Friday, July 17, 2009

The Toolbox Murders

The once-great Tobe Hooper remade this little 1977 psycho potboiler a few years ago and his interpretation sucked. I always thought the original looked cool. Guy in a ski-mask, power tools being not used for their intended purposes, a blurb from Stephen King on the cover, probably written back when he was awesome and had a major drinking problem. I like how King calls it "one of the 10 scariest movies on video cassette." You get the feeling that there were only 20 horror movies on VHS when he wrote that.

The film's opening is great. There is about a half hour straight of nearly non-stop carnage. Easy-listening music is used wonderfully as young ladies are power-drilled, screwdrived and nail-gunned. The direction is kind of weird and artsy, sort of Giallo- American style.

(Minor Spoilers Ahead):
If you couldn't figure out by looking at the back of the DVD case that Cameron Mitchell is the killer, guess what? Cameron Mitchell is the killer. He kidnaps a 15 year old girl and ties her up, making believe that she is his deceased daughter. There are many genuinely scary and disturbing moments where Mitchell sings to her, feeds her and asks her what it was like to die.

It turns out that Cameron Mitchell's nephew is in on the whole thing and he has to kill some people as well to cover his uncle's tracks. The film's strongest sequence is the first third, it slows down considerably in the middle, and the ending is just okay. Overall it is a fun little piece of 70s shlock slasher horror, with extra points for intense creepiness. It is also about 10,000 times more fun that the 2003 remake.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Flesh Burns and Infected Ingrown Toenails Hurt

So, here we are after a lengthy hiatus. You, my legions of fans, and I, that would be.... me. I haven't been writing this thing lately mainly due to laziness and from passing out at 9 p.m. every night after working hard all day. Today, my toe was operated on for a nagging, insanely painful infection that has bothered me on and off since January. I had an ingrown on the side of my toe, but it wasn't the nail itself that caused the problem, it was my toe's reaction to the nail and the subsequent infection. The Dr. said that I had the worst toenail infection he had seen so far in 2009. I'm proud of that. Pride goeth before a fall, so I felleth on my couch this afternoon with my foot elevated and watched "Fleshburn".

"Fleshburn" is yet another VHS purchase from the late, great Video Galaxy XVI. I will be watching the many VHS tapes I bought during their closing sale for a lonnnng time. "Fleshburn" is an obscure revenge flick about a crazed Native American Vietnam vet who escapes from an insane asylum and vows revenge on the psychiatrists who sent him there. The crazy vet is played by Sonny Landham, who, if you are like me and watch "Predator" several times a year, you will recognize as "Billy", the bad ass Indian tracker.

Its a promising premise, and for the first 25 minutes or so, it really seems like the film will deliver. I mean, what's not to love about Sonny Landham on a crazed rampage? Well, he kidnaps his old doctors, dumps him in the desert and then the bickering between the shrinks begins. You know who are annoying? Self obsessed yuppies. You know what's annoying to watch? Self obsessed yuppies bickering. One character, Sam, is pretty cool, he's the survivalist type that is gonna survive come hell or high water. Unfortunately, the other three doctors are super annoying. There's Jay, who bitches about everything and is played by a bad actor. The female doctor whose name I can't remember and isn't worth looking up on IMDB because I don't care, gets to be the super whiny hysterical type. Then there's the gay guy who breaks his leg and finds God and gives Sam a bunch of crap about wanting to kill Sonny Landham. "You're only concerned about proving that your power is greater than his," he says. Shove it, God boy! That's what I would have told him.

The middle to end of the movie is at turns boring, aggravating and disappointing. Although it is great to see Sonny Landham as a crazy bad guy, he is criminally underused. There are usually just shots of him chanting and painting his face before the film gets back to what its really interested in: a bunch of jerky shrinks bickering with each other and Sam making things out of rocks and pieces of metal.

Overall, not very good. The premise is blown by the underuse of Sonny Landham and the ending really sucks. Hope my next entry doesn't take me a month and a half.

I was wondering what Landham has been up to, as he was a great 1980s cinematic badass... came up with this... no wonder he hasn't been in anything lately.