One of my favorite horror films of the 1970s finds 35mm glory and official immortalization thanks to Terror Tuesday. Tourist Trap is an immensely creepy film despite operating under a number of familiar horror movie cliches. The thing that struck me most about Tourist Trap when it was first recommended to me by a clerk at Austin’s incredible Vulcan Video, fitting as they are the weekly sponsors of Terror Tuesday, is how much it seemed to have worked its way into the 2005 remake of House of Wax. That film feels way more like a remake of Tourist Trap than it does Vincent Price’s 1953 House of Wax. In any event, it stands on its own beautifully and I think the audience this week will find it holds up pretty well. Enjoy the trailer below…
On a remote stretch of Canadian road, Rose (porn megastar Marilyn Chambers) and her boyfriend are involved in a terrible motorcycle accident that leaves her pinned under the vehicle when it explodes. Fortunately, the incident occurs very close to a boutique hospital specializing in plastic surgery. The head of the facility, Dr. Keloid, determines that only an experimental new skin grafting technique can save Rose’s life. It turns out he is correct but the procedure has unintended consequences, mainly in the form of a sharp phallus that protrudes from Rose’s armpit and her newfound thirst for human blood. As Rose reluctantly feeds her new hunger at opportune moments, the men she has already attacked begin displaying rabies-like tendencies towards violence and their victims, in turn, become infected. Soon, the virus reaches Montreal.
Rabid, Canadian director David Cronenberg’s follow up to They Came from Within aka Shivers, explores similar themes as that previous film (and would explore in many other films to come) but manages to make it more personal (by focusing on a beautiful and sweetly innocent protagonist) and far more widespread (instead of They Came from Within‘s contained apartment set, Rabid takes the horror to the streets). The layers of subtext are rich and Rabid could be used as a handy guidebook to the Cronenbergian ideas found in the rest of his filmography- there is the perversion of expected sexual politics, violent consequences of experimentation, body horror, epidemics – all while it touches on some unique themes such as the pitfalls of socialist medicine.
Happy Monday, maniacs! This week, Terror Tuesday is featuring a film that, as unheard of as it may seem, lives in the shadow of its sequel. If you haven’t seen Troll 2, I hate you. That’s a bit harsh, but surely you hate your own brain if you haven’t treated it to one of the most ironically entertaining cinematic disasters ever misguidedly created. For full enlightenment as to the failings of, and subsequent cult phenomenon that is, Troll 2 seek out the sensational documentary Best Worst Movie. I have seen Troll once, and I was impossibly young at the time. I remember being freaked out by it, but again I was but a tot and would probably have been equally freaked out by loud noises or slightly ajar closet doors. I look forward to seeing Troll again to be reminded of its plot, which is no way revisited by Troll 2 which harbors no connective tissue to the original film. Bring it on!
A young priest helps prepare a long-abandoned house on church property to be rented by a family. A series of terrible accidents, and the ravings of a mad old woman who also resides on the property leads the priest to believe something from the property’s ancient past may to blame. As it turns out, in the 17th Century, a woman was condemned as a witch and drowned in a nearby pond. So guess who’s been holding a 200 year grudge? Can our young priest cast the spirit of this devil’s mistress back into the confines of the consecrated pond? Will the evil witch claim yet another victim? How hard would it have been to conjure up the spirit of a goddamn editor?
When a movie has dueling titles, I am immediately on board. When a movie smacks of bargain-basement versions of all three of the Holy Italian Triumvirate (Bava, Fulci, Argento), I am in. When a trailer finally provides me the solution to a years-old mystery that had been truly vexing me, I am so completely in. Such is the case with this week’s Terror Tuesday selection: Superstition alias The Witch. Just try not to enjoy the ooey, gooey trailer below. Oh, by the way, the mystery involves the scene in which a saw blade bounds across a room and kills a priest. This was a shot I always mistakenly assumed was from Roger Corman’s The Evil. When I discovered my error, I could not for the life of me remember where I had seen it. Thank you Terror Tuesday, now I can sleep again.
The roots of my excitement for this week’s film are threefold. First, it was directed by William Girdler who also directed Terror Tuesday alums Day of the Animals and Grizzly. I love both of these films wholeheartedly and the chance to see another entry from his canon is one I wouldn’t dare miss. Also, if you aren’t intrigued on some level by the plot synopsis of The Manitou alone, I weep for your having been born bereft of awesomeness. It’s about a tumor growing on a woman that turns out to be a Native American demon trying to return to our dimension. If that sentence didn’t convince you to see this film, read it again. And finally, I have tried to watch this film on three separate occasions and, through a series of unfortunate interruptions, have yet to be able to finish it. This week I will rectify this for good and all, and in 35mm no less. Peep the trailer below…
Werewolves exist, and they’re Australian! A pack of half-human-half-Tasmanian-wolves are discovered in the land down under. How are these hybrids connected to a number of savage killings in Russia? Biologist (Sociologist? I can’t remember) Harry Breckmeyer has been called in, by the President of the United States(?) to investigate. What he discovers is fraught with danger, magic, evil, and romance. There aren’t enough question marks in the world to adequately serve this article…and I haven’t even graduated past the plot synopsis yet.
The Howling III is, in every sense of the word, a spoof. But it’s less a spoof of any singular werewolf movie or horror movies in general as it is a spoof of the idea that you have to abide by the constraints of cohesive narratives in order to make a film. Very little of this film makes any damn sense at all. As such, this won’t be an elaborate review. The first five or six scenes are edited with such breakneck attention deficit disorder that the shift from one to the next is accompanied by a sound cue that can only be described as an exaggerated channel change on a remote control. By the time you get to the end, you realize you’ve lost track of how long your mouth has been agape in befuddlement.
What’s most perplexing about the story structure of The Howling III, besides the fact that I am actually using the words story structure, is how long it continues after the plot is finished. It, for all intents and purposes, wraps up all the important details and conflicts of the film and begins the longest denouement in cinema history. We are treated to 3-5 year chunks of the lives of our characters in an elaborate post-script that ends up playing almost as a followup film. It’s as if The Howling III perpetuates its own sequel. It is not only intensely bizarre but also boring as all hell. It is especially unsatisfying when you realize that the whole of this gimmick is but a long-winded setup for one last gag.
Beyond this misstep, I thoroughly enjoyed the strange experiment that is Phillipe Moira’s The Howling III. Philipe Mora is a man who has proven his salt as a director with films like Mad Dog Morgan and The Beast Within; lending credence to the idea that The Howling III‘s faults are all intentional in-jokes. I love the pompous horror director character and the increasingly absurd werewolf gags, but what I love most about this film is its rocking 80s soundtrack. It’s the kind of pitch-perfect syntho rock that encapsulates the decade. Cross another Not Quite Hollywood film off my must-see list!
As seemingly sacrilegious as it is to werewolf cinema, taking several potshots and making a mockery of lycanthropes, it turns out The Howling III is perfect for Terror Tuesday. The audience howled with laughter throughout the entire film and even remained engaged during the lull just before the credits. The room was absolutely electric and that definitely improved the experience of seeing the film; The Howling III certainly necessitates a crowd for proper enjoyment. After the film, when I stepped out into the night, I found quiet satisfaction in the fact that the moon was full.
Well it’s Monday again, sorry to say, so it’s once again time for the Terror Tuesday Forecast. Let’s take a peek at the film that will be playing this week at the grand ole Alamo Drafthouse upon that most advantageous of weekdays. Take a gander at the trailer for Invasion of the Bee Girls…
The first thing that stands out to me about this trailer is how sexually-charged it is. It’s not simply a matter of content that is more sex-centric, but there appears to be some sexual politics at play as well. This doesn’t surprise me as this week’s Terror Tuesday will be hosted by Weird Wednesday curator Lars Nilsen. Weird Wednesday, by virtue of its not being confined to one genre and instead operating under the ambiguous umbrella of the “weird,” has the ability to explore more diverse flavors of film. That being said, and I don’t mean this in any context other than one of reverence and respect, Lars has a penchant for sexploitation and I love that he was able to find a movie that seems to comfortably straddle the horror and sexploitation genres. I am thoroughly excited to step ever-so-slightly out of the normal wheelhouse of Terror Tuesday.
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