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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Shock(aka Beyond The Door 2) (1977)

I distinctly remember seeing this, Mario Bava's last film at the Drive-In when I was a child. In the States it was released as Beyond The Door II, although it has nothing at all to do with the first film. I guess that American distributors thought that it would be an easier sell that way, even though the original was far from a hit here. I also remember this slow-burn, creepy little film, scaring the shit out of me! It is heavy on atmosphere, just the way I like them, but doesn't always make a lot of sense, but then again, when did Italian horror ever make sense?

Dora and her husband Bruno move back into the sprawling house that she used to share with her now deceased ex-husband. She has an eight year old son called Bruno, who is the most entertaining part of the film. He doesn't know that his father is dead, and apparently committed suicide. Soon after arriving in the house, Marco begins to exhibit some very strange behavior. He feigns copulating his mother, puts razors between the keys of her piano, and becomes possessed by the spirit of his dead father. As I said earlier, the film is quite slow and can become "talky", but it's Bava, and the man knows how to create a tense atmosphere. By the films end, we find out that Dora had become a bit crazy after the death of her husband, and had to be committed for a while. We also learn that his body has been walled in the wall of the basement by someone? I can only recommend this to people who prefer substance, style, and atmosphere over gore and action. If that is you, definitely check this one out!

Leslie Nielson R.I.P.

One of the funniest men ever, who also appeared in many genre films like Prom Night, Day Of The Animals, and Repossessed. I hope you are in a better place sir.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Slumber Party Massacre Legacy

The Slumber Party Massacre(1982)- I have always held a special place in my heart for the original entry in this franchise. There is something special about the film, beyond all of the feminist angles that have been leveled at it. It has a very nice, dark atmosphere, and the music is quite extraordinary for a genre film. It's crowning achievement in my opinion in Micheal Villella's performance as the maniacal Russ Thorn. The film gives no explanation other than Thorn has just escaped from a mental institution, for his rampage against the teen girls at the slumber party. There is no element of humor in his performance, while the film itself is quite humorous, herein lies the magic in the formula, that they never managed to reproduce. It's a short and compact film, that cuts right to the chase, and all of the performances are quite good for this kind of film. It's sad that most of the people involved have distanced themselves from the project, and wouldn't appear in the new documentary Sleepless Nights to discuss it. I know that girl that played Valerie, killed herself, but the only participants were the director, and one of the small roles, and Brinke Stevens. There are far worse films that you could be associated with in this day and age. I won't go into a plot synopsis of the film, as if you are reading this blog, I am sure that you are familiar with the film. If not, please check it out, a good time to be had by all.

The Slumber Party Massacre Part 2(1987)- In all of my years as a horror enthusiast, I have never understood what people see in this steaming pile of dung! I remember when it hit video, and I was 16 years old, I stayed home from school and went and rented it. Boy was I let down! I hadn't seen it since then, until 2 nights ago. Not much had changed for me, except that I can appreciate the whole "cheesiness" angle of it all. The performances are all funny, and it would be a great cult film like the first film, had the director not chosen to portray the villain that way. He comes off as a laughable cross between Andrew "Dice" Clay and Billy Idol. Any suspense that could have been wrung out of the film is ruined by his non-stop singing and dancing as he chases his victims. Don't even get me started on that damned guitar drill!! It really is a shame, because there are some great effects in this installment, the drill through the chest gag in this one, is a standout for the whole series! I don't blame Crystal Bernard for disowning it, and refusing to ever speak about it, I wouldn't either.

The Slumber Party Massacre 3(1990)- For some odd reason, for years I never knew that this installment existed. I never even saw until last night, and I was presently surprised. It seems that the filmmakers were at least trying to make a picture more in line with the first film. Even though the decision to make the killer a young pretty boy was baffling! His motive was kind of perverse and that was cool. There are plenty of red herrings in this one, and I didn't guess the identity until half way through, so that was pretty cool. Even though it was darker and gorier than the second film, they seemed to copy the cheesiness and silly dances and such from that film. I would say that it is a pretty even mixture of both of the previous films. But it definitely stands as my second favorite of the films. So if you wanna make a good night of it, skip the second and watch the first and the third. Good Times.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Night Of Horror(1978)

Horror fans, myself included, can be a very masochistic group. We will go out of way to see a film that we have heard is the "worst horror movie ever made". I am very guilty of this and have seen some real stinkers in my time, but Troll 2, Savage Water, Axe Em', and Scream(1981), have nothing on Night Of Horror! I had seen the horrendous cover art in the video store for years and never actually rented it. Years later I read about it on IMDB, and by the way it was reviewed, I knew that it was something that I HAD to see. Then last year, several people over at The Body Count Continues board kept telling me it was in fact, the worst movie ever made! I knew that I couldn't find it, as it has never been released on DVD(rightfully so). So a friend from the boards sent me a DVD-R copy of it. For some reason, I never found myself in the right mood to see such a film, I mean some preparation had to go into this. Today, I found myself alone in the house, and suffering from a cold, I already felt bad......so why not?

Most "bad" films can be listed in the "so bad they are good" category, or at least have some redeeming qualities. The kind of film that you want to show to your friends, so you can all crack up at how horrible it is. Night Of Horror is NOT that kind of film! It is just plain wretched and horrible, and it has NO redeemable qualities at all. It was made in 1978, but looks at least 10 years older than that. The script is so bad, you would think it was written by an elementary school Drama class. The lighting looks like it was provided by a single spot light, and there are smudges on the camera lens that stay on there for extended periods during the film. I would not recommend this film to ANYONE, not even fellow bad movie enthusiasts.

The plot or story, if you can call it that, goes like this. The film starts in a bar(which is actually someones basement, attempting to look like a bar), two guys mumble incomprehensibly for what seems like forever. One of the men is a "California Rock Star" and the other is attempting to coerce him into re-joining the band. The reason that he can't is that he has suffered this horrible ordeal, and the telling of this ordeal is the entire movie. Rock star and his brother and 2 females are driving cross country to check out their dad's cabin in the woods. They drive a ramshackle RV that looks like it wouldn't make it two blocks. One of the girls reads a poem forever, and says that she is clairvoyant. They drive and talk forever, until they come across a gaggle of Civil War "ghosts". Which just looks like some bought stock footage of a Civil War reenactment, and stuck it in the film. Then they bury a plaster skull in hallowed ground and the film is over. Shoddy, horrible, atrocious, all of these are not enough to describe this film. I am glad that it's not readily available, because I don't want anyone else to waste 75 minutes of their life like I did.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Beyond The Door(1974)

I have always had a soft spot for this Italian made Exorcist rip off. I remember seeing it and Beyond The Door part 2(Mario Bava's Shock), together at a drive in when I was a kid. Both of the films, even though Shock is not an official sequel, scared me to the core, and I could not shake them. Juliet Mills stars as a well to do housewife, that while pregnant, becomes possessed by the devil. The film is not very well made, and is very derivative of the aforementioned Linda Blair film. But is has a sense of humour that is out of this world, and that makes all the difference to me. Jessica's children are completely hilarious, Gail her daughter, curses like a sailor, and Ken the little boy, drinks soup out of a can with a straw the entire film. The script is horrible, and the music sounds like really bad lounge music. In no way can I claim that this is a "good" film, it's just very fun, and very nostalgic to look back upon. If you have to see every possession film, and have yet to see Chi Sei(Beyond The Door), run out and rent this one right away, you most definitely don't want to purchase it.

Swans:My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky(2010)

The Swans are an emotional tour de force. The band formed in 1982, as a part of the influential "No Wave" scene. Micheal Gira, the mastermind and mainstay behind the Swans moniker, carried on in various lineups until 1997. When they broke up, many of us diehards were disappointed, but he quickly formed a new band called, The Angels Of Light. While Angels were a brilliant band, they tended to tread lighter notes, and not have as much vitriol as Swans. I enjoyed both bands, but Swans had that foreboding, menacing, quality that not many bands outside of the Metal circles could rival. So when I heard that Micheal was reforming the Swans, I was ecstatic.


The first product of the new lineup is the new CD, My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky, and it is absolutely brilliant! It captures everything that I love about Swans, but adds a mellower, more acoustic beauty that he explored with Angels Of Light. The record is relatively short and to the point, and I think that it could gather Swans a whole new fan base. Many diehards are upset that Jarboe, the female chanteuse that was the yang to Micheal's yin, is not along for the ride. It bothers me none at all because the record is that good. For those who are not familiar there are elements of Sonic Youth, Glenn Branca, Jandek, and many other "outsider" artists to the Swans sound. But it is nigh impossible to give you a straightforward description of the music. If you are an adventurous listener, and stray far outside of "pop" music, you might wanna give it a try, you might be glad that you did.

Brian McBride:The Effective Dissconnect(Music Composed For The Documentary "The Vanishing Of Bees"

Brian Mcbride is one half of the ambient/drone duo, The Stars Of The Lid. The music that he composes is so beautiful and otherworldly. Very similar to Classical Music, only a lot more minimal, and definitely more spacey. It's the kind of music that you put on and drift away to another place. For those of you who meditate or do yoga, this would be perfect for you. It's definitely not something that you would want to listen to while driving, or cleaning the house. You will know when the mood arises, and you need something this soul cleansing. Like Brian Eno's best ambient records(Music For Airports, On Land) this has the ability to take you to another place. If it is appropriate for you, please check it out. I have not the seen the documentary that this was composed for, but it seems very interesting, and I will definitely check it out, when it hits DVD.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Moving: The Blue Period.

        My friend, the lovely Amanda By Night, and I were just discussing our similarities in emotion after making really big moves lately. Amanda from LA to Maryland, and myself from Florida to North Carolina. When you have lived in a certain place for a long time, and you move to a new city, things will definitely change. This is what we have dubbed "the Blue Period". I am almost through mine, although Amanda stated that she is definitely still immersed in hers. But to her credit, I didn't move from a hot spot like LA! My partner Jeff and I are lucky enough to have two really good friends here, and we have made some more great ones. That helps a lot in that we are not totally alone here.
       That's the reason that the posts at Vitamin Burger have been really slow. I still have not started working, and that is a deafening blow to a man that has worked his whole life. You base your "worth" on your job, and how well you can provide for your loved ones. When you can't do that, you feel like a total loser! I feel like I have wasted the whole "creepy" month of Halloween, when I see how productive Meep over at Cinema Du Meep has been! Hopefully within the week, I will start my new job, and things will start looking up for me. Charlotte is a beautiful city, and there are definitely a bunch of creative things going on here. The concert schedule alone is enough to make me salivate. When I am able to attend some of them, I will be a happy man! So once again, I am asking my few loyal readers to stick with me, and things will start churning out again. Also, if you read VB regularly and you haven't signed up as a follower, please do so. When blogs try to get sponsorship, they look at things like that. I appreciate each and every one of you. Almost through the blue.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Frontier(s) (2007)

Horror fans can be a curious beast. They will lash out a great film for the silliest of reasons. I know it is a form of elitism, and I have been guilty myself many times, with music and film. But sometimes a film is lambasted for no apparent reason, and it really drives me crazy, such is the case of the French film Frontier(s). I personally feel that this film is a classic, and it holds up to repeated viewings, and just might be the French's version of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Sure most of the criticism against this film states that the film just goes straight for the gross out, but I feel that all of the violence exhibited in the film, is well within the restraints of the plot line.

The story concerns Yasmine, a beautiful young French lady, her brother, and a couple of miscreants who pull of a robbery during a dangerous riot in Paris. Yasmine's brother is shot, and dies in the Emergency Room, and she and her ex-boyfriend Alex tear off in the French countryside to meet their other two cohorts, who are holding the stolen cash. These two find a hostel out in the country attended to by Gilberte, who looks like a trashy version of Uma Therman, and her sister and ultra-brutish brother Goetz. Within minutes they have sex with the sisters, and another of their brothers Karl, shows up and starts attacking the two travellers. One is shot and beat up, but they escape only to wreck their car in a deep ravine. They make their way into an underground cavern which leads to a huge facility that was a mine, before the Second World War. Here the rest of the vicious family resides.

Yasmine and Alex show up at the hostel and demand to know where their friends are, so Gilberte takes them to the abandoned mine/house where her family is waiting. We find that the father is a German war hero, who still harbours plans to make a "master race". He has been killing(and eating) people for years, with the families help, keeping the females to help in his plan to create. All of the robbers are killed in very grisly ways, leaving only Yasmine to figure a way out of this living hell.

What is stunning to me is the actress that plays Yasmine(Karina Testa), not that she is an Oscar-caliber actress. But, she handles the role very well, and honestly transforms in front of your eyes. She is tough in the beginning of the film, but through the violence that she endures, is reduced to almost a "raw human nerve". Twitching and shaking and acting like a wild woman, this upon my first viewing, was the only thing that I had a problem initially. But upon this second viewing, it's easy to see that a person who has been abused to such extremes, could turn into proverbial "wild-woman".

I can most definitely recommend Frontier(s) to you, if you are a fan of extreme cinema. There is a lot of violence, and very tense moments, so it's not for the "casual" Horror fan. If you are one of the many "haters" of this film, I would love to hear why, as long as it's not the usual message board garbage like "it sucks!". I definitely would call this "torture porn" either, like most detractors would. As I said earlier, all of the violence is definitely what a family this insane who perform on their victims. Check it out if you do not have aversion to French films, you should be most happily satiated.

The Gift(2000)

Yes, I may be a horror nut, but I would have to say that The Gift is Sam Raimi's most accomplished film. Sure, I worship at the altar of The Evil Dead, but these two films are from two different worlds. It's a shame that The Gift isn't more loved, because it's an eerie Southern Gothic tale of psychic ability, deceit, and murder.

The wonderful Cate Blanchett stars as Annie Wilson, a recently widowed psychic in a small Georgia town. She makes her living by giving "readings" to the locals open enough to trust in her abilities. One of them is Valerie Barksdale(Hillary Swank), a backwoods girl who is beat on a daily basis by her husband Donnie(Keanu Reeves). Swank is amazing in this role, and you wouldn't believe how well she masters the look and sound of a "smalltown" girl. Donnie is none too happy about Valerie visiting Annie for what he considers "witchcraft". He begins threatening Annie and her family on a daily basis.

Meanwhile, the local school principal played by Greg Kinnear, is about to marry a local debutante, played by Katie Holmes. What he doesn't know is that Holmes is practically sleeping with the whole town. Annie witnesses this first hand at a party one night. So when Holmes goes missing, Annie starts getting visions of a dead Holmes haunting her. The local law enforcement comes to Annie for help, but they persecute her at the same time. Holmes is found dead, and they arrest Reeves character for the murder(wrongfully so). It's up to Annie to help figure out who and why that Holmes is dead.

The strength of the film lies mostly in the beautiful, swampy, locations, and the wonderful supporting cast. Giovanni Ribisi in particular is amazing, and the plight that he suffers in the film is horrible. I wish Raimi would make more films in this vein, if he is not going to continue the Evil Dead saga, because I feel that he truly made his master work with The Gift.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Freaks And Geeks(1999)

What is about American Television that cannot sustain a show that isn't totally brainless? Look at Twin Peaks, a show so smart and inventive, that it has became a cult phenomenon to this day. It only lasted two seasons. Freaks and Geeks is one of the best shows ever to be featured on Network Television, and it only lasted one season. It was a smart and honest portrayal of High School in 1980, and featured many stars before they became so. You had Seth Rogen, James Franco, Busy Phillips, Linda Cardellini and Jason Segal. I have no doubt that if the show was released now, in the age of "Apatow", it would be a huge hit. I didn't see it during it's initial run, but thanks to Youtube and DVD, it's now one of my favorites. If you haven't had the pleasure, I wholeheartedly suggest that you do so.

Vitamin Burger Is Back!!

I am now relocated in Charlotte, NC......so expect posts to start happening again, thanks for your patience!!

Mitch

Monday, September 6, 2010

Relocating.

Just wanted to let everyone know there will be a short hiatus at Vitamin Burger, while we relocate the headquarters. We are moving from the sunny, oily, all too hot, locale of Florida, to more beautiful Charlotte, North Carolina. There might be a sporadic post from time to time, but expect the site to pick up again in late September/early October. Thanks for your patience.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Album Cover Art: Rock & Roll Edition



When you were a child of the 60's, 70's, or 80's, and you grew up staring at the covers of albums while blasting the tunes through humongous headphones, a tiny CD image does not suffice. When I stared into those covers long enough it seemed I was teleported to some Rock N' Roll dimension, that only I understood. There just isn't enough time or effort put into the packaging of music these days. These are some of my favorites, doesn't always mean that I love the record, just the image. You can tell by these choices I that tend to gravitate to the design aspect of artwork, not just a fantastical drawing.

Album Cover Art: Punk Edition

Album Cover Art: Black Metal Edition

Since I am in an art mood this month, and I already did some posts on movie posters, I decided that I would display some of my favorite album art. I also am a voracious music listener and encompass many genres, so I will split them accordingly. This post has some Black Metal cover art that I love. That genre has many covers that I hold dear to my heart, so there might multiple BM posts. Even if you don't like that genre, you will have to agree that the art and the covers can be magnificent.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

More Poster Art

Behold The Awesomeness.....






The Lost Art Of Posters 1

Now that Horror films are no longer a "big" thing, and you must have a major studio's name attached to your film, if you want to get it in theatre's, the poster is almost a thing of the past. When I was a kid I would stand in front of the theatre for what seemed like hours, just staring at the awesome artwork, and wondered what terror's the films would unleash. These days we have to stare at DVD sized art, and that is usually some Photoshopped job, that looks like an 8th grader with a nice computer designed it. For us children of the 70's and 80's that just doesn't do it! Here are a few examples of how cool posters can be, and here's to hoping they make a triumphant return!






Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Inferno(1980)


Dario Argento has made a career out of making confusing and confounding films. Most of these films I absolutely love, and there are a few that I hate(the later films), and then there is Inferno. This is the film that he created as the follow up to Suspiria, and the second in the Three Mothers Trilogy. It is one of the films that actually get better with repeated viewings. It is very Gothic and surreal and it's hard to follow what's going on, but the murders are so visceral, that it's a lot of fun all the while.


The premise of the Three Mothers is that there are 3 witches located across the world in 3 different houses, and they plan to take over the world. The house in Inferno is in New York, and a poet named Rose Elliot lives there. She finds a copy of the Three Mothers book and reads it, and then some very strange things start to happen. She finds a room in the cellar that is submerged in water, and she swims to the bottom to retrieve the keys. This is the films most atmospheric scene. When Rose disappears, her brother Mark comes to look for her, and finds out about the mystery of the witches. There are some serious "WTF" moments that happen like a scene where the book shop owner dies. He is attacked by rats in a swampy park, and he screams for help, a hot dog vendor hears his cries and appears to come and help. When he reaches the man, he attacks him with a knife and a cleaver, in a very brutal murder.

There is not alot else to say about the film, if you are a fan of Argento's other films, and don't mind that this one is a bit more "obtuse". It stars 80's heartthrob Leigh McCloskey(Hamburger:The Motion Picture, Fraternity Vacation, Just One Of The Guys) in probably his most strangest role. If you like surreal horror with startling gore, this one is for you. Check it out.