The Legend of Boggy Creek

The Legend of Boggy Creek bills itself as a documentary of the Fouke Monster, a bigfoot-type creature that supposedly stalks the woods of Fouke, Arkansas. The footage of this ‘documentary’ is grainy. We don’t see much of the monster, and the glimpses we do catch look like a man wearing a gorilla suit, but never mind that. There really is such a place as Fouke, Arkansas so maybe there is a monster!

Many residents of Fouke are willing to go on camera and tell us they’ve seen the Creature, pointing out where they saw it on their potato fields or telling the tale of how it killed their hogs.  It’s not clear if the monster is supposed to be Bigfoot, Sasquatch, a Skunk Ape or something else. The movie’s narrator just calls it The Fouke Monster or The Creature and leaves it at that.

Not content with interviews, the movie gives us reenactments of towns folks’ encounters with the Creature. Many of these witnesses are women, alone in their cabins while their menfolk are out and about. The Monster seems to spend a lot of time hanging around the cabins of these women scaring kittens to death, peering through windows and trying to get inside.

The narrator tells us that perhaps the Creature is lonely. Don’t be fooled by such double-speak. The Fouke Monster wants sex. Lest you think it only stalks co-eds, it also takes a shine to one of the menfolk, who has to bust through a door to escape its amorous designs! This is one of the best scenes of the film; unfortunately, it takes place at the end so you have to watch the rest of the movie.

The Legend of Boggy Creek stars the townsfolk who saw the Creature in real life. Apparently the town of Fouke, Arkansas is overrun by Crabtrees, because that’s mostly who are in the credits. This movie even has a song about the one and only Travis Crabtree.

I have a confession to make – even after watching this movie, I’m still a skeptic. One of the tales that has the ring of truth is the story of the guy the Fouke Monster takes a liking to. If I was him, I’d make up a story that was less humiliating. I can see the headlines now: Fouke Monster Attacks Man Taking A Shit.

Please note that The Legend of Boggy Creek isn’t as exciting as I’ve made it sound. At one point, I was watching this movie to help me fall asleep at night. If you are a cryptozoology fan or a Bigfoot hunter, it is of course a must-see movie. Please note that this is one of the films in Joe Bob’s Last Drive In Movie Marathon; Joe Bob’s commentary will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about this movie, plus a bit more!

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Blood Feast

I have seen many stupid movies in my life. Being a dedicated horror fan means that a certain amount of stupidity is unavoidable. I’ve seen movies with titles such as Rabid Grannies, Satan’s Princess and The Toxic Avenger, but before this week I’d never seen a Herschell Gordon Lewis film.

Herschell Gordon Lewis was a pioneer in the horror movie industry. Possessor of both an M.A. and a PhD (in different fields!), he was an advertising executive who wrote books about junk mail. In the early 60’s he also started making his own movies. His horror movies are amateurishly made affairs featuring awful acting and bad writing. They’re also full of blood and over-the-top gore, which back in the early 60’s was a new thing.

Blood Feast is Herschell Gordon Lewis’ first horror movie – his earlier efforts seem to be mostly nudist camp films. But as we know and Mr. Lewis discovered, red-blooded Americans crave violence far more than sex. Blood Feast was a hit at drive-ins across our great nation!

This movie stars Mal Arnold as Fuad Ramses, exotic caterer, who wants to make an Egyptian feast worthy of the gods. This involves using various sharp implements to harvest body parts from young, nubile women. Yeah, about those young, nubile women – for a guy who cut his teeth directing movies about naked couples playing volleyball, Lewis’ films are hideously unsexy. He makes up for it with some truly over-the-top gore, including a tongue ripping out scene that grossed even me out.

The acting in Blood Feast is awful, but I want to give a special shout-out to Mal Arnold, who sports a bad Bela Lugosi accent and walks around with a limp. All that said, I enjoyed this movie. Blood Feast has a sly sense of humor which I truly didn’t expect. It’s  campy as hell, a ‘good’ bad movie, and I liked it more than anything Ed Wood – our country’s other celebrated ‘bad’ director – has ever made.

Don’t Look Up

I found Don’t Look Up on Shudder Streaming, which apparently is slightly different from the Shudder you get on Amazon. If you want to see the latest movies Shudder has purchased, subscribe to them directly. Anyway, Don’t Look Up was directed by Hideo Nakato, who directed Ringu (good) and Dark Water (excellent!). This movie shares plot elements and character archetypes with these later films. Apparently they did an English language remake, but I don’t know whether it was any good.

The plot: Toshio is directing a period drama about a pair of sisters. When watching footage of one of their just filmed scenes, he sees superimposed footage of an old TV show. This is the same show that scared the crap out of Toshio as a kid. Note: I think they see the footage because the studio reused old film, but I might not have understood the explanation correctly. Anyway, a strange woman in white lurks in the periphery of that footage.

Lurking on the periphery is a good way to describe what goes on in Don’t Look Up. The woman in white starts hanging around the set; she seems to enjoy the turrets. Things take a tragic turn when there’s an accident with one of the actresses, and a spooky turn when Toshio learns that the TV show he saw as a kid was never aired because another actress suffered the selfsame accident.

Don’t Look Up is an entertaining ghost story. Toshio and one of his actresses apparently have a mutual thing for each other (at least that’s how I understood it), but neither ever says anything. The movie doesn’t explain itself and the ending was not at all what I expected, but I mean both of these things in a good way.

Don’t Look Up is worth checking out, especially if you like J-horror!

Daughters of Darkness

The seventies were a golden age for lesbian vampire movies, a tidal wave that crested with 1983’s The Hunger. Jean Rollin is of course the gold standard for this subgenre of cinema, but he wasn’t the only practitioner. Take Daughters of Darkness, which I must admit that I’d never even heard of before Joe Bob’s Last Drive-In Movie Marathon.

The plot: newlyweds Stefan and Valerie vacation in Ostend, Belgium, a gloomy port city. Ostend appears to be totally empty except for Stefan, Valerie and the hotel’s porter. Soon enough the Countess Bathory and her secretary show up, trailed by an Inspector Clouseau type cop.

Valerie and Stefan met only a few days ago and now they’re married; if you think that’s weird, just wait. You ain’t seen nothing yet. Valerie is afraid Stefan’s mother will hate her, except Stefan’s mother is out of the picture. Stefan does have an older male lover, which is fine, except he’s lying to his bride about it. Stefan is also turned on by sadistic murder and likes to beat Valerie with his belt. This is why you should spend at least a week getting to know a person before marrying him/her!

The Countess and her secretary, Ilona, are almost normal compared to Stefan and Valerie. They travel by night, leaving a trail of nubile dead virgins in their wake. The Countess takes a shine to our newlyweds much to the dismay of Ilona, who expresses her displeasure by showing up nude at Valerie’s window.

I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, here. Suffice it to say there are lots of cocktails, witty repartee, the color red and sex. Daughters of Darkness does have a plot, although it crawls along at a slug’s pace. Unlike Mr. Rollin’s movies, which are Eurotrash and are in awful taste, this is an arthouse flick. Don’t get me wrong, Daughters of Darkness is in awful taste also, except its HIGHBROW awful taste.

My biggest problem with Daughters of Darkness is that the filmmakers don’t care about vampires or vampire lore. There’s a shower scene that I didn’t understand. Ilona either doesn’t like showers or she doesn’t like running water, which would make more sense, but it’s never explained which. I will say that Daughters of Darkness is a good-looking movie that held my interest, but there are better offerings out there. If you want to see a lesbian vampire movie, watch a Jean Rollin flick or The Hunger.

Tourist Trap

I saw Tourist Trap on Joe Bob’s Last Drive-In, a twenty-four hour movie marathon that I highly recommend. Tourist Trap is a weird movie that borrows its look from Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but without that movie’s fabled grit.

No, Tourist Trap has a bizarre vibe all its own. It stars Chuck Connors and Tanya Roberts along with a group of attractive roadkill – er, I mean youths. Seeing Tanya Roberts before she became famous is a real eye opener, sort of like watching Jennifer Aniston in Leprechaun, the best movie you’ll ever see about a homicidal leprechaun.

The plot: six young people get stranded at a roadside wax museum run by friendly weirdo Chuck Connors. Unfortunately, Chuck’s crazy telekinetic brother isn’t as friendly and the attractive youths get picked off one by one. I will say that the killer wears some pretty freaky masks. Our youthful revelers dress in cut-offs and t-shirts, but the final girl wears a white dress paired with a white sunbonnet and looks like she’s going to church. The subtext, it burns my eyes!

Tourist Trap gets an A-plus for its creative use of mannequins. Chuck’s house used to be a roadside wax museum, and Chuck’s wacky brother uses his telekinetic powers to animate those mannequins – at points, he goes way beyond animating the mannequins. He thinks the final girl looks like his dead wife, even though she looks nothing like her, but he’s crazy so we should cut him some slack.

Tourist Trap sure isn’t boring. I don’t know if it deserves the title of a cult classic, but it doesn’t deserve to be forgotten. It’s well-made and it has a bizarre vibe that I liked. If possible, watch Tourist Trap on Joe Bob’s Drive-In, as his commentary will add to your movie-going experience!

Matango: Attack of the Mushroom People

Damn, I fell behind early this year. Okay, the next movie on the chopping block is Matango: The Attack of the Mushroom People. This film was directed by Ishiro Hondo, who also directed the original Godzilla (along with a number of sequels), so I was inclined to like this movie. A confession: I saw Matango years ago but don’t remember anything about it, so it’s the same as seeing it for the first time!

The plot: seven revelers set sail in their party boat on a Three-Hour Tour and get shipwrecked on an island. Here the similarities to Gilligan’s Island end, alas; it’s a shame there was never a crossover between these two franchises. I would have paid good money to see that.

Anyway, there is fresh water on the island, but not much food – turtle eggs, seaweed, sea birds. Mushrooms grow everywhere, but they can’t eat them because reasons. One by one, members of our merry band do eat the mushrooms. Instead of dying, they transform into fungi themselves! Or do they? Perhaps there is another level to Matango, something having to do with how easily civilization can slip away. Or maybe this is just a weird movie about mushroom people. I dunno; you tell me.

Our seven castaways don’t splinter as a group because they didn’t really like each other in the first place, which I found to be realistic. The film does a good job of giving most of the characters actual personalities. People quickly show their true colors, and those colors aren’t pretty. It came as no surprise to me that the writer is the first to go crazy and eat the mushrooms.

I wouldn’t call Matango psychedelic as we only catch glimpses of the walking fungi until the end. Most of this movie is unrelentingly grim and depressing as our band of not-so-merry castaways lose their grip on reason and slide into madness. Parts of Matango have an apocalyptic feel; the single survivor (not a spoiler!) is in an asylum in Tokyo, where he has a view of the lights of the city, and I got the impression that one of the movie’s messages was that this too could easily slip away…

Unseen

Unseen is a documentary about Cleveland serial killer Anthony Sowell, who murdered eleven women. This movie reminded me of another documentary called Tales of the Grim Sleeper. The subject matter of these documentaries is eerily similar, drugs, prostitution, poverty, mass murder and the apathy of the authorities.

Unseen consists of interviews, mostly with the women who encountered Mr. Sowell. Many of these women were prostitutes struggling with drug addiction at the time. There is also news and police footage. There are no interviews of law enforcement authorities in Unseen, and after watching this documentary it’s not hard to figure out why.

Mr. Sowell was not careful about covering his tracks. An awful smell permeated the streets near his home, which residents thought came from the local sausage shop. When police entered his house, they found four decaying bodies. A few of Mr. Sowell’s victims escaped, and he let a few of them go. One tried to press charges and was unsuccessful, even though Mr. Sowell was a known sex offender who spent fifteen years in jail. Another jumped out of a second-floor window to get away from him; authorities thought he was her husband because he rode in the ambulance to the hospital with her. According to the documentary, none of the disappearances of his eleven victims was ever investigated.

Unseen is the type of movie that makes you think the world is a piece of shit. The guy who owns the convenience store next to Mr. Sowell’s house says on camera that Mr. Sowell was doing the world a favor. We see police footage. The investigators are eating potato chips while interviewing Mr. Sowell.

Ghost Stories

Ghost Stories is a British horror anthology released in 2017. The plot: psychic debunker Philip Goodman uses his TV show to expose hucksters and frauds. Interestingly, he is portrayed as a spoilsport with an enormous ego. I’ve seen horror movies featuring skeptics before, but this is the first one I’ve seen that is so openly hostile to its main character. Anyway: Goodman gets a message from his mentor, Professor Cameron, who now lives in a spooky trailer by an abandoned amusement park. The good doctor gives Goodman three cases of the paranormal he’s never been able to solve, and there’s your frame story.

The first case features a security guard keeping watch over an abandoned women’s prison/asylum. Why anyone would hire a security guard to do such a thing, I have no idea. The lights keep going out as our hero wanders around in the dark. This asylum features lots of women’s mannequins, because reasons.

The second story involves a younger guy who hits something in the woods while he’s talking on his cell phone. In an act of cosmic justice, his car stalls in those selfsame woods and the goat thing he hit comes by to pay a visit. The third story involves a rich guy whose older wife gets pregnant. She goes into the hospital while he stays in his enormous home. From what we see of his personality he’s doing his wife a favor by staying away. Is it poltergeists that invade the baby’s room or something else?

Ghost Stories contains a few decent jump scares and shrieking ghouls. They made me jump anyway, but that’s pretty easy to do. The first story is good, but the second and third are skimpy. That’s because the frame story becomes vital to the plot as the movie progresses. Watch Ghost Stories closely, as certain characters and scenes repeat. Unfortunately, there’s no way for the viewer to guess what’s happening.

After awhile things get really, really surreal and I didn’t know what was going on, never a good sign in a horror movie. Please note that some of the characters make anti-Semitic statements, and since this movie dislikes its protagonist I wasn’t sure how to take them. Ghost Stories reminded me of Dead of Night, a wonderful 1940’s horror anthology which features a psychic battle between a ventriloquist and his dummy. Ghost Stories isn’t as good as Dead of Night, and for reasons I won’t go into (because spoilers) I also found this movie to be depressing. A decently made jumper that gets incoherent towards the end.

 

The Silence of the Lambs

Hey, I’ve never seen The Silence of the Lambs! I’m not sure what I can say that’s new or interesting about this movie, but I’ll give it a shot. Do people know that the character of Buffalo Bill is partly based on an e.e. Cummings poem? Here’s a link to the poem: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47244/buffalo-bill-s

Isn’t that great? I’ve often thought it’s a shame that it’s impossible to make a living writing poetry in this country. Anyway, when I watched the closing credits I learned that Roger Corman and Chris Isaak were in this movie! They thanked John ‘Mindhunter’ Douglas! And there was a Moth Wrangler, and an Assistant Moth Wrangler. Union jobs!

One of my favorite parts of The Silence of the Lambs occurs near the end, when Catherine Martin calls Clarice a bitch because she won’t let her out of the hole. I mean, it’s not a nice thing to say, but you can sort of see her point. The goat-green cam at the very end gave me flashbacks to all the shitty found footage movies I’ve watched.

I was curious, so I looked. Here’s Precious’ filmography: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1584705/?ref_=ttfc_fc_cl_t28

Anthony Hopkins plays Hannibal Lecter, and he looks like he’s having the time of his life. You can almost hear him giggling. I’m not sure I understood the connection between him and Clarice. He calls her a dumb hick and then gets upset when the loony in the cell next to him throws sperm in her face. It’s a weird moment, because Lecter wears a mask (literally and figuratively) throughout most of this movie, and I think this is one of the few moments when he shows genuine emotion, and I’m not sure why. I read the book, years ago. Maybe I’ll take a look.

I thought Dr. Chilton had great taste in ties; even his clothes are loud and pompous. The guy who plays Buffalo Bill sadly isn’t in the movie much, but he’s awesome. He’s got some great lines. PUT THE FUCKING LOTION IN THE BASKET! His housekeeping skills are worse than mine, which is saying something, and when he’s wearing those night vision goggles he sort of looks like a bug. I figure his last words were something like – ah, shit. It’s a shame his performance has been overshadowed by Anthony Hopkins.

Jodie Foster is great as Clarice Starling. She puts up with tons of shit from everybody in this movie. Lots of people underestimate her, including Buffalo Bill, and boy does he pay for it. The only mistake she makes is not shooting him in the parlor, but who can blame her? What if she shoots the wrong guy?

A few touches I liked: when the cop moves Hannibal’s drawings away to clear the table and we see he’s sketched Clarice. I also liked Catherine Martin refusing to let go of Precious, even when the paramedics are leading her out of Buffalo Bill’s house.

I’m not sure if The Silence of the Lambs taught me anything new about serial killers. I mean, this movie is about as realistic as an episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, but it works wonderfully as a thriller. By the way, I view this more as a thriller with horror elements than a horror movie with thriller elements.

 

 

 

The Blob

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I saw the remake of The Blob in the movie theatre in the summer of 1988 and reviewed it for my weekly school newspaper, The Rutgers Review. Unfortunately, I don’t have any exciting stories to tell about my moviegoing experience because I don’t remember anything about the movie.

Wait, that’s not true! Del Close, who plays the crazy preacher, co-wrote a DC comic with John Ostrander called Wasteland. John Ostrander happens to be my favorite comic writer of all time. He wrote The Suicide Squad and Grimjack, a wonderful comic nobody today has ever heard of. This gives you, the reader, two pieces of important information. 1. I was predisposed to like The Blob. 2. I was a comic nerd decades before it became fashionable.

I don’t recall if I enjoyed The Blob on my first viewing because I can’t find my original review and my memories of it are sketchy. Since I had no desire to revisit this movie, I’m assuming I didn’t think much of it. I do recall being surprised when football dude bites the dust. I also remember the scene when football guy and his friend go into the drugstore to buy rubbers – does anyone say rubbers anymore? Fun fact: that’s what we used to call condoms in New Jersey back in the 1980’s. And that’s about all I do remember.

The thing that struck me most on rewatching The Blob was Kevin Dillon’s magnificent mane of hair, which I’m not sure qualifies as a mullet. Maybe it left such a strong impression on me because I’m slowly losing my own hair. I also thought Shawnee Smith was very good. She almost takes out the Blob herself before getting her foot stuck in – what? What the hell was that? A foot-trapper?

The scene where the girl passes out in the car was really unpleasant to watch. In general, the tone of The Blob is way off. The word I would use is squicky. This might have been a decent PG-13 movie, but it just doesn’t work as an R-rated movie. The gory parts of The Blob are gross, yes, but not in a good way. They’re just gross. These are the kind of effects you’d see in a body horror movie like Dave Cronenberg’s remake of The Fly.

This just isn’t a very good movie. It’s been forgotten for a reason. Most of the effects are laughably cheesy, which clashes with the ultra-gross scenes when the Blob eats people. The screenplay is full of holes. Why would the U.S. government fire bacteria into outer space when they can simulate outer space conditions in a bunker in Roswell, New Mexico? Why would sewer guy in the white containment-suit have a rocket launcher strapped to his back?

The characters are clichés. We have the local yokel cop, the cheerleader, the jock, the burnout (an 80’s phrase!) with a heart of gold – incidentally, I didn’t think Kevin Dillon’s character had a heart of gold. I thought he was a dickhead (another 80’s phrase!).

That being said, I liked both the leads. It’s not their fault they got stuck in The Blob. The screenplay has a couple of surprise deaths and thus isn’t totally predictable. I do enjoy watching horror movies where it feels like anyone can die. I was also happy that they weren’t madly kissing at the end of the movie. After seeing this movie, I didn’t feel like kissing – I felt vaguely queasy.