Guts and Grog Tooned Up

Friday, September 5, 2014

You Big Pussy. You Should Stick To PG-13 Horror: Found- Scott Schirmer

"A horror-obsessed boy discovers his older brother is a serial killer." This is the synopsis taken from IMDB. I usually try and come up with a smart ass, vulgar way to give my own synopsis, but honestly, there is no need. That is really all you need to know, plot wise. What I want to talk about, is why this movie blew me the fuck away.

I am a horror nerd. That is no secret. It has never been a secret. I spent my days as a child, on the playground discussing it. I spent my weekends at the video store, then in my basement watching my daily pickings. I scrounged up change, to buy Fangoria, so I could read about it, then cut out all the pictures and hang them on my wall. I am obsessed. Always have been, always will be.

I am instantly interested when a films character is also a horror nerd. Especially when dealing with a coming of age story. The Monster Squad were my idols. I grew up watching them, and feeling like them. Sure, I never got to hang out with monsters, well at least not the fun kind, but those are different stories. Later in life films like Lightning Bug, or Super 8 touched on this. It is impossible to not relate, and as a somewhat human, it feels good. With that said, it can also derail a story if used improperly. So while excited, I am also hesitant. I honestly didn't know much more than the synopsis when I rented this last night. I had heard some good things, but hadn't really looked into it. It was an impulse rent, and one that I am very happy I succumbed to.

Found is three different films combined into one, for me. It is the coming of age story of Marty. He has to realize that while the movies are fun, in real life. It can loose it's charm. This is all dealt with by showing him dealing with problems at school, church, and home. He is picked on, he has one friend who shares his love of horror, but even that isn't safe when you bring in school politics.

You have the story of his brother, who you see unhinge as you learn of his evil deeds, but also see his humanity, which is something that is lost in a lot of films. He is not a good person, he does atrocious things, but you still feel for him.

The third part would be the films inside the film. They went to great lengths for these to stand out. Sure, there are plenty of references to classics such as Popcorn, The Taint, Video Violence, Street Trash, and countless more, but what really impressed me, was the original films they used to mirror what was going on in the real world. Amazing detail were given to these. Including box art, and even extensive scenes that were shot, to have the boys watch. These are movies I wish existed. They are a gorehounds wet dream.

That leads us into the gore. This is a brilliant film, with a lot to say, but it also is a wet mess of awesome. Tit chopping, necrophilia, and so much more. It is brutal, but fun at the same time. It rips your guts out, and you feel no pain. You are excited. Does that mean there is something wrong with you? Possibly, but who gives a shit. Embrace, that's what I always say, well at least that is what I just said. Seriously though. The effects are some of the best I have seen in quite some time.

The atmosphere is so thick you can cut it with a knife. Within seconds, I was sucked in, and felt like I was a kid headed to the video store again. In fact, there is a scene in a video store, where nothing really happens, but I could not take my eyes off of it. They treat it almost orgasmic, which for any of us horror lovers will know, is not far off from the truth. I believe I got a little wet the first time I saw the case for The Wizard of Gore, or Blood Feast, or countless others.

I hate to over hype a film. I am sure if you look hard enough, you can find some flaws. I was so hooked to what I was seeing, I didn't have time for that. It is going to take an awful lot to knock this out of best horror film of the year for me.

4.5/5

-Tromeric

Thirstier Than A Child Molester In Hell: A Look At All Hell Breaks Loose- Jeremy Garner



All Hell Breaks Loose starts off like a typical slasher. A bunch of drunk fornicating kids, sitting around a camp fire, telling local urban legends of psycho killers. Within minutes you are quickly informed that this is not the case. It was if the film itself came out of the TV, and said, "Hey, fuck you! You will find no Cropsey here. This is a brutal biker flick, and the Satan's Sinners will fuck you up." Cool, so it's not a slasher, it's a grindhouse throwback biker flick. Right? Well, not exactly.

After we meet the Satan's Sinners, who are the motorcycle gang from hell, we meet a young married couple headed to Portland. They just got married, and are ready to make it official. See, there has been no sinking of the pink, just yet. That is why these demonic bikers kidnap her, and kill her boo. If there is one thing I have learned over the years, it is that Satan loves virgins, maybe even more then the Scorpions.Luckily for them it's not over yet. A man I assume is God shows up, looking like Macho Man in a white suit, cowboy hat, and sporting a Sam Elliot voice. He resurrects our hero, who is ready to save his girl, and get his revenge. First he needs some help. So he gathers up a sheriff, a masturbating, alcoholic priest, and sets out for his lady.  You guessed it. All Hell is gonna break loose.

The above is a very simplified synopsis. I don't think I can capably put into words the fun, and insanity this flick brings. That doesn't mean I won't try. The thing to get out of your head right away. This is not just another Nu-Grindhouse flick. Sure, it is in some ways, and that doesn't have to be a good or bad thing. It is a potpourri of many genres, which in itself is not really anything new. What it all breaks down to, what matters to me. It is fun as fucking hell. I seriously had a blast watching this. I am a child of the video store generation, and AHBL takes the guts of many of the films that filled the shelves, put's them in a blender, then serves them to your dying mom, while you watch. It's fucked up, and funny at the same time.

It has brutal, exploitative, mean spirited moments that you might find in a film like "Tenenment," while also having the fun care free spirit of a Troma flick. It has some amazing effects. Some brutal gore, sure, but also some straight up nineties straight to video shit, and I mean that as a good thing. Think Full Moon, before they lost their Paramount money. Slimy, oozy, splatterific awesome. There is melting, exploding, and even old fashioned torture.

While definitely being a part of the new grindhouse movement, it doesn't rely on filters, and gimmicks.Sure, they are there in some capacity, but I promise you Robert Rodriguez had nothing to do with this.  I personally have no problem when those things are used, but it was refreshing to see a film that could have been made in the time period it is imitating. When I first turned this on, I expected to have a good time, but I thought I may have to make excuses for it. It's like if you fucked an aging scream queen. You would tell your friends, but you would probably show them her head shot from that film she was in, back in 1987. I assumed I would love this, but would have to pretend it was made in the eighties. Turns out, it's all very confusing. It's more like if you fucked that girl from "Orphan." You show your friends the picture, and they are probably disgusted, and confused. You just have to explain. It doesn't matter the age, or the year. It is timeless, and will look the same in 2014, as it did in 1987, and it is for you to decide if that is right or wrong. Me, I already made my decision.

4/5

-Tromeric

Monday, August 11, 2014

Pieces of Talent- Joe Stauffer

The story itself, is simple. A girl who is trying to make it as an actress, ends up witnessing a man beat. She helps him, and they strike up a friendship. He chats with her about a role she would be perfect for. This decision will change her life forever. See, it turns out. David is a fucking psycho.

As I type that, I realize it sounds pretty generic, and to be honest, at points it is. With that said, there is plenty of great things in this film. As mentioned before, David is a psycho. Imagine if T.J. Miller and Weird Al were in the back of a shed fucking. Then Mick Taylor showed up from the outback, and interrupted. They are worried, but it turns out he just wants in on the action. He tells them to continue. He is mostly a watcher, but this time, he decides to show them what a "knife" looks like. Next thing you know, they are all climaxing, and their love juices all bleeds together. Instantaneously, a creature starts to rise up from the gooey mess on the floor. That creature is David. Kind of nerdy, kind of friendly, but also as terrifying as they come. My point being. David is a wonderful bad guy. It is easy to hate and love him, to pity and look up to him, to feel sympathy and fear him. He embodies everything good and bad.

The atmosphere is fantastic, and the imagery feels like my childhood. David's house is full of so many electronics from my childhood. A top loader VCR, a VHS camcorder, and a TV that looks like it was pulled out of my grandparents RV.  These were just a few of my favorites, but the movie is full of  some great design, and atmosphere. 

The style in which this film is made, is in some ways quite unique, and in others, a mishmash of genre and style. It almost has a nineties indie feel. Think Greg Araki, Harmony Korine, or even Vincent Gallo. It also has a strong surreal overtone. When we go inside David's head, we are flooded with experimental, almost hallucinogenic scenes. Sure they can be overly artsy, but sometimes that's okay. I could not help, but think of the nineties Canuxploitation classic "Subconscious Cruelty"  when viewing these scenes. The way the blood flowed so beautifully, and freely.

This is by no means a perfect film. It drags at points, and there is some filler. I found myself losing interest somewhere in the middle, but it didn't take long to get going again. Every time it almost lost me, it would suddenly throw its hooks in my face, and drag me back into the surreal, brutal, funny world it had earlier created.

One last thing I want to touch on, is the gore. There is plenty of it, and gorehounds will have to resist pleasuring themselves awkwardly when their friends are around. Now if you watch it by yourself like I did, well, I will just quit there. Just know that the blood flows like Countess Bathory  on her period. That is how science works right? If you drink a lot of blood, then you bleed, you will bleed more blood? Sounds right to me.

You can purchase Pieces of Talent directly from the filmmakers on their website. There is a special edition with commentaries, behind the scenes, music videos, and shorts. There is also a standard version hitting in September. If you don't want to wait, you can get it digitally, and for the collectors, there is a couple of VHS options.



3.5/5


-Tromeric

Monday, August 4, 2014

Pieces of Talent Coming Your Way










Joe Stauffer's Pieces of Talent, an award-winning independent horror film, is now available on DVD exclusively at PiecesOfTalent.com. This special edition release comes autographed and includes a second disc featuring an hour of bonus content. Watch the official trailer on YouTube: http://youtu.be/iZ-UCbCPfio

Pieces of Talent features special effects by Tony Rosen, who created the iconic Annabelle doll for The Conjuring and the upcoming Annabelle. Stauffer's unrelenting vision brings to mind the visual finesse of  David Fincher's Se7en with the unflinching intensity of Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

In addition to the DVD, Pieces of Talent is also available for instant stream on your computer/mobile device and on limited edition, bloodied VHS tape. Collectors can also take home a unique "death scene" VHS and a hand-crafted bobble head. All of these items are available directly from the filmmakers via the Pieces of Talent webstore. For a limited time, you can enter the coupon code "horror" at check out to save $2.00 on your order.

"After an amazing run in the festival circuit, we are excited to finally have the film available to the public," explains Stauffer, who, in addition to directing, served as co-writer, cinematographer, composer and editor. "We poured our hearts into this project and can't wait for people to see it on the screen."

David Long, who co-wrote the script with Stauffer, stars as a maniacal serial killer posing as a filmmaker, with Kristi Ray as his latest muse. They are joined by Jon Stafford (Full Metal Jacket), Barbara Weetman (Stuck in Love) and Taylor Kowalski (Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever).









Synopsis:

Set in the small coastal town of Bright Leaf, North Carolina, Pieces of Talent centers around Charlotte, a disillusioned aspiring actress that can barely get by. Charlotte catches a break when seemingly chance circumstances put her in contact with a local filmmaker, David Long. David and Charlotte form a quick friendship that leads to Charlotte landing the starring role in David’s newest project. David quickly becomes obsessed with Charlotte and begins building his bloody masterpiece. David is a happily obsessed individual willing to do whatever it takes to make “true art.” He utilizes his charm and skills to make something dark and deranged seem utterly beautiful and loving.

For more information and to purchase Pieces of Talent, visit the film's official website at PiecesOfTalent.com. Pieces of Talent can also be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me: Tromeric's Drunken Love Fest



The first time I ever remember watching this, I was like twelve years old. I hadn't really watched the show, and I was expecting a more straight forward horror film. I know, I know. I was twelve. I remember not having a fucking clue what was going on, but kind of being intrigued by it. Jump ahead to a few years later. I got the VHS box set, and Gabe Nye and I watched the entire thing in two or three days. I had been told not to watch this until after I was done with the show, as it was a prequel, it would spoil the mystery of Laura Palmer, and her death. Luckily I didn't really remember anything from my first experience, so I popped it in, and it finalized my love for Lynch, and Twin Peaks.



* All of the spoilers are about to come at you. In the off chance you have not watched Twin Peaks....Stop reading now!!!!!


Fire Walk With Me starts with a fucking television, being smashed to smithereens. David Lynch called up David Pryor, and borrowed a sledgehammer, and smashed that bitch like it was a face. The haunting score playing is completely different than the theme we have come to love, from the TV show. I feel like this is Lynch telling you right off the bat. "This is not the TV show. This is going to be darker, weirder, and more insane than that show I made where a dude is possessed by a dark spirit, and rapes his daughter, and the entire town fucks each other." That is how I interpret it anyways. My point being, Fire Walk With Me has always been its own monster, in my opinion. Sure it has all the connections to the show, but it is a stand alone movie. It is dark, hypnotic, brutal, beautiful, surreal, hilarious, and sparks emotions in me, that I am not even aware are there, until this film happens, and it happens often.

The first forty five minutes or so, don't even take place in Twin Peaks. We are dropped into Deer Meadow, with Sam Stanley(Keifer Sutherland) and Special Agent Chester Desmond(Chris Issak). They are working the case of Teressa Banks, which is a throwback to the show. Deer Meadow is the antithesis of Twin Peaks. It's almost like looking through a wormhole, into an alternate dimension. A few friendly faces show up during this sequence. Lynch himself reprises his role as Gordon Cole, and Albert(Miguel Ferrer) and Coop(Kyle Maclachlan) have small scenes. These are all accented by amazing performances from newcomers such as Carl Rodd(Harry Dean Stanton), and Sheriff Cable(Gary Bullock). 





After this, we hear the familiar theme, and we are back in Twin Peaks. I love the Deer Meadow sequence, but this is when we get back to the town I have dreamed of living in my whole life.  We meet up with Laura(Sheryl Lee) and Donna(now played by Moira Kelly), and run into some other show favorites. 

Initially, it is just another day in Twin Peaks. Some sex, some drugs, some Julee Cruise. Then shit gets crazy. Even for Twin Peaks. Bobby kills someone, Laura and Donna whore themselves out, Leland starts really letting his Bob shine through, and a lot more time is spent in the red room/black lodge. It would be impossible for me to give an accurate overview of this, but that was my drunken attempt.




Fire Walk With Me isn't just one of my favorite films based off of a TV show, it isn't even just one of my favorite Lynch films, it is one of my favorite films, period. It takes a subject that I was already familiar with, and makes it its own. It is two hours of the most hypnotic film put in my retinas. The range of emotions it draws up, the excitement, the fear, the laughter, the sadness. It also has, possibly the best ending of any film, ever. After such a brutal attack on Laura, it manages to end with the most beautiful, blissful, peaceful moment put to celluloid. It is an emotional roller coaster,and one that I am always happy to take.  


-Tromeric






Tromeric can be found sitting in a dark room watching Homeward Bound, followed by A Serbian Film.  He found a secret potion called the grog.  It is similar to The Gummi Bears Gummibear Juice, but instead of making him bounce from here to everywhere, it gives him the ability to endure movies such as Blood Freak, and The Room, on a regular basis. When he drinks the grog, he also has the ability to have more references that you don't understand, than Wikipedia.  In the off chance he is taking a break from the grog, you can find him drinking coffee from a cup with half of the Black Dahlia pictured on it, eating Count Chocula, and making lists about whether The Taint has a better soundtrack than Voyage of the Rock Aliens.





The Doctor Prescribed The WIld At Heart Soundtrack





With the Blu-ray release of Wild at Heart coming out this past year from Twilight Time I had the chance to enjoy one of my favorite David Lynch pictures and perhaps the last movie in his filmography that I really “got”. After this Lynch’s work would start a slow descent into strange timelines, even more far out surreal imagery and symbolism as well as narratives that form like a game of Candyland without a goddamn deck of cards with which to guide you through the Candy Cane forest. Lynch and I have decided to agree to disagree about the period after Wild at Heart from a philosophical stand point. I choose to enjoy the movies before and acknowledge that he’s just too damn smart for me. That disagreement and lack of enjoyment does have one major caveat, soundtracks. Lynch creates soundtracks that really get me. They are long winded musical nightmares of soundtracks with a variety of style, music both original and sampled from existing sources and with groundbreaking artists. The Lost Highway soundtrack is still one my favorites with everyone from Nine Inch Nails to Rammstein and David Bowie filling the track list. Hell, even the “Lady in the Radiator” track from Eraserhead is sublime especially when covered by The Pixies. With Wild at Heart fresh on my brain I wanted to take some time to walk down the soundtrack released for this picture. Song by song. Band by band. Let’s get familiar with the way Lynch uses music.

1. Im Abendrot ( Excerpt) - Gewandhausorchester Leizpig
Gewandhausorchester Leizpig was an 18th century orchestra that created some largely dramatic works. This is perfectly evident in this almost Italian sounding orchestral work that sings of promise and tragedy, perhaps the perfect lead to Wild at Heart that takes the viewer through every kind of emotive experience one could have. It’s melancholy waxes and wanes and turns into a big loud promise only to drift of into uncertainty. Fate. Lynch just seems to love the concept of Fate (somebody introduce him to Laurie Strode’s old English teacher).

2. Slaughterhouse - Powermad
Perhaps only loved second to Wicked Game on this soundtrack, Powermad creates one of the most memorable moments in Wild at Heart transitioning between thrash metal styling to Nic Cage on the mic doing Elvis. Powermad never really got the attention they deserved by to a core fan of 80’s metal thrash heads they were influential in the speed scene.

3. Cool Cat Walk - Angelo Badalamenti And Kinny Landrum

Badalamenti is a favorite composer of Lynch’s creating score for Twin Peaks, Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive. His collaboration with composer Kinny Landrum sets the back drop for the movie. Landrum backs up the synth and also worked on Twin Peaks.

4. Love Me - Nicolas Cage

Cage doing Elvis is a thing to be seen and embraced. Of course we are familiar with the Elvis Presley hit, but hearing and seeing Cage perform this loving ballad to his Lula is something to see. His voice is smooth and silky. It’s almost as if Cage is just impersonating The King, but I’d say that his vocal styling is still uniquely Nic.

5. Baby Please Don't Go – Them
If you like one Them song then you like THEM all. This is a classic garage song with country, chicken picking hook that screams The Rolling Stones. It also has the same feeling as 13th Floor Elevators “You’re Gonna Miss Me”.

6. Up In Flames - Koko Taylor

Koko is classic Blues from the founding era of modern Blues music recording with Chess Records and Alligator with some of the greatest voices and musicians to ever play their tears on their sleeve. Her contribution to the Wild at Heart soundtrack is a sultry, sad piece heavy on the crying horns and slow, mellow “heat of the Chicago summer” feel. Beware this track. You may want to have a drink. Better make it two.

7. Wicked Game - Chris Isaak
This was the song with which has become most associated with Wild at Heart due the sexy music video featuring Helena Christensen. I remember when it came out, sneaking long drawn out eye grabs of the video before my parents would turn it off. I still love that video and get sentimental to the song. It also makes the perfect song to enjoy a large bottle of bourbon and self pity or perhaps, if you’re lucky, a pile of well kept Percocet.

8. Be- Bop A Lula - Gene Vincent And The Blue Caps

This song is so iconic and intrinsic to the history of rock music it is the perfect back drop to the bad ass Rebel Without a Cause feel of Wild at Heart. It also sounds an awful lot like Elvis but I assure you that it is Gene Vincent, and he is amazing.

9. Smoke Rings - Glen Gray And The Casa Loma Orchestra

Classic piece of 30’s jazz. Subdued. This is perfect depression era stuff with beautiful clarinets riding up and down out of a bed of somewhat delicate sadness. A very popular song to cover from the big band era.

10. Perdita - Rubber City
A down and dirty surf song with raunchy saxophone that is perfect for this often very naughty picture. This is the kind of music that is too good for a porno, but just perfect for your own bedroom when you want to play super porn star with your Mrs. Listen for the the exquisite guitar overlayed on a bouncing field of piano staccato.

11. Blue Spanish Sky - Chris Isaak

Another haunting piece by Isaak that didn’t attain the same popularity as Wicked Game, but shows off more of his dark cowboy styling with a hint of a yodel.

12. Dark Spanish Symphony ( Edited) ( String Version) - Angelo Badalamenti And Kinny Landrum

Another beautiful piece that feels just bigger than the goddamn world and plays a wonderful theme with great drama and angst behind the large opening.

13. Dark Spanish Symphony (50's Version) - Rubber City

A rendition of the Badalamenti theme, created by Rubber City whose member David Slusser has been a collaborator with John Zorn and Mike Patton Rubber City’s other entry Perdita sounds a whole lot like RV by Faith No More so finding out that Patton and Slusser had collaborated makes all the more sense.

14. Dark Lolita - Angelo Badalamenti And Kinny Landrum
Another original piece by Badalamenti and Landrum.

15. Love Me Tender - Nicolas Cage
This song always makes me cry, but much in the same way that Love Me is used in the film, also performed by cage this is more a song of enduring personal freedom and love beyond the forces of filth and evil.

Thanks to Tromeric for having me along for the Lynch Week

- Doc Terror






From the bowels and brains of American International to the rib cage and eye sockets of Amicus, Dr. James Terror will write your eyes shut with, well... TERROR!!! (and perhaps a bit of camp now and again for flavor). The focus of DOCTERROR.COM is to enjoy and shape the horror-verse for the horror community. We review a variety of horror and science fiction titles with a focus on positive or constructive reviews meant to guide the audience rather than create a negative environment. You'll find retrospectives, lists, faux movies and faux video games as well as giveaways and tributes.Writing Your Eyes Shut From the Pre-History to the Post-Apocalypse of Horror. In addition to DOCTERROR.COM Dr. Jimmy also contributes to The Liberal Dead, The Dead Air Horror and Genre Podcast and The Little Punk People Blog. Look for his annual Italian Horror Week mid-July featuring guest writers, giveaways, and 8-Bit Faux video games by Hacktvision based on some of your favorite Italian Horror features.

Monday, July 28, 2014

So Much Concentrated Weirdness: David Lynch’s Adaptation Style in Wild at Heart- Chad Abushanab






    I've seen Wild at Heart a number of times since I first it watched it in college. It's not my very favorite Lynch effort, for sure, but in a career like David Lynch's, even my least favorite of his films are far and away above the work of most other writer/directors. So let me be clear: while Wild at Heart isn't his best (in my humble opinion), it's still fucking awesome, and definitely deserves to be included in serious conversations about film.


     































On a recent whim, I decided to pick up a used copy of Barry Gifford's novel of the same title, the source material for Lynch's adaptation. The book's cover has Laura Dern and Nicolas Cage on it, arm in arm, as the infamous Sailor Ripley and Lula Fortune. And while I usually try to avoid buying books with artwork inspired by their recent film adaptations for pretentious aesthetic reasons, I just couldn't argue with Nic Cage's smoky gaze. Besides this, I hoped that the novel, at a surprisingly short 159 pages, might provide some insight into how someone like David Lynch goes about making a pre-existing story something uniquely his own. To that end, Wild at Heart is the ultimate example of Lynch's adaptation style when not under the influence of studio higher-ups with vested interest in the script (see: Dune, The Elephant Man).


    Lynch's take on the story of Sailor and Lula fully embodies the titular line from both the film and the novel: "The world is really wild at heart and weird on top." In fact, Lynch manages to visualize that sentiment in a way that is, in a sense, far more palpable than in Gifford's novel. The points of plot of wilder and the characters are rendered a hell of a lot weirder. At least this is the conclusion I came to after finishing the book and then re-watching the movie. My immediate reaction when first starting the book, however, was a bit different. Originally, I thought that Lynch really played it fast and loose with Gifford's narrative. I know from reading about the production of the film that Lynch completed his first draft in under a week, and I thought this may have influenced him to rely more so on his own imaginings than the actual book. In fact, Lynch's alterations to the structure of the story alone are numerous enough to turn his film's narrative into an entirely different animal all together. Characters are missing, new characters are added. Original plot points are tuned way down while new twists and turns are created. And this doesn't even begin to go into the subtle and overt thematic changes the film makes, like, and this just me pulling something out of the air, the fact that The Wizard of Oz is never so much as mentioned in the book, despite the huge allegorical role it plays in the film. In short, the two versions of Wild at Heart are different. Like, really, really different.


    After a time, though, I began to feel like there was more of a method to his adaptation madness. Lynch stays eerily faithful to certain, often times subtle aspects of Gifford's novel. Whole swatches of dialogue are transplanted despite their awkward jump from the written word to the stage. Certain characters are casted and directed in a way that is uncannily close to what I saw when reading the book. It's clear that Lynch had a lot of respect for the source material. For example, his direction of Laura Dern as Lula is absolutely spot-on. Listen to the way that Dern constantly delivers her lines with a rising intonation regardless of what she’s saying. This is because Gifford distinctly indicated this style of speech in the novel by having many (like 70%) of Lula’s lines end with question marks—even when they aren’t questions. It’s a strange quirk of characterization that Lynch recognizes as important to the uniqueness of Gifford’s book and decides to retain wholesale.


    He’s also incredibly faithful to the character of Bobby “Like the Country” Peru (Willem Defoe). Even though the “Fuck me” scene is a creation of Lynch’s imagination, it’s by no means a stretch from the presumptuous and ostentatious character of the novel. Peru is sinister and crass, and is truly the bringer of undoing for Sailor and Lula. Lynch merely dialed this up a bit. He didn’t change the character, per se, but gave us a more fleshed out version of him. A better actor than Defoe truly could not have been selected to bring Peru to life. Not only this, but Peru’s totally fucked up teeth—all three of them—are described, in detail, by Gifford (the words “round” and “brown” are thrown around), and believe me, Lynch gets that shit picture-perfect as well.


    So if he’s going to stick so closely to certain details why, then, so many bizarre changes to the central structure of things? I don't think it's so much a matter of hubris on Lynch’s part—that he thought he could tell a better story—but rather he imagined the stories behind what was very obliquely alluded to by Gifford. He saw grand possibility in what was many times glossed over. Basically, and you'll have to bare with me here, Lynch turned the strongest points of technique in Gifford's novel on their heads to create a wonderfully nontraditional adaptation (though “interpretation” really seems like a better word).


    Over all, Gifford’s novel is written in a very minimalist style. Imagery is kept spare, and characters’ backgrounds are abstractly defined, if referenced at all. Lynch, on the other hand, takes a decidedly maximalist approach to the film, creating complex backgrounds and side plots based wholly around instances in the novel that often times get no more than a sentence notice. For example, the ruthless mobster Marcellus Santos, who plays an important role in Lynch’s rendition, is mentioned once, in passing only, in a conversation between Marietta Fortune and her best friend Dal (who, curiously, is excised from Lynch’s version). It’s simply said that Santos stopped coming around after Clyde Fortune died. I wouldn’t even go as far as to call that mildly sinister, and yet Lynch creates a whole persona and series of fiery events around the character. And as for Clyde—whom Sailor supposedly witnessed getting burned alive by Santos, Perdita, and Marietta—well, all we get from Gifford is that he died cleaning lead paint without a mask. No murder plot, no conspiracy. Just a guy who should’ve worn a mask while chipping lead paint off his house.

As I said, the plot—in comparison to the film—is very barebones. It’s largely a series of conversations between Sailor and Lula in motel rooms across the country. Lynch takes these very bare conversations and creates bizarre side streets, like the episode with Lula’s cousin Del (a wonderfully edgy Crispin Glover). What is easily one of the most memorable moments in the film gets very little attention from Gifford. Unsurprisingly, there is no mention of cockroaches on anuses anywhere in the source material. Also, the episode where Bob Ray Lemon is brutally beaten to death by Sailor is merely mentioned a couple of times in the book, and the circumstances behind Sailor’s act of “self defense” are left entirely up to the reader to determine. In fact the whole book functions without a single flashback, while the film relies pretty heavily on them. Basically, anywhere Lynch can find an unexplored avenue of weirdness in the novel, he takes the opportunity to see it through. Then, after a total pumping up of events and sequences, he begins to play connect the dots, insuring that everything is tied to something. The result is a web-like story that moves backwards and forwards, going off on tangents and then looping back over itself. It’s a far cry from the strictly linear sequence of events Gifford arranged. And let’s not even get into the uniquely Lynchian additions to the cast of characters—those that don’t even appear in the novel: Mr. Reindeer, Dropshadow, Juana, the car crash girl, and .00 Spool among them.
Strangely, where Gifford goes out of his way to develop characters into three-dimensional beings, Lynch often plays them back down. A really great example of this is the character of Johnnie Farragut (Harry Dean Stanton). Farragut really comes alive in Gifford’s novel. We spend a good deal of time with him (second only to Sailor and Lula), and get to hear a lot of his thoughts on life and the world. He’s a surprisingly existential dude, and he writes weird little Twilight Zone-esque short stories throughout the novel—a couple of which we get excerpts of as brief asides from the main action of the book. Lynch’s Farragut, on the other hand, plays like more of a dopey, ambling detective, who sits in hotel rooms barking at nature shows on the television like a fucking dog for some reason. While Gifford’s Farragut is a strong, self-possessed character, Lynch’s variation always struck me as kind of pathetic in his mindless devotion to Marietta and her whims. A very strange decision, for sure, but it definitely works to build up the aesthetic of weirdness that D.L wants to cultivate.
In Lynch’s book Catching the Big Fish, which is mostly about Transcendental Meditation and the role it can play in the creative process, he says that you have to go to the deep waters to catch the big fish. So I suppose that in order to plumb the depths of Wild at Heart, Lynch had to go beyond even the boundaries of what was written to discover the story underneath the story. Not necessarily the straight story (ha, jokes!), but the story hidden in the shadows of Gifford’s prose. It’s like he read the book, thought, “But what really happened to the father?” and just went from there. Somewhere along the line, as he typically does, he decided to include a bunch of close-ups of fire and a character who speaks in nonsensical riddles. And so another David Lynch masterpiece was born. Even though I’m being a bit silly here, I truly believe that in order to make Wild at Heart, he had to deconstruct what was essentially a straightforward road novel and turn it into a mood piece: something that exudes a feeling rather than a traditional story. Because in the end, we don’t really care so much about what happened to Lynch’s Sailor and Lula. We care about the way in which we saw those events unfold. It’s truly an example of the storytelling taking precedent over the story. Like a really wild and fucked up painting of something like a tree or a rake. Trees and rakes aren’t all that interesting, but proper delivery of such an image can be mood altering. And, curiously, the more I try to explicate why this style of filmmaking is exceptional, the more the nature of the exception eludes me. However it was done, though, we’re certainly all better off for having seen Wild at Heart. If you haven’t lately, I suggest you throw on a snakeskin jacket and exercise your personal freedom to give it another go around.


-Chad Abushanab











Chad Abushanab is a PhD student in literature and creative writing. While slowly wasting away in the West Texas sun, he writes about films, comics, and television for various outlets, including his own blog Full Meta Jacket. He also makes music that's sure to go top 40's any day now.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

On The Air With C. Gusta





There are a lot of TV shows that start off great and slowly, over time lose focus and fall apart. On the Air is not one of those shows. In what today comes off as a big "Screw you" to ABC from David Lynch and Mark Frost on the heels of the cancellation of Twin Peaks, On the Air starts off as ridiculous nonsense, and progresses towards more and more insane pandemonium until it becomes unclear how this show was made in the first place.

The first episode starts off logically enough- there's a new show, The Lester Guy show, which the network is hoping will pull in viewers due to the dubious star power of Lester Guy (played by Ian Buchanan, pretty much reprising his Twin Peaks role of an unlikeable idiot with delusions of grandeur). Of course, the opening episode, going out live, immediately turns disastrous due to everyone falling apart the second they hit the air, and after fifteen minutes of slap-stick, fart jokes, and surreal levels of stupidity on the part of everyone involved, is saved by Betty, an "actress" who seems to have just inhaled a bunch of paint-thinner, sings a song for her mother. There are some funny moments here- a phone the erupts with flame, Ian Buchanan being dipped in dog food, etc. Overall, I get the feeling that this could have been a legitimate, though ill-advised show. I remember watching this on TV a teenager and not hating it. I don't hate it now. But it doesn't really make sense. I remember John Waters saying in an article one time that there are two things audiences don't like - camp and surrealism, and these are really the two threads holding this show together.

The second episode is much the same, though not as funny, spending most of it's time playing off of the studio head's weird, fake Nordic accent and establishing that everyone is going to be out to get Betty for the rest of the series. It also establishes that references to Blinky's bizarre vision-problem are going to happen every episode, the dog from the first episode is inexplicably going to hang around on set, and there are ducks running loose.

As we started watching episode three today, it became strangely clear that I had, despite having two different versions of the VHS of this show, never watched beyond episode two. I regret this now, because after episode two, the show basically falls into nonsensical mayhem. The same jokes are played out here as in all the episodes except, here, the nervous and allergic McGonigle is visited by a veterinarian who gives him a miracle cure for his problems, but when he takes too much he becomes a genius who puffs out strange colored smoke. Also, there's a quiz show called "Weiner Tukas Alle."

 This leads into episode four, which continues in the same vein, with a guest star, Stan Tailings (played by Freddie Jones, or the guy who shouts in a duck voice about pigeons having diseases in Wild at Heart) and who turns the episode into a walking fart joke. Also, inexplicably, in a moment of distress, McGonigle has one of the creepiest one-line monologues in all of the Lynch cannon, no kidding.

And onward to episode five, which basically just throws the show off of the deep end. Another pair of guest stars, Betty's snob sister and a ventriloquist with the most disturbing dummy outside of nightmares show up. Things go awry as normal, but when "Mr. Peanut" (also, ) is insulted by the wicked sister, the whole cast gangs up on her and, through an impromptu musical number, even Miguel Ferrer's usually insanely angry character (like his TP role without the 2nd season softening) wind up looking like humans, in some sort of nod towards their childhoods? 

Episode 6 stops trying to make any kind of sense. There's a magician who only remembers who he is when the dog (that same dog!) appears, and then wreaks havoc on everything. Nancye Ferguson's character, Ruth (my least favorite part of the entire series, despite really wanting to give old Hatchet-face a chance) is turned into a lizard? Blinky and the magician seem to be best buds? I don't even know.

And finally, episode 7 sees the show slide into insanity. For the first ten minutes, everyone appears to be drugged, and Lester has suddenly decided to align himself with the "beatniks". There's a weird this with shoes, another weird thing about a machine that destroys your ability to speak and the creepy scientist guy who controls it, and a still weirder thing about not knowing your mother's name. And finally, there is another whole cast dance sequence to close out the show.


Analysis? This is a show about how television works, in some ways. The things that get made, both the Lester Guy Show and, on the more meta-plane, On the Air itself, really don't make any sense. The show is filled with the kind of humor that you'd expect if David Lynch and Mark Frost were stoned high-school students, not both accomplished filmmakers, which really leads to the sense that this whole series was some sort of strange inside joke. But really, I like inside jokes, and as mind-boggling as this show is, it's at least amazing to think that somehow the creative forces got money out of a major television station to make it, and probably laughed it up the whole time.

 - C. Gusta

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Dark Side of John Mellencamp: A Look At Blue Velvet



                                     



                                         "Well I was born in a small town
                                         And I can breathe in a small town
                                         Gonna die in this small town
                                         And that's prob'ly where they'll bury me..."

                                                                                         John Mellencamp







The small town. In the worlds of John Mellencamp, Bruce Springsteen, and country music
singers, these slices of Americana are the place no one wants to leave (or if they do, they always come back).  If you didn't come from a small town, you were hopelessly backward and out of touch. It's the place where families pray, stay, believe in the red, white, and blue without question or exception. Leave it to director David Lynch to knockdown this antiquated stereotype with 1986's Blue Velvet.

On the surface, it's a film noir. Kyle McLaughlin searching for the owner of a severed ear, aided by Laura Dern whose father is a local police detective. Soon, he is drawn into the evil underbelly of his hometown of Lumberton. The dwellers of this slice of Hell are Isabella Rossellini and the hideous but brilliant Dennis Hopper. The noir turns itself into
a surreal display of sex, beatings, drug abuse, huffing ether, Dean Stockwell lip-synching to Roy Orbison's In Dreams. All for the love of a kidnapped child.

Why does this work? Lynch is so brilliant in welding his organized insanity with the backdrop of small town America. Also, he tells the truth. Many small towns I've lived in have beatings, drug abuse, sexual violence while trying to maintain a veneer of safety and comfort. The linchpin holding this together, however, is Dennis Hopper. Frank Booth is just a pure grade son of a bitch, and he doesn't care if you know. His performance is rather comparable to Heath Ledger's Joker in many aspects. You don't root for Frank, you hate his guts, but you enjoy seeing what he does next.

If you've not had a chance to watch this movie, I highly suggest you do. Any hopes you hold of beautiful small town American life will crawl away like ants from a severed ear.


-by Eric Polk




  

Eric Polk is a lifelong horror fan from the days of the VHS and mom and pop video store. He is
the author of several short stories including The 12:07 to Stoningham and Blitz. In addition, he co-hosts the Dollar Bin Horror Radio podcast with Rhonny Reaper.