BLOG: YTC_Hollyweird: Episode III: Revenge Of The Hicks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Follow me on Twitter: @You_Total_Cult.

In the short term, the YTC podcast can currently be found at http://www.chrisandphilpresent.co.uk/blogs/youtotalcult/

BLOG PIC

The blog below was under an older name of Hollyweird. I have kept the numbering the same so that I could keep track of my posts, but this is where it all begin back in the heyday of 2012…

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To present day horror-fans, Cabin In The Woods may seem the pinnacle of Post-Modern horror. It’s certainly good- damn good- presenting on the clichés of the past in a comical and action-packed manner. It’s self knowing but genuine.

To people of my generation, we had a somewhat similar experience with Scream. Thinking about it, some unfortunate generation probably got Scary Movie. Tough break, kids. That was another film that winked to the audience about the familiar trappings of slasher films, whilst still pulling them all off. (Scream even got away with the vastly underrated sequel, which will get it’s own blog soon enough).

 

There has been a particular rush of excellent Post-Modern horror films in the last few years. Now we live in a ‘youtube’ age where things get recorded, reflected on and meme’d the increase in Post Modernism shouldn’t be a surprise. Sterling efforts in the last decade include Dale & Tuckers Evil, Behind The Mask: the Rise of Leslie Vernon, Feast and All the Boys Love Mandy Lane.

 

Of course neither Cabin nor Scream nor any of the recent efforts are the sole Post-Modern horror films. I am not even going to attempt to pinpoint whichever film could be first said to exactly pull that off. April Fools Day may be a contender. Evil Dead II managed to mock its prequel whilst also developing upon it. Even Peeping Tom studies the idea of watching films whilst being a murderer which went over far too many peoples heads at the time of its release. There are just too many possibilities to pick the ‘first’ Post-Modern horror. But there is one film that was successful enough in its own right, yet it rarely gets the love or respect it deserves. I present now perhaps the most over-looked of the Post-Modern horror film……………….. Jason Lives: Friday 13th Part VI

 

There would have been no victims if they’d just read the headstone.

When Friday 13th is brought up, the thing that comes to mind is Jason Voorhees. An unstoppable zombie in a hockey mask, using a machete to slaughter teens. Well, this was not always the case. The first four films in the series actually tie into each other fairly tightly (at least by Slasher standards). If you can ignore the random ageing of Jason in these entries, there is a clear through line of human killers and human motivations for all the films incidents.

However by the fourth entry, The Final Chapter (yeah, right) the franchise had grown to profitable to let go. So Paramount did what most studios do with profitable horror franchises- they kept the money rolling in whilst distancing themselves from their ‘shameful’ product. In this instance they basically just went ‘Ah screw it’ and had Jason return as a Zombie. There was no build up to this, no explanation of the supernatural into the Camp Crystal lake world. It just happened. Now if this sounds stupid in theory, it is the execution that makes Jason Lives worth re-considering.

Writer/ Director Tom McLoughlin loads the film with all manner of previous horror references, the most obvious being Jason’s resurrection via lightning. Whilst Jason lies in his grave, the man who formerly best Jason, one Tommy Jarvis, digs up Jason and stabs him in the heart with a metal rod- you see, ol’ Tommy sure can hold a grudge. But wouldn’t you know it, along comes a storm, and bam! Pure evil rises again as a modern day (well, 1986) Frankenstein’s Monster whilst his creator bemoans what he has unleashed. Jason’s first time clearly coming back from the dead is done in a way perfectly fitting for horror archetypes, if admittedly incredibly lazily by any other standards.

He’s coming to get you Barbara… and pretty much everyone else, too.

Remarkably, these nods to the past continue throughout the entire film. Before Scream featured a sweater clad janitor called Fred, or Cabin In The Woods had a message board of killers, Jason Lives featured a grocery store called Karloff’s and a little girl called Nancy who sees a monster in her dreams. But beyond all these sly references, one character even breaks the fourth wall! The local drunk exclaims “Why’d they have to go and dig up Jason?” (looks down camera) “Some folks sure got a strange idea of entertainment.”

 

Mr Hollyweird
The future Mrs Hollyweird

What film maker Tom McLoughlin realised was that these films were no longer about an unlucky day before a casual Saturday. They were now all about Jason. So he decided to bring Jason back and just have fun via making a ‘crappy slasher sequel’ that the studio seemed to deem it just that little bit more self-aware. If this isn’t clear in the title- where ‘Jason’ is credited before ‘Friday The 13th’- then it sure is in the actual title sequence.

This Tommy Jarvis is under arrest for being too awesome in The Return Of The Living Dead

In possibly my favourite Jason moment ever, the title sequence mocks the famed 007 sequences. Jason enters into a black screen, stops, turns and slashes downwards with a machete. The screen drips down with blood…. clearly McLoughlin knew this film was now a franchise, and consequently logic was out the window so long as all the standard hits were in place- once again like the 007 series. So McLoughlin did his best to bring the series up a level through acknowledging the material’s prior-influences and characteristics.

 

Now, does any of this make Jason Lives a good film? Well, no. The best Friday film is for my money Part 4. Any film that mixes Corey Feldmen, Crispin Glover and Tom Savini is going to be fun. And Freddy vs Jason gets a nod simply for existing so many years after my child brain craved the concept. And do any of these bold film making choices even make Jason Lives one of the best Post-Modern horror films? Well, once more- no. It is still a bit of a dull slog in places. But I would argue that it is the most overlooked child within the Post-Modern horror discussion. Maybe because, like Jason himself, it is not the prettiest of the ‘slick’ horror films, but it’s still noticed by some people like myself because, like Jason himself, it is a survivor.

 

*sigh*

The next entry is either going to be a look at of a long lost Kung-Fu flick which features one martial artist who has no legs teaming up with another martial artists who has no arms OR it’s going to be a write-up on why you’re wrong to download films. Yes- you. The one at the back with the eyes.

 

Thanks for reading,

MJ

 

BLOG: YTC_Hollyweird: Episode II: Attack Of The Groans

 

 

 

Follow me on Twitter: @You_Total_Cult.

In the short term, the YTC podcast can currently be found at http://www.chrisandphilpresent.co.uk/blogs/youtotalcult/

 

BLOG PIC

 

The blog below was under an older name of Hollyweird. I have kept the numbering the same so that I could keep track of my posts, but this is where it all begin back in the heyday of 2012…

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There are many strange films in the world. Some can thrive in their oddness, films that act as great artistic endeavours. Films such as El Topo or Eraserhead. Others you just wonder why the film maker didn’t seek therapy sooner. Ladies, gentlemen and non-applicable transgenders, I now present a perfect example of such a film; The Nostril Picker.

 

The Bizarro Fonzie

 

Now I’m going to take a wild punt that few people have heard of this film. So here is a summary of it. And for the record, no I am not on magic mushrooms as I write this.

 

Joe, a strange and unattractive man in his late thirties, tries hitting on schoolgirls. Predictably enough, this action does not go well for Joe. Fortunately for Joe, but unfortunately for schoolgirls everywhere, a tramp happens to witness this. Not just a normal tramp- a tramp that learnt mystical powers in Vietnam. Within seconds he’s taught Joe how to turn into a girl through the power of whistling ‘London Bridge is Falling Down’ and doing a little dance.

Joe scoffs, but gives it a shot. Sure enough, it works! At least I think it does- all the other characters refer to Joe as a girl from this point onwards, but he still looks like himself to us. A bit like Quantum Leap if it had dodgy, pervy overtones. Joe decides the best use of this power is to start hanging out at school, makes some friends, has a music montage- you know, everyday stuff.

The new girl was quite the looker


At last it’s everyday stuff until he randomly kills, rapes and cannibalises one of the girls.Yep. Just like that.

 

It’s pretty much at this point that the film shifts from a weird, camp adventure about the dubious morals of a shape shifter into a gritty sexual-slasher flick. But this shift is not a smooth one, rather both styles just get jostled up together for the remainder of the film. It is neither one nor the other- just as David Cameron is neither a leader nor a loser, but somehow both at once.

One memorable moment for me that jostled these two different styles is when Joe, now appearing as a school boy, trying to sleep with a prostitute before deciding to beat them up with a dildo instead. Naturally. After that, Joe then chats to the ghost of his dead mother, before killing and eating a bit more of another school chum. Joe is then hunted down by a cop, whom the film starts to follow instead of Joe…. And if all of that reads as a bit out of the blue, try actually watching the film!

Ultimately it turns out that the lead actor, the screenwriter and the director never worked again in their respective fields. If you watch this film you’ll know that their loss may have been for the greater good of logic everywhere.

That’s not a knife- THIS is a knif… oh wait. no it’s not.

 

A rather shocking fact about The Nostril Picker is that it sat shelved for years. Surprisingly for such a coherent, expensive film, I know. But there it is. Made in 1988, this flick was unreleased until 1993. You’d be hard pressed to know this was an 80’s movie unveiled in a 90’s world though. It was seemingly shot on low grade video at the time and has subsequently been transferred to DVD via filtering the negative through a mix of sandpaper and broken glass. This is rougher than Jordan without make-up, folks. Or maybe rougher than Jordan with make-up. Either way, it’s rough. It is not just the quality of the image that is atrocious- the lack of budget is clear. Stylistically looks more like something from the early 70’s, filled with faded denim, bushy haircuts and beige backgrounds.

 

But the fact this movie is both visually indistinguishable from its own time period and is also just really, really poor quality actually add a lot to the film. They both help bridge the most curious thing about this film to my mind- is it a parody/homage to exploitation trash of the 70’s, or a genuine attempt to make an off -the- wall horror-comedy? Frankly it’s just impossible to tell. Consequently this means The Nostril Picker is either a work of genius that exists as a perfect replica of poor taste films, or else is it just sheer lunacy given corporeal form. Either way it is certainly more Hollyweird than Hollywood.

 

So the above ‘Hollyweird’ pun aside, why would I chose to write about The Nostril Picker? Because it proves an essential point crucial to looking at all forgotten films, completely regardless of whether they are discarded trash or hidden gems.

This is a film that somebody out there had a need to create. They had a vision- a misogynistic, head trip of a vision limitedly- but it was a vision that they saw out. Somehow the creators managed to write it, fund it and release it.

In fact, the way this film was shelved for half a decade before it managed a release shows that the film makers must have just kept at their strange dream. Truthfully, this happening is just an amazing event.

Is this a good film? In absolutely no way. Is this a funny film to watch with friends and beer? Sure. But it’s also inspirational just for its existence. Hell, I’m writing about it 19 years after it was made! Ultimately, who’s going to be doing that for any slick but forgettable McG movies??

 

My next blog is inspired by Cabin In the Woods (I refuse to call it the re-named ‘The Cabin In The Woods, indecently. That’s a needless ‘the’ which makes it sound less cool). Next time I’m using Cabin as a jumping off point to give credit to one of the most over-looked post-modern horror films or the last 30 years- and although it is well known, it will not be what you’re thinking of….

 

Thanks for reading,

-MJ

 

PS

Ah, a final thought before I go.

Last week, my début blog was dedicated to how I came to be writing film analysis. Well, on hindsight I wanted to give one additional shout out to a blogger out there who had an impact on me. A blogger who doesn’t even know me beyond a few random Facebook messages, but a blogger who convinced me to get my bum in gear for the right reasons; Johnny Boots, aka Freddy In Space.

Freddy In Space is a horror blog. It is not from a professional critics perspective, or any insider of Hollywood or anything like that. It is simply written by a passionate fan, one Mr Boots. The articles vary from reviews to featurettes to competitions with his own stuff, meaning he doesn’t pin himself down. More than just that though, Freddy In Space entwines Boots’ own personal life within his articles. Whether that is doing drunk Q & A’s with readers or highlighting how much of an awesome girl he has (and having seen the photos of her and her skills at painting Day Of the Dead skulls, I’m considering bumping him off to get to her!). Seriously though, fundamentally what I love about Johnny Boots writing is just that he’s having fun. Sure, it has led him to some great opportunities, but those are just bonus incidentals. He writes what he wants to write because he wants to write. F’n A to that.

So thanks Freddy In Space!