Tag Archives: Bill Mosely

BLOG: YTC Episode 38: Silent But Deadly

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The YTC podcast can be found at http://www.chrisandphilpresent.co.uk/blogs/youtotalcult/

FINAL.2.2

To many people Christmas means seeing the family, swapping gifts, rich food and plenty of booze. For myself, Christmas certainly means all of that but it is also an excuse for a bad horror movies!

This horror desire could well be down to BBC2’s strange tradition of screening random horror films late on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, or simply the fact it gets darker earlier during this season making me long for the macabre. At any rate, I seem to make time for additional time for cheap, potentially dumb, horror film over Christmas.

C/O http://craftyjournal.com/day-of-the-dead-wreath/

For 2013, I decided to put some time aside to watch some lesser-known sequels to another movie I own, the 1980’s holiday-horror film, Silent Night, Deadly Night. Although I have actually not gotten around to seeing Silent Night, Deadly Night: Part 2 yet, when the opportunity came up earlier in the year to obtain a nifty little 3 disc set that jumps over Silent Night… 2 straight onto its three (!) further sequels I simply could not resist the purchase.

 

[As a quick aside, this entry is must dedicated to my watching all three of these films without knowing anything about them in advance. Oddly enough though, I do know that a fellow blogger John Squires (R.I.P. Freddy in Space) has written a considerably detailed history of all this franchise this very same Christmas.

I am intentionally not reading John’s work before watching these three movies. I want my thoughts on this trio of movies to my genuine first impressions as an uninformed viewer. Still, for anyone curious to learn more about the history of this entire franchise you can find links to Squire’s no-doubt interesting write up’s at this address.

Right, that’s enough promoting of the pro’s, now it’s back to amateur hour via my own blog.].

Come the 22nd of December 2013, I had the DVD set in hand, a black Santa hat on my head, and a Silent Night Deadly Night shirt on my belly. So I was all set finally time to assess the Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 3-5 set

silent night blog

Let’s get it on!!!

Silent Night Deadly Night Part 3: Better Watch Out!

sndn3-1

Boy, did they nail the second part of this title… but I’ll get back to this later. Bonus points for adding the ‘!’ into the actual title, though.

OK, a small amount of back story is required to fill in this particular movie. In the first Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) the lead character is Billy Caldwell. As a boy, Billy witnesses his parents killed by a convict dressed as Santa (alongside some additional X-rated, X-mas traumas over different years of development). Billy and his younger brother Ricky end up in Orphange.

Eventually Billy ends up snapping as a young adult. Donning a Santa outfit he sets out to kill anyone he doesn’t like over a festive period. Billy ends up gunned down by the police in front of Ricky.

Starring ‘Billy’ as Santa!

Consequently, the equally-traumatised Ricky ends up the Santa-clad killer in Silent Night, Deadly Night: Part 2. Although I have not seen Part 2, Part 3 makes this clear through a combination of stock footage and exposition-filled dialogue.

So Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out! Takes place with the set-up that Ricky Caldwell was a killer St. Nick who ended up gunned down by the police and was presumed dead.

Co-starring ‘Ricky’ as Santa!

Rookie mistake! It is always a terrible assumption that any Slasher has been dispatched in a horror film if you haven’t seen them vaporised at the heart of a nuclear blast and then had their radioactive ashes blasted into space- and even then it’s still a bit murky.

So, with a little back story in place, we can return to the first movie of this set.

Silent Night… Part 3 opens with a girl in her Twenties taking part in a dream-link experiment at College. This is Laura. As will become clear, Laura is a psychic. For some reason 80’s Slasher films seemed very keen on Psychic girls as opponents for brutish killers, since A Nightmare on Elm Street part 4, Friday 13th Part 7 and Phantasm II all had similar rivals.

Not only is Laura psychic but via this experiment, she is also being linked up to the mind of the comatose Ricky Caldwell! As expected Ricky is not dead at all- instead he has a ‘brain bubble’ places around his now-absent cranium. Apparently his brain was shot out in Part 2 and this College Professor decided to rebuild said brain for no apparent reason, and then seal it off in a glass dome. That’s College Professor’s for you; far too much time on their hands.

Ricky is played by noted horror character actor Bill Mosely, possibly best known for his fun turn as Chop-Top in A Texas Chain Saw Massacre Part 2 and for being outright chilling as Otis in The Devil’s Rejects. In Silent Night… 3, Bill looks a bit less scary than any of the other roles I have seen him in. Ricky looks like if Dr. Frankenstein decided to mix a man and a Goldfish Bowl.

Bill
“Brains… Brains…!”

Although Laura is linked to Ricky, she herself is not even aware of this. She believes she is just helping out her Professor with his theories on Psychic capabilities and reformation of criminals. Laura is oblivious to Rickey’s past and to the experiments aim. As the Professor tactfully puts it,

She’ll let me go as deep as I want. She likes me”.

Nope, nothing creepy about that line.

Anyhoo, in addition to being psychic, Laura is also blind. I actually did not even pick up on this for about a third of the movie. Most likely because I was so distracted at what a complete bitch she is to everyone. Seriously. In fact her own back story gets explained that she lost her sight in a plane crash that killed both her parents, and all I could think was good- they didn’t have to live and find out what a horrible **** she turned out to be.

Good sign if it’s for Drivers. Bad sign if it’s for the Blind.

 

One extra person that did survive though was her brother, Chris. Laura, Chris and his new girlfriend all head to the sibling’s Grandmother’s house for Christmas. Unfortunately for them, Ricky wakes up out of his coma, and thanks to his link with Laura, he has the same plan. Even more unfortunately for them though, Ricky is heading there to murder them all rather than open presents.

I give this image from Google the thumbs up

Luckily a man with a Goldfish-bowl for a skull and dressed only in a hospital gown is still able to hitch-hike with no problem. So he actually gets to the cabin long before the Siblings and even stops for a few murders along the way.

Meanwhile, the Professor and an obsessed-Cop give chase to Ricky and it all amounts to three equally dull journeys to the same spot. The companions vary from Queen Bitch Laura repeatedly insulting her brother’s girlfriend, Ricky acting like a retarded robot and the bickering professionals who constantly discuss punishment vs rehabilitation. Still, I suppose it wouldn’t be Christmas without a horrible journey. Oh, and then they arrive and kill one another.

The End.

The only two things gained from watching Silent Night…3 were firstly learning that even the charismatic Bill Mosely can actually be dull in a film, and secondly that Ricky is revealed to set off into his rages by the colour Red. It’s a bit surprising he chases Laura and Chris then since they wear washed-out blue denim jeans and jackets.

On the plus side, I still like the fact the Sub-Title ‘Better Watch Out! includes an exclamation mark, so I guess it has that going for it.

Christmas rating= “A lump of coal. Did you keep the receipt???”

Silent Night Deadly Night Part 4: Initiation

After Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out! I feel ready for anything. My instincts are that whatever Part 4 is like it can’t be any duller than the last entry. Luckily within the first 5 minutes, Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation already has more excitement in it than in all of Part 3.

For a start, the film opens with Clint Howard- to me always a little kid from Gentle Ben no matter how many weird Horror films he crops up in- eating Pizza out of a trash can. Suddenly a flaming body tumbles off of a tall building. Then the credits explain just why this shift to action has taken place as it turns out Silent Night Deadly Night Part 4: Initiation was co-written and directed by Society and Re-Animator’s Brian Yuzna! Wooo! Jackpot!

The man, the myth… Clint Howard

Initiation presents Kim a trashy tabloid clerk wanting to be a respected journalist. She is held back at work by misogynistic staff, helmed by Phantasm’s Reggie Bannister. (Wow, a Phantasm star is a part of this movie along with Clint Howard and Brian Yuzna. This film just got even more interesting!)

To be fair to Kim’s Co-Workers, she is sleeping with the lead journalist at the office and only gets this assignment at his behest. There is no doubt Kim is being held back due to being a woman in all of the office scenes, but sleeping with a man and getting favours is hardly a way to assert her own professionalism in my opinion.

Kim & Co.

Anyway, now that Kim is on the case, she begins investigating the flaming-body. A little bit of gum shoe action leads Kim to a weird book store in the same building that the victim leapt from. This book store is run by Fima and frequented by Clint Howard, who is called Ricky presumably in a nod to the earlier movies. Despite having just met Fima leans in and kisses Kim as she buys a book. Sadly, I have never had that kind of customer service 🙁

Fima and Kim end up best friends whilst Kim investigates her story. Throughout Initiation, Fima keeps drugging Kim with food and drink, but Kim doesn’t seem to notice. Arguably she’s really not all that sharp for an Investigative Journalist. It turns out Fima and assorted cronies are all Egyptian Witches, out to resurrect her daughter/their god in Kim’s body. it’s all very obvious, really.

Hathor Egyptian Goddess Relief

All of Initiation is a weird watch. Amongst the odder sights are giant cockroaches, a prophetic Spaghetti meal, a Poltergeheist II-type puking scene and a rape involving Clint Howard in A Clockwork Orange.

In fact, Clint Howard as a mask-wearing rapist is actually pretty damn unsettling and something I certainly never expected to witness in a Christmas movie!

Silent Night, Deadly Night DVD Box Set (click for larger image)

Initiation is cheap to look at and not really scary, but it is also inventive and tries to say something about the additional pressures Women face in the world. Whilst not anything more than a curiosity, at least it is an easy one film sit back and watch due to its bizarre nature.

Oh and you may have noticed a lack of any mention of Christmas aspects raised in discussing Initiation. That is because this is virtually Christmas free, despite keeping the title of Silent Night Deadly Night for this film. At least that is fitting with the fact the film revolves around a different, ancient religion.

Go away, Christmas!

In fact the only link really is that at one stage Kim is having sex with her boyfriend when Clint Howard walks in on them, snoops for a bit and then puts on the TV whilst they still go at it. And what does Clint watch? Why, Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out!

How’s that for synergy?!?!

 

Christmas rating= “Thank’s for the nice Valentine’s gift. It’s clearly not Christmas after all, but I liked it all the same”

 

 

Silent Night Deadly Night Part 5: The Toy Maker

Silent Night Deadly Night 5.jpg

 Last up in this set comes Silent Night Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker. Since Part 4 ditched Christmas and killer Santa’s altogether, I have no idea what to expect here beyond the inclusion of toys. So just as long as that is not the Robin William’s Toys I figure this film will be worth a shot.

Right off the bat, Part 5 opens with a child, a toy and a death. Young Derek, receiving a new toy for Christmas from an unknown source, ends up the sole witness when the toy promptly murders his dad. Well, not exactly ‘murder’.

The toy is a wooden ball that converts into a ball and gag, attaches itself to the face of the victim. It then waits for said victim to stumble and hit their head. As deadly weapons go, it seems pretty ill-conceived and ellaborate compared to something simpler, say a toy that is poisoned, sharp or explosive.

A few days on and for some bizarre reason, Derek keeps the killer toy in his bedroom. Derek is in shock at what happened to his father, but hey Christmas is Christmas so the grieving mother sets out to get Derek a new toy to cheer him up. After all nothing says “We will never forget him” like “Let’s go shopping!” She takes Derek to the local toy store which is owned and run by Mr. Joe Petto along with his son, Pino.

Pino walks very stiffly and acts emotionally cold. Between the names ‘Joe Petto’ and ‘Pino’ and Pino’s movements, there are no prizes for guessing where The Toy Maker is going.

Joe Petto- do you see? DO YOU?!?!?

In an act of genius or desperation, Joe is played by the usually more family-friendly Disney actor, Mickey Rooney. You may also remember him ‘yellowed up’ in his sensitive portrayal of a Japanese business man in the otherwise excellent Breakfast At Tiffany’s. In Silent Night… 5 Rooney is wonderfully creepy although not so much due to his acting as to the sheer bizarreness of his very presence.

Jimmy Jellikers!

Yes, as you may well have guessed, Pino is a robot boy. The film’s plot deals with the uncovering of his and Joe’s attempts to main children via deadly toys. I would give a reason, but if you’ve ever been shopping for children at in December you’ll know understand their vitriol. Derek, his mother, and his long-lost real dad all set out to save the day which leads to a final encounter in the basement of the Toy Store.

This babysitter is murdered by multiple toys during rumpy pumpy. Toys and sex can be deadly- always have a safety word.

Of note in The Toy Maker is one undeniably eerie moment during this final battle. Once Pino is reveled to be a life-size Action Man, he claims that Derek should die and Derek’s Mother should be his new Mommy. So he attempts to rape her with his shiny, sexless crotch whilst screaming ‘I love you Mommy’ over and over. He has also killed his own father at this stage, so this is about as Oedipal as it gets.

Got Wood?

Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker was certainly better than Part 3, but not as good as the Brian Yuzna- helmed Part 4. For any flaws, Part 5 is easily the most Christmas- based of all the movies though, and the concept of killer toys designed to kill children is an ideal concept for anyone after a Christmas horror flick.

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Christmas rating= “A Turkey, the sort that is still uncooked in the middle”.

 

So there we are. I ended 2013 watching these three movies and learned that the best one is the only one that has nothing to do with Christmas. Oh well, at least they’ve all now been watched. With that all done it is time to give Silent Night, Deadly Night 3-5 the boot. Well, the stocking.

stocking

Next time will be Gluttony-based chop-socky. Hai-yahh!

Thanks for reading.

-MJ

 

BLOG: YTC_Hollyweird: Episode XX: Astro Creeps

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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Growing up in the leafy ghetto of Greater London, I was quite the grunger and metal head as teenager. One band that it was hard not to notice in the metal scene at that time was White Zombie.

Fronted by the self-proclaimed ‘Hell-billy’, Rob Zombie, White Zombie stood out in a scene of numerous identi-kit Nu-Metal bands for three reasons. Firstly, Rob’s vocal style was not far off trying to sing whilst gargling gasoline. Secondly, they had meaty riffs, which is the only type of meat I still consume to this day. Finally, they had a weird hodgepodge of imagery.

Urgh… not his face, just the turtle-neck.

 

This imagery was controlled by Rob Zombie. Zombie is an educated art and design graduate, and also worked full-time as Porn Magazine Design Editor. Given his wide knowledge of design, Zombie combined his various interests to give his band an eclectic look mixed up from 50’s Americana, Futurism, Universal Horror and Ed Roth’s art. Together this jumble of styles was garish but recognisable, familiar yet unique. This amalgam of trash-imagery even extended to White Zombie’s music videos- something that makes all the more sense once you know that Rob Zombie directed the band’s music videos, too.

Fun Fact: Rob Zombie animated the trip sequence in Beavis & Butthead Do America

 

So when it was announced in the year 2000 that Rob Zombie had his own feature film coming out, I already had a rough idea of how it may potentially look. Sure enough, after several delays, House Of 1,000 Corpses arrived in 2003 and it was in many ways it was an extension of his established style.

House Of 1,000 Corpses is a wild throwback for horror fans. It was a modern exploitation movie set in 1973, a key decade for the genre. The plot, in brief, is that a bunch of Kids are out sightseeing macabre places. They stop to get Gas and find the owner of the Gas Station is the unusual Captain Spaulding. Spaulding dresses like a clown and sells fried chicken out of his gas station. More importantly for them, he has a deep knowledge of the local urban legend concerning a mad scientist called Dr. Satan who once tried to create an army of super mutants.

The kids go looking for more on this Dr. Satan legend, but soon they ‘breakdown’ at a house nearby the murder locations. This is the house of the Firefly family. The Firefly’s are made up of freakish relatives who resemble twisted Carnie folk. Even worse, they are a soon revealed to be murders, rapists and, at a complete guess, quite possibly even tax dodgers.

Splatter And Gore HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES

House Of 1,000 Corpses has a lot of fun elements and is self-aware enough to revel in its own silliness. This is evident in its use of Dr. Satan as a geriatric Mad Scientist-come-Body-Modder, as well as the Firefly clan being named after different Marx Brothers characters. In fact, perhaps the most telling- and endearing- sign that this is not a film to be taken too seriously is that the very first character we meet is Captain Spaulding. Spaulding is a murderous clown who built a Ghost Train into his fried-chicken-selling gas station and likes to imitate John Wayne. This is hardly Ken Loach territory.

Through House Of 1,000 Corpses,Rob Zombie made a candy floss movie. A brightly coloured, enjoyable snack rather than a nutritious meal to be consumed delicately. There is certainly nothing wrong with that.

Meh, better him than some candidates.

 

However, it is the subsequent sequel span in a new direction. This sequel, The Devil’s Rejects,has been burning away in the back of my mind for over a decade. It has always left me frustrated despite several viewings. The reason for this frustration will be explained in a moment. However, after watching both films back-to-back again very recently, I finally realised that this frustration may not necessarily be an accident. It may be by Rob Zombie’s intended design.

Case Study A: Captain Spaulding’s look in House Of 1,000 Corpses

Released in 2005, The Devil’s Rejects picks up approximately one year after the end of House Of 1,000 Corpses. The Firefly clan are being hunted by Sherriff Wydell, whose brother George was killed in the first film. Sheriff Wydell is not just an officer of the law- he is a self-righteous force of vitriolic justice.

With various members of the family wiped out during a siege near the start of the movie, only the father Otis, his sister Baby, and their father, Captain Spaulding, are able to escape. The film focuses on both the remaining Fireflies as serial killers on the run, and also Wydell’s loss of control as he peruses them unrelentingly across dust bowl Texas. As their confrontation looms closer and closer, things get bleaker and bleaker with every passing scene.

If you are unfamiliar with either of these films, compare the rough plot synopsis that I have written and you’ll notice a remarkable shift of tone. Gone is the joy of exploitation from the first film. The sequel takes a weightier look at the horror of pure evil that humankind can do. There is no hope in The Devil’s Rejects. The only thing present is despair.

Case Study B: Captain Spaulding’s look in The Devil’s Rejects

Unlike the neon-circus of House Of 1,000 Corpses, the colours of every scene of the sequel are drained out. The film is seems exclusively brown, grey and every shade in-between. Also absent are the ‘MTV’ fast editing that House Of 1,000 Corpses is loaded with. In the first film, the shocking scenes are cut with obtuse imagery or skittery shots from other perspectives. It is a jarring way to show something shocking has happened. The editing in The Devil’s Rejects though is much more straight forward and traditional. In short, the tone of the film series has gone from comic-book to snuff movie.

Now this change in tone is not the point of this blog entry. The shift is not anything that needs pointing out, it is simply a statement of obvious fact. However the point of this blog is linked to this massive tonal shift.

Even Batman gets frustrated sometimes
Fond online, c/o Jason Edmiston

 

The thing that has previously frustrated me with The Devil’s Rejects, even from my very first cinema viewing at a midnight screening, is its ending.

House Of 1,000 Corpses ends with the bad guys getting away with it all. Downbeat endings are often exploitation standards, and since the whole film is fluff it does not feel out of place. Unfortunately, given that The Devil’s Rejects is presented as a much grittier and a somewhat more realistic film than its predecessor, its ending becomes one of very poor taste.

The end of The Devil’s Rejects involves the emergence of a presumed dead family member, Tiny, returning just in time to save Otis, Baby and Captain Spaulding from Officer Wydell’s vengeance. Tiny stays to perish rather than burden his family, and so the three escapees head off once again. As the last Firefly survivors try to get away they come across a Police blockade. They are then slowly gunned down to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s song Free Bird. It is almost like experiencing a redneck version of The Wild Bunch.

“It’s a dry heat, y’all”

This ending is presents a brutal death for the escapees, and in doing so it attempts to humanise them. The entire sequence begins with swooping shots of the countryside whilst the guitars of Free Bird build.

These shots of scenery eventually give way to close up’s of their three weary, bloodied faces. They drive off in a battered state, having seemingly escaped society and the law. As they head off the song’s message of ‘personal freedom’ begins to become apparent.

As the song continues, there are repeated flashbacks to home-video type footage. In these shots we see the Fireflies as a loving family. They smile and laugh and pose together happily. These home video moments are inter cut with their bloody, almost lifeless faces. All the while the song continues to build up.

As Free Bird flows into its epic form, the Fireflies realise a Police blockade is ahead. They pick up their guns and drive straight on, choosing to go out fighting whilst the guitars twang over the soundtrack. We proceed to witness bullets rip each of them apart in slow motion as the song crescendos and the film simply fades to black.

So the final presentation of the Fireflies is of a loving family who go out like proud rebels of the Wild West….Yet barely an hour before hand we have followed these same characters as they sexually assault a woman, kill her husband, cut off his face and then force her to wear it!

Ed Gein loves you and wants to hug you

 

Zombie’s attempt to present horrible characters in a sympathetic light at the zero hour always seemed to me to be in awful taste. The fact the audience is supposed to suddenly feel sad for the Fireflies simply because the frame rate slows down, and we see that they had fun family times too has always bothered me.

But on my most recent watching of The Devil’s Rejects, what recently clicked in my mind was, well, maybe that’s the whole darn point of the film.

Maybe we are supposed to question the technique-to-content relationship. Maybe we are not supposed just being passive viewers who accept the Fireflies defiant last stand. Just maybe we are in fact supposed to call “bullcrap!” on that whole section.

Let us take a moment to consider this; Rob Zombie makes a fun, schlock-fest via House Of 1,000 Corpses. No doubt some people could be offended by it, but for the most part it’s so ridiculous and over the top in all its techniques that it’s clearly fluff. Good fluff perhaps, but fluff.

Then Zombie follows it up with The Devil’s Rejects. This is a brutally grimy film that follows the very same characters in a far harsher light. Now these characters are stripped from their garish costumes and their cartoon world. There is no Dr. Satan here. There are no mere-men curiosities. Not even Captain Spaulding is wears his full clown outfit any more. Instead he now wears regular clothes with the faded visage of clown make-up.

Is Zombie is actually presenting a film that is not only about setting a different tone, but it is also about questioning that very tone? If so, then the The Devil’s Rejects ending begins to take on a much more interesting and acceptable bent.

lyn

The ending does not have to humanise these demons. Rather it can exist to show how film techniques can humanise demons. It all it can take is some slow motion, some pleasant cutaways and the endorsement of rock song associated with positive nostalgia.

At any rate, this is just a recent theory. Perhaps Zombie is asking us to question how we could possibly sympathise with rapists and murderers, or perhaps Zombie genuinely does expect us to sympathise for them simply because they’re ‘cool’ characters.

It is tough to know if Zombie is an artist with something to say, or a psychotic with a camera. I like to think the former given his amazing growth between the two films, but I am tempted to think the latter. After all, his next film was the atrocious Halloween remake. Oh Rob, I guess you were out to shock and disgust after all.

 

Next time I’ll be pondering what my old pal Jack Burton always used to say.

Thanks for reading.

-MJ