare-on-elm-street-013
Grand Guignol

There are also signifiers towards the sexual and violating nature of Freddy’s crimes- the scene where he says ‘Come to Freddy’ to Nancy and then flicks out his tongue vulgarly is repulsive in the extreme. Also the scene involves Freddy’s tongue coming out of the telephone receiver demonstrates another violation. The most obvious example of Freddy’s sexual intent of his crimes is when Nancy is in the bath. Freddy’s glove appears from in-between her legs. This scene depicts Nancy as victim in the most vulnerable of situations in the same way that Hitchcock did with Marion Crane in the shower.

noes-bath-1024x576
Freddy’s sexual threat

And yet these aren’t the only examples of Freddy’s need to violate and invade. He wants to intrude into the different spheres of his victims lives- their homes, schools, even their bedrooms. And yet his biggest violation is the sphere of their sleeping lives. By violating this sphere he can affect their conscious non-sleeping spheres also.

Craven seems to be critiquing Reagan era America within the film. The neighbourhood is shot to look idyllic on the surface- gleaming white houses with no trace of any dysfunction at all. Advertising at this time was saturated with these kind of images.

Family by white picket fence
The American lie

However, Craven is ironically sending up the images seen so frequently in the adverts of the day. Scratch beneath the surface of the characters living in these houses and theres parents hiding a secret and the lynching of a child murderer after several of their children had been murdered by him. Maybe this influenced David Lynch and his portrayal of small town life in Blue Velvet.

The ultimate signifier that things aren’t quite right in this idyllic town is that whenever the neighbourhood is shown in this Norman Rockwell way, the angelic little girls are shown to be actually jumping rope to a rhyme about Freddy. This is a crack in the shiny veneer of the manufactured lie.

Another way in which Craven is showing the rancid underbelly of Reagan America is through his depiction of the law in the film. Policemen are shown to be either inept and pathetic, sometimes dangerously so. Rod Lane dies in police custody and is of Hispanic descent. This painfully mirrors news stories then and now as this is still a pertinent issue. This is portrayed in the film as the loaded look Rod’s father exchanges with Nancy’s cop father during his son’s funeral when the priest says that ‘He who lies by the sword must die by the sword’.

donald_thompson
The Police as ineffective and incompetent

The example of the policeman who is supposed to standing guard over Nancy outside her house as she brings Freddy into the real world also shows that the police are inefficient and this can result in lives being lost. Institutions valuable to American society under Reagan aren’t functioning properly.

There is also another valuable insight into American society at the time of the film’s production. When Tina is killed in her bed, Rod sees no killer just Tina being killed by an invisible force. This is eerily like a filmic representation of AIDS, the invisible killer that is killing thousands of people in their beds. With hindsight this is telling of the mentality of the Reagan led era- it was decades before Reagan even acknowledged AIDS as a disease that needed to be combatted even when people close to the Reagans such as actor Rock Hudson was dying of the disease.

happy-birthday-ronald-reagan
Silence = Death

The fact that the film depicts a female character as resourceful, strong and assertive as Nancy also goes against the female gender role the Reagan era wanted women to aspire to. It wanted women to be wives, mothers and homemakers. They should have no aspirations or ambitions let alone possess or demonstrate any redeeming qualities.

Watching this film again was a treat. I loved the film as a child and my opinion hasn’t changed. The film is multi-layered, insightful and above all a kickass horror film experience.

Heather Langenkamp’s amazing portrayal of Nancy heads a brilliant cast. The photography is stunning as is Charles Bernstein’s menacing synth score. Only the rushed and lacklustre ending marrs the film.

This rightly deserves to be seen as a horror classic.

4 and a half out of 5

tumblr_nx3lk4sii51uofilgo1_1280

Top 10 Movie Taglines Of All Time

Top 10 Movie Taglines Of All Time

crank_tagline-compressed

The lost art of writing a kickass movie tagline. Heres our top 10 favourite taglines of all time (in descending order). Have we missed any out? Leave your suggestions in the comments…

10) Frankenhooker- ‘A terrifying tale of sluts and bolts’

w-php

9) Blood Beach- ‘Just when it’s safe to go back in the water…you can’t get across the beach!’

bloodbeach_quad_uk_tombeauvais-1-500x373

8) The Beast Within- ‘Kill me, please kill me…before it’s too late’

covb5

7) The Mutilator- ‘By sword, by pick, by axe, bye bye’

themutilator_onesheet-1-500x745

6) The Texas Chain Saw Massacre- ‘Who will survive and what will be left of them?’

the-texas-chainsaw-massacre-movie-poster-1974-1020198670

5) The Funhouse- ‘Pay to get in. Pray to get out!’

mpw-49992

4) Taxi Driver- ‘On every street in every city theres a nobody who dreams of being a somebody’

jc74

3) Remember My Name- ‘Everyone knows a woman is fragile and helpless. Everyone’s wrong’

mpw-39085

2) Futureworld- ‘Where the only way to survive is to kill yourself’

ec99134a5531c8866823073c0ade4ec2

1) Alien- ‘In space no one can hear you scream’

alien-original-uk-quad-movie-poster-ridley-scott