Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Underrated Horror - Klon Waldrip ""

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Favorite Underrated Horror - Klon Waldrip

Klon Waldrip has interviewed Rudy Ray Moore, Johnny Legend and others. He publishes mini-comics every so often and puts them online (http://purestsquirt.blogspot.com/), he also has a blog dedicated to wacky party movies (http://springbreakscrewballs.blogspot.com/). Follow him on Twitter: @klonwaldrip
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Horror movies were my entrance to the language of film. I learned about cinema history as a kid by trying to dig up VHS copies of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Nosferatu. I’ve been melting my eyeballs steadily since elementary school with scenes of ghastly imagery and haven’t murdered anyone yet.Some of the films I had in mind have already been mentioned by previous posters (Deranged, Alucarda, Begotten, Martin, Dagonto name a few), so go back through the archives of this fine site to discover some great titles. In doing so, I’ve added a few to my own list that I’d never heard of (The Black Room, Ogroff, The Night Visitor, and The Last Winter). My list has no parameters or agendas, these are simply movies I like that may not be widely seen or discussed.
WEST OF ZANZIBAR (1928, Tod Browning)
A truly mean spirited film starring Lon Chaney as a bitter magician, biding his time in deepest, darkest Africa, waiting almost twenty years to exact revenge on the man who stole his wife and left him crippled. This is hardly sensitive cinema. Playing into colonial-era racist stereotypes that use foreign cultures as points of terror and mystery, the film provides no depth, only slithering, inescapable menace. The handicap of Chaney’s tragically named character, Dead Legs, is merely a literary device and an excuse to show off the actor’s physical abilities, dehumanizing the reality that many handicapped people live with. So why recommend such an outdated piece of film best forgotten alongside Charlie Chan and Black Sambo? Well, I don’t really have all the answers, so just trust me. I think the film attempts and succeeds in being repellant and shocking, while giving us a plot so simple and direct that it could only have been made in the 20s. Highly entertaining.
PSYCHO IV: THE BEGINNING (1990, Mick Garris)
Nobody ever believes me about this one. I have a way of approaching sequels and remakes in such a way that I’m rarely disappointed. You must not compare them to the original, you will never be rewarded. I skipped Psycho II and III, so I guess you can to, after all, this is THE BEGINNING! 1990 finds Norman as a reformed murderer; no one in his domestic life knows he’s a character based on the murderer Ed Gein. He even has a pregnant wife! So, one night he calls a radio self-help talk show and starts to reminisce about mamma (played by underrated horror movie hall-of-famer, Olivia Hussey). You’ll see why Norman had problems. This movie takes Mommie Dearest to its logical conclusion. Norman blames the murders on his genes, not his abusive upbringing, so he’s a bit worried that his offspring will take over the family business, as it were. Also, Elliot from ET plays teenage Norman Bates.
THUNDERCRACK! (1975, Curt McDowell)
Underground cinema had a dashing moment of crossover success in the mid-seventies that ran along side of the emerging pornographic feature film, both luring in the more jaded art-house viewers as well as the younger hippie crowd. This apex allowed for befuddling films like Thundercrack, a black and white, 2+ hour long, horror-comedy that details hard-core, pan-sexual pornography draped in a haunted house potboiler. It’s awonder you’ve never seen it, right? This was made by a protégé of George Kuchar, who may be the most recognizable name involved in the production. Kuchar is in the sex scene involving a gorilla, any other actor would call this a career low point, but when you’re featured in movies like Sins of the Fleshapoids and Hold Me While I’m Naked, it gets hard to parse out exactly what’s a high or low point. The director, Curt McDowell, cast his sister in one of the sex rolls, and became an early AIDS victim after a long string of underground short films.

BLOOD DINER (1987, Jackie Kong)
The expectations may be low for most potential viewers when they hear that Blood Diner is a post-modern, unofficial sequel to Blood Feast made by unknowns a good two and a half decades after the original, but low expectations are for Tim Burton movies. The plot concerns Fuad Ramses’ little nephews who’ve decided to carry on the family tradition of resurrecting the Egyptian love-goddess Shitar (sic?). The boys decide that opening a vegetarian restaurant will be the best route to take in achieving that goal, so you get a few cheap gags tossed around that concept. To further date the film in topical references, there’s some shots fired (literally) on the then popular Jazzercise fad. If Blood Feast weren’t an obscure enough film to reference, Uncle Fuad’s talking brain bubbles around in a jar in the back of the restaurant, barking orders at the boys, just like in The Curious Dr. HummpThe end of Blood Diner is an all-out assault of the eyes and ears; you’ll wonder why this slick production didn’t launch at least ONE career. Buried by the horror market of the mid to late 80s, when we were all focused on the antics of franchise horror characters like Freddy, Jason and ErnestBlood Diner remains a forgotten classic.

BLIND BEAST (1969, Yasuzo Masumura)
The simple plot of Blind Beast would not seem filmable at any point in the history of cinema. How would one portray a blind sculptor kidnapping a model, locking her up in a dark basement and slowly removing her body parts as she develops the strangest case of Stockholm Syndrome ever filmed? Even if this plot came across the desk of some Lion’s Gate horror producer tomorrow, they would surely pass. The reason that this film is watchable, despite the abhorrent plot, is the fantasy tone imposed over everything from the acting performances to the lighting to the set design. The story is set into motion almost before the opening credits finish rolling and the viewer is well aware that both the kidnapper and victim become cyphers with no way to influence the outcome of this series of events. The tension rises and crashes cyclically, matching the emotional developments of the characters. Giant sculptures of body parts menace the victim and the eventual removal of limbs seems inevitable and natural, as though there were no other possible route for the story. The closest comparison would be Polanski’s Repulsion, where isolation allows sickness to become tragically unavoidable. The director, Masumura, had the kind of long career that seems to only occur in Japan, where they let Miike make a 1000 movies per year. Try this out if you enjoyed Eyes Without a Face or The Collector (with Terence Stamp).

1 comment:

joestemme said...

Thundercrack! is an amazing document of the underground. It's a sort of omnisexual version of The Old Dark House. Saw it at a revival house on a double bill with Pink Flamingos! Talk about an eye-opening double feature for a just 20-something!

Oh, and never take a cucumber from a stranger!