Directed by Georg Fenady
I don?t know what queer horror acid fantasy this popped out of, but Arnold is one piece of truly twisted
gothic camp. From way back in the Seventies this rarity concerns a pissed off old rich dead guy who marries a stewardess and
kills off everyone he knew . . .
Opening up in a pink-hued, mist-shrouded, prop cemetary (replete with raven and black cat, yet), the credits
roll as a funeral party carries a coffin bearing the late Earl of Dwellyn (Norman Stuart, as the title character) to the chapel.
They?re followed by a bridal entourage that enters the graveyard to a showtune praising ?warm sweet Arnold.? Tailing the coffin
into the chapel, Lady Karen (?Stellar? Stella Stevens) takes her place at the altar, where her husband-to-be Arnold stands
in his coffin in full aristocratic regalia. Eyes half open and with a vague smile of smug satisfaction pasted onto his preserved
puss, Arnold is the dead guy who has it all: huge mansion, cosmetic industry fortune, and a hot new wife thanks to his death
nullifying the marriage to his previous wife, Jocelyn (Shari Wallis, who also sings the ridiculous necrophilial title song).
A wine-guzzling Victor Buono shakily performs the wedding ceremony, pronouncing the corpse and lady man and wife, and everyone
present is confused as hell. (Viewer included.) But as the bride and groom are led away to the jaunty strains of ?Arnold!
Arnold!? all are promised that everything will be explained later that evening.
Up at the manor house Arnie?s dotty sister Hester (Elsa Lanchester) has him placed in the drawing room,
where he will continue to preside over his domain even in death. Arnold?s coffin has been fitted with several upgrades to
enhance his stay among the living, including a motorized headrest and a car stereo-style tape player, and it is through this
latter device that a cassette recording of Arnold reciting his will is played. In a gloating tone dripping with monied contempt
and supernatural arrogance, Lord Arnold?s dead voice speaks out to the motley crew of his money-hungry survivors. Arnold?s
sister Hester and his attorney cousin Douglas Whitehead (Patric Knowles) are given token shares of the Dwellyn estate, while
his widow Lady Jocelyn is left with little more than her pretentious title. Arnold?s younger wastrel of a brother, Robbie
(Roddy McDowall), is given absolutely nothing. Not surprisingly Arnold?s new and much younger wife Karen is given her husband?s
property, sole ownership of the Dwellyn Chemical Company, and even a legendary ?enormous horde of cash? stashed away in a
hidden vault somewhere. Provided, of course, that she remain with him always. Jocelyn is particularly bitter about this development,
receiving next to nothing for her refusal to divorce Arnold while he was still alive, and spitting ?Happy honeymoon, you bitch!?
to Arnold?s ?oversexed airline hostess? of a new bride, she beats a huffy retreat.
And then the backstabbing melodrama begins. Right in front of Arnold, and under the literally watchful eye
of his portrait (throughout the film one of the eyes in the painting slides away so that a mysterious eye can google down
upon the goings-on of the living), Robbie and Karen embrace and rejoice in their newfound freedom. But as will become the
pattern of Arnold?s infernal machinations, Hester blunders in with another cassette for the new Lady Dwellyn. When inserted
into the coffin Arnold?s voice booms out, sternly reprimanding his horny little brother for his covetous actions and putting
the spooks into the two lovebirds. As they rack their treacherous brains as to who might be helping Arnold carry out his spiteful
will from beyond the grave, Jocelyn is plotting out some rather devious moves of her own. Not only does she plan to contest
her late husband?s will, but old Arnold wasn?t the only one in their marriage having an affair. In fact Jocelyn is awaiting
her paramour at the Shield and Plume Inn even now, gloating in anticipation as she applies some cold cream. But as she smirks
at a photograph of Arnold, Jocelyn begins to notice that something?s wrong with her face cream ? somebody?s added a corrosive
chemical to the jar, and in seconds her face and hands are dissolving in vomitous burns. Jocelyn thrashes and wails about
the room, finally collapsing to be found by her lover moments later. (?Peeled like a ruddy onion she was,? observes Constable
Hooke some time later.) Her adulterous friend happens to be none other than good Cousin Douglas, and upon finding Lady Jocelyn?s
corpse the noble chap does the discrete thing and climbs out the window but quick.
As Robbie and Karen try to grab a celebratory squeeze over the news of Jocelyn?s passing they?re interrupted
once more, this time by Arnold?s faithful Hindu manservant Dybbi (an absolutely unrecognizable Jamie Farr). A sinister-looking
hook-handed mute with an eyepatch, Dybbi slips in to deliver another of Arnold?s post-mortem gloatings. Oozing out of the
coffin?s speakers Arnold?s voice addresses the couple about Jocelyn?s ?effective? demise and adds some vaguely threatening
words about what might befall the two of them should Karen fail to adhere to Arnold?s last wishes. Lending additional menace
to his words Arnold?s corpse even starts to follow Robbie and Karen about, as they find him waiting for them at Robbie?s place
when they return for a little romance. Upon rushing back to the mansion, Robbie throws open the coffin to find Arnold tucked
safely away, but with his shoes now caked with mud and weeds . . .
As the shaky couple prepare to head out and take a room at the Inn, Hester shows up with another surprise
package. But it?s not a cassette this time, instead it?s an expensive suit Arnold ordered some time before his death. The
thing is a maroon monstrosity, the kind of thing the Joker would be right at home in, but Bobbie can?t resist helping himself
to Arnie?s fancy goods and he tries it right on. Natty and purple, Robbie prowls around Arnold?s coffin indulging in a bit
of gloating on his own. Sneering that it is now he who has everything, Robbie soon begins to feel rather uncomfortable, as
if the suit isn?t quite the fit he thought it was. In fact it?s rapidly beginning to constrict, seizing Robbie in a fierce
grip that sends him rolling about the floor in a parody of tightly-bound agony. As the suit pulls itself ever tighter Robbie
has time to curse Arnold just once more before he splits like a sausage, his innards splattering all over Arnold?s coffin.
The day after, mourning in her tie-dyed dressing gown (?), Karen is visited by Constable Hooke, who rather
graphically describes Robbie?s demise before dropping off yet another cassette from beyond the mortal coil. But Karen won?t
play this one, having had enough of Arnold?s posthumous manipulation, and she begins to pack her bags with the immediate intention
of leaving her pickled spouse. As she does so however Arnold?s voice comes drifting out of the walls, insinuating itself into
the room to threaten her by boasting of Robbie?s premeditated demise and promising her that, ?There is no escape Karen ? you
and I will always be together.?
Now a near wreck (?I?m so upset and disturbed!?), Karen calls Cousin Douglas over and asks him to arrange
for a divorce. Although she offers him ten percent of the estate, Douglas wants more: half of everything, ?plus . . . fringe
benefits.? Karen reluctantly agrees, but as the two are about to share a toast Arnold?s voice bursts into the room. After
listening to Arnold chide them with the knowledge of exactly what is going on, Douglas is nearly as spooked at Karen. But
he has a scheme of his own, and sending Karen away he stalks around the coffin expressing his resentment at having to knuckle
under to Arnold for so many years. But now, ?I?m going to end up with both your boodle and your bride!? Pulling a derringer
from his pocket, Douglas declares, ?And when that jolly little friend of yours, whoever it is, comes sneaking in tonight to
remove or change that tape, he?s going to get it hot off the goose!? (?!)
But nobody taunts Arnold?s corpse, and later that night as Douglas stands watch Arnie?s voice suddenly surprises
him, rebuking Douglas for the lazy parasite that he is. As Cousin Douglas argues with Arnold?s dead body he helps himself
to some of Arnold?s ?excellent and very expensive? vintage cognac. Before gripping his throat and sliding to the floor (?Oh
good lord!?). ?Oh don?t be alarmed, dear boy,? Arnold?s voice tells him. ?The cognac isn?t lethal. It will merely help you
enjoy a very long, very deep and restful sleep.? The next we see of Cousin Douglas, he?s been wrapped in plastic and left
in a dumpster that is even now being emptied into a ?Crush-All Dispose-All? truck. As it drives away, innards grinding, it
leaves behind shreds of plastic and one of Douglas? feet.
After some obligatory remarks about ?one foot in the grave? (chortle) Cousin Douglas? associate Evan Lyons
(Farley Granger) comes to call on Karen. He picks up right where his partner left off, coming on with the, ?You?re so young
. . . so attractive . . . you can?t go on with a macabre arrangement like this,? routine, before proposing to help her out.
The increasingly desperate Karen is eager to offer him the same deal she had with his predecessor, a portion of the estate,
?plus fringe benefits,? and believing himself immune to Arnold?s murderous envy Lyons gets to work straightaway. Hunting for
the hidden treasure trove he and Karen make their way down into Arnold?s hidden basement workshop, but find only Dybbi?s headless
body. The poor bastard had somehow managed to get himself decapitated by a dumbwaiter guillotine (?), and so crushed are the
treasure hunters that after a hasty burial they strip down and jump into a hot shower together. As they embrace the walls
of the shower stall begin to press together, and Karen?s squeals grow ever higher as she and Lyons are brought together permanently.
Their bodies are found in the burned-out wreck of Lyons? car at the bottom of a cliff some time later (?Flat as griddlecakes
they was. And cooked to a turn if you don?t mind my saying so.?).
This leaves Hester pretty much alone with Arnold and his fortune, and sitting down for a cognac and a bit
of a chat with her brother she slips another tape into the coffin. ?Well done my dear devoted Hester. Playing this tape means
that you?ve carried out your final assignment with all the devotion you displayed in a lifetime of caring for me. And as I
planned so brilliantly, we can now be together, you and me forever.? Arnold goes on to boast about his skill in outwitting
all of those ?greedy little people,? but Hester chimes in to claim a share of the credit herself. She did all of the dirty
work after all, and what?s more she doesn?t plan on keeping the old stiff around the house anyway. ?Did you really imagine
I would keep you around forever, like some monster stuffed animal?? she demands, jabbing and poking at his dead pompous chest.
?I used you Arnie, just as you used me.? Closing the lid on Arnold for the last time, Hester has his coffin taken to the crematorium
and disposed of for good.
Back home in the graveyard Hester finds the caretaker Jonesy just finishing up the digging of Arnold?s grave.
She congratulates him, but he of course would prefer it if she showed her financially, seeing as how he did put in a lot of
extra hours disposing of all those bodies for her. Hester agrees wholeheartedly, as Jonesy has been a good and faithful worker.
But since Arnie?s been cremated already there?s no reason to waste a good grave, so she smacks Jonesy in the head with his
own shovel and topples him right on in.
Proceeding with Arnie?s remains to the mausoleum Hester chortles with greedy glee to her cat Pussy about
how it all belongs to her now. Even as she?s preparing to tuck Arnold?s urn into its niche she wonders aloud where all of
his hidden fortune might be stashed. Suddenly it dawns on her that a greedy old fuck like Arnold really would be the type
to want to take it with him, and climbing up onto the slab Hester pries about until she finds a hidden catch. This opens the
back of the vault to reveal a huge pile of pound notes, gold coins, money bags, and other bullion. As she happily digs into
the ?boodle? Hester fails to notice the crypt door silently swinging shut behind her, and is caught completely off guard when
Arnie?s voice comes echoing through the small chamber. ?I know I couldn?t be here unless you had disposed of me against my
wishes. And you wouldn?t be here unless you had placed me here,? the ominous voice tells her. Another inner door slides down,
further sealing Hester into the tomb with Arnold?s cremains as she begs and pleads with her dead brother. ?There?s really
no need for tears or recrimination,? she?s told, ?We both have what we most want. You have that horde of money at your fingertips,
and I have you with me here for all eternity.? In claustrophobic panic Hester smashes Arnold?s urn against the crypt wall,
her desperate wailing going unheard beyond the walls of the mausoleum.
This is another of those flicks whose commercials which gave my five-year-old ass the willies when it came
out in 1973. Arnold really looked like an EC book come to life, what with all of the fucked up murders and the ending of being
buried alive and shit. And I mistook the goggle-eyed portrait for shots of Arnold himself, and a corpse lying there rolling
its eyes just seemed, well, freaky to a little kid. And while much of Arnold may be pure cheese, that EC horror comic quality
actually does carry over quite well. For a couple of reasons Arnold reminded me of the Dr. Phibes films (aside from Jocelyn?s
scorched death-mask of a face): you know, deranged genius striking back from beyond the grave at those who wronged him, the
fiendishly elaborate traps set to ensure the demise of his victims. And the camp humor/bad joke factor for sure. Arnold?s
not nearly as cool as the Phibes films however. The only other thing it really needed was a ridiculously fancy organ, playing
itself as if operated by a spirit from beyond . . . Arnie?s corpse is no Vincent Price however, and his operation lacks the
ornate trappings and the whole mad scientist aura Phibes had going. And where Anton Phibes may have been practically Satanic,
his hunger for vengeance stemmed from the wrongful death of his beloved wife Victoria; Arnold on the other hand is just a
smarmy old rich cunt determined to take it with him and fuck over all of his survivors, like some kind of god-damned zombie
blueblood. Still, coffin stero death threats, bizarre deaths by toxic face cream, side-splitting suit (and the little rolling-on-the-ground
dance of death that goes with it), and garbage truck, wacky dialogue, Stella Stevens in her lingerie, and a hilariously bad
theme song (?Arnold! Arnold!?); all this needed was a little T&A and a few song & dance numbers. That?s entertainment!
* * *
Directed by Charles Band
B-movie maker Chuck Band sinks lower here than Demi Moore did over twenty years ago when she appeared in
his 3-D slimefest Parasite. An abysmal facsimile of the already abysmal Puppet Master series (not to mention something of
a ripoff of Tod Browning?s 1936 picture The Devil Doll), Blood Dolls is another fleeting entry to the ?Why did they bother??
circular file. Which is all right, because it won?t take up much space here, either.
Eccentric billionaire genius Virgil Travis (Jack Maturin) is facing a billion dollar anti-trust suit, and
he ain?t happy. Not only is he eccentric in a wannabe cult movie way (keeping a bad girl band locked in an electrified cage
to perform for his amusement, and having assistants like a big guy in clown make-up (Mr. Mascaro) and a one-eyed dwarf (Hilas)),
but he?s also eccentric in that he?s got a tiny little baby head on his man-sized shoulders. And he ain?t entirely happy about
that, either. A tad on the homicidal side Travis is more than a little inclined to murder, and folks he doesn?t kill outright
he ?compresses? into the titular blood dolls. (?It?s strange, but they look very familiar,? says a visiting attorney, just
before he?s messily drilled to death for his incompetence.)
These little stereotype caricatures (an ?honorable negro? judge turned into a pasty pimp, an asian attorney
compressed into a 4-armed geisha/ninja, and some other legal shark made into a tattooed punk) are sent out to dispose of Travis?
enemies in various silly ways, never failing to make various silly noises as they dispatch those responsible for threatening
his empire. Travis? foes are gradually whittled down, and to save herself the dominatrix wife, Moira De Rais (Debra Mayer),
of one of ?em schemes up a way to put Travis at her mercy. A little teasing, a little blackmail, and pretty soon she?s angling
for a marriage of diabolic intellects, intending to use their combined fortunes to build an evil empire while completely dominating
and destroying her new husband. Travis hasn?t had a piece of ass in, like, forever, so he seems all for it, but at the altar
he reveals that because Moira didn?t turn out to be the sweet and gentle lady he initially took her for he?s just going to
kill everybody in the house instead. Everybody except the band dies in a sloppy poison-gas/fire incident, the chicks take
off with the dolls, the end.
But wait, Blood Dolls doesn?t let you go just yet. Now they pull out the filler gimmick of the alternate
ending. In this one Moira is overcome with emotion at the sight of Travis? little baby head, and realizing that he isn?t just
another normal despicable man but a singular monster just like her she truly falls in love with him. Travis decides not to
kill her, they get married and live happily ever after, the end. Really, this time.
It?s a real wonder as to what the hell the filmmakers were thinking when they came up with the various aspects
of Blood Dolls. ?What can we do to make Travis? character more eccentric?? ?We could give him, like, some weird creepy assistants!
Like, a dwarf! And a big scary guy!? ?Hey, let?s give the big scary guy clown make-up! That?ll make him extra scary!? ?Yeah!
And Travis can have, like, a cage full of chicks in his mansion, because he?s an eccentric billionaire! And not just chicks,
they can be, like, a band!? ?Yeah! And one of ?em can flash her tits once, just to, um, show us her tits!? ?Yeah!? ?What about
those blood doll things?? ?Fuck ?em! That?s the effects guys? job!? ?Yeah!? And fuck ?em they did, as the dolls are pretty
laughable little things to begin with, but are made even more so by the amateur and none-too-scary animation used to make
them move. At times it really looks like the puppet master is just out of frame and moving the little things along with his
hand. I still don?t get the girl-band-in-a-cage thing; the chicks just lie around bitching until prodded by Hilas into performing
a number in their 10-song repertoire (like their slush hit ?Kill, Pussy, Kill?). They coulda at least been topless at all
times, hey? Or maybe a even lesbian wrestling band (?Yeah!?). The murders are generally pretty poor, as is the character acting,
and not only has the concept of the killer toys already been done countless times but it hasn?t been remotely frightening
in any of them (well, all right, the possessed clown doll in the first Poltergeist kinda freaked me out a little . . . hey,
I was a fuckin? kid!). So it baffles the hell outta me why they bothered to put this puppy together, but it is another of
those odd low-level flicks I?m damn glad I caught by accident on cable rather than going out of my way to see the fucker.
BULLY / TEENAGE CAVEMAN
Directed by Larry Clark
Man, I almost can?t believe this guy?s still allowed to buy film. Though Kids and Another Day in Paradise
were fine films (despite Another Day?s remarkable resemblance to Drugstore Cowboy), in each one Clark appeared almost as eager
to portray teenage sexuality as he was to tell a story. (Less so with Another Day, granted, but casting waifs like Natasha
Gregson Wagner and Vincent Kartheiser and having them both strip down fits right in with the theme we?ve got going here.).
With Bully and Teenage Caveman Clark goes even further, edging in as much implied underage action as possible until, up against
the bare-bones plots of the films, teen sex scenes are more staple than incidental.
Ostensibly based upon a true story (Bully: A True Story of High School Revenge by Jim Schultze), Bully is
the tale of a group of Florida teens who brutally murder the alpha asshole of their white trash clique. Finally tiring of
being slapped around and sexually abused, a gang of friends (Brad Renfro, Bijou Phillips, Rachel Miner, Michael Pitt, Kelli
Garner, Daniel Franzese, Leo Fitzpatrick) take their good buddy Bobby (Nick Stahl) out to the edge of the everglades and butcher
the guy, leaving him there for the crabs and the gators. Of course it doesn?t take long for the big mouths on the brats to
get them caught, earning them sentences which range from years-to-life in prison to a death sentence for Bobby?s ?best friend?
Marty (Renfro, also one of Bully?s associate producers).
And upon that base premise Clark builds a feature-length excuse to indulge his fetish for adolescent sex.
The youths are universally portrayed as ignorant, hedonistic, foul-mouthed, and dope-addled but good-looking little shits
who are interested only in getting high and screwing. And it is upon the latter activity that Clark focuses most heavily.
You can practically keep a scorecard going as, interspersed with over half-a-dozen sex scenes, there are numerous frames of
young tits & bush and crotch shots so tight you can see razor stubble. Clark commonly utilizes actresses whose small breasts
accentuate their youth, and the girls in Bully are no exception. The camera lovingly focuses on the legion of topless boys
as well, and in all cases the steamy Florida climate ensures that the young actors will often be polished with a layer of
Now ordinarily that list of skin shots above would be a pretty enticing advertisement for a film. But here
all of the sex and nudity is strangely unerotic. Partially because the characters are all so repulsively stupid, but primarily
because of the intense concentration upon their young age. There?s something disconcertingly voyeuristic about the way the
camera lingers on the young bodies that?s completely separate from any aspect of storytelling. And the frequency with which
scenes of nudity or sexual content appear is truly surprising; sheerly for the hell of it Clark tosses in a video of two teenage
boys having sex, and another of a youth using dildoes on himself. Making the film even more personal a document, Clark even
adds a cameo for himself, as a homeowner whose place is always crowded with shirtless little kids drinking beer.
On a slightly different note, Clark very capably portrays a generation of youngsters completely lacking
any sense of morality, decency, or responsibility. The actors excel at producing truly worthless characters, small islands
of vacuous self-satisfaction who fill every aspect of their narrow lives and personalities with shallow self-interest. Vacillating
between desperate bored and desperately ?adult? acts of criminal or indecent natures, and leading completely aimless and valueless
lives as they do, the characters? kindergarten conspiracy to commit murder is no real surprise. Nor is the fact they get themselves
caught. And there?s also a fair amount of realism to the shock and insecurity the members of the group feel after the act,
as before their personlities were virtually indistinguishable now they each seem to deal with the event in a separate fashion.
In addition, the understated homoerotic nature of Bobby and Marty?s relationship is a harshly accurate one as well, with Marty
very clearly the more dominant partner?s bitch, and Bobby being the manipulative and abusive boyfriend who still professes
to need his buddy as his ?best friend? whenever he senses Marty might leave him.
Still, those strong points aside, this is a very simple story told in a very sleazy way. Unless you?ve got
a serious hankering to watch young skin, I?m sure that the book is more intriguing than the movie. But even if you do watch
it ?for the children,? you?d better hope you find immature trash-talking dialogue a turn-on.
Teenage Caveman is a little different in that it plays out partially as a science fiction film (being one
of Cinemax? custom-made ?Creature Features?), but the tone and focus are very much the same as those of Bully. (Although of
Teenage Caveman Clark says, ?The film is really about innocence, and the loss of innocence.? And about wanting to produce
a realistic scenerio and, ? . . . make these ki . . . (here he catches himself) these people real.? Clark also takes seriously
producer Lou Arkoff?s comparison stating that asking Larry Clark to direct a Creature Feature is like asking Picasso to paint
the royal family, making much of being a ?final cut? director and saying, ?My film is more Cassavettes than Corman.? Make
of that what you will.) Anyway:
It?s a post-apocalyptic world, and the surviving humans have largely been reduced to a primitive cave-dwelling
hunter/gatherer status. After stabbing a crucifix through the eye of the pedophilic clan/cult leader, a band of six teenage
cavepeople, Andrew (David Keegan), Sarah (Tara Subkoff), Vincent (Stephen Jasso), Elizabeth (Crystal Grant), Joshua (Shan
Elliot), and Heather (Hayley Keenan), run away from their tribe and into the wilderness. After much hiking and griping they
come upon the ancient ruins of Seattle, outside of which they are promptly overwhelmed by a blizzard.
The youths awaken hours later, in a change of clothes, in a fancy apartment. Suddenly some fruity dick with
a topknot comes busting in, dancing around and singing along to ?Where Eagles Dare? (although ?Children in Heat? might have
been more appropriate . . .). Neil (Richard Hillman) and his lady Judith (Tiffany Limos) have weathered the end of the world
in style, and have rather luxuriously installed themselves in a grotesquely modern household in the center of some biotech
research complex. The teenage cavefolk are amazed by everything they?re seeing, their hosts are overjoyed to have guests,
and so happy is everybody to have new friends that the first thing they do is strip naked and take a long hot tub together.
And not too long afterward get wasted and have awkward sex during an extended booze, coke, and pill party. All but central
cave couple David and Sarah that is, who aside from being a little shy and virginal are already starting to resent their hosts?
pushy manipulation as just a slightly different form of the domineering authority they?d left back in the caves.
The next morning Elizabeth, who?d had it slipped to her by Neil the night before, has something a little
more severe than a simple hangover. After going into convulsions the girl literally explodes, her quivering organs delighting
Neil and disappointing Judith, who?d been masturbating to Elizabeth?s death throes and hadn?t quite finished yet when she
popped. By way of explanation, earlier we?d learned that Neil & Judith were the subjects of genetic experimentation some 100
years before, being genetically enhanced to survive hardships like the end of the world. And now, see, they?re trying to pass
on their genetics through sex so that they?ll have some playmates for the next hundred years. But the ?genetic virus? of their
inhuman condition proves fatal to most humans, making love a dicey proposition for any of their partners. And since Neil has
fallen out of grace with Judith over the years, not getting any for a couple decades has made him a little edgy and he?s more
than willing to try and spawn a few more eternal fuckers. So, one by one the cave children are killed off, either by exploding
sex mutation or Neil?s sexually frustrated homicidal urges.
Eventually even David is tricked into fucking Judith and catching the condition, but being a stout lad he
survives ?the change.? Sara however still wants nothing to do with the Russian roulette sex game, and as the sole holdout
she?s subjected to a number of rape attempts. Ultimately Neil and David fight it out for her, both undergoing numerous retrogressive
mutations, and when Neil gets blown up David finally gets to fuck Sarah. She doesn?t survive the change, so Davey dresses
up in some kinda sissy-ass glam outfit and goes back to the caves. ?I?m takin? the kids,? he says, and does. And, leading
them back to the complex, you know just what he?s got in mind.
One way in which Clark fails to make these kids, I mean people, real is by having the primitive pseudo-barbarians
not only immediately adapt to indoor living but pick up right away on formerly alien notions such as refrigerators, automobiles,
firearms, and booze & dope. And Neil & Judith are a remarkably immature couple for a pair of people over 100 years old. But
what the hell, it?s another feature-length excuse to show young people taking drugs and fucking. Lots of sex, dope, and gore
ought to make this a gratuitously appealing picture, but as with Bully the effect is somewhat tainted. While in each case
a story is told, it is the way in which it is told that?s more telling than the actual tale. (There is one good joke during
the picture: ?A Catholic priest and a rabbi are standing outside a church when a twelve-year-old boy walks by. The priest
says, ?Let?s take that kid inside and fuck him.? The rabbi says, ?Out of what???)
I don?t mean to be getting overly prude and moralistic (an? shit) here, but there?s just something . . .
weird about all of this. Slender young girls are beautiful indeed, but hey, kids are kids. Except in Clark?s films, where
they?re exotic but vaguely repulsive little animals valued for their pelts and little else. Even though all of the actors
who strip down seem to be of legal age, the intense and repeated concentration upon the young ages of their characters seems
to take the projects out of the realm of cinema and into the darker theater of personal fantasy. In an interview corresponding
with the release of Another Day in Paradise James Woods is quoted as saying that he found Clark?s obsession with teenage sexuality
?creepy.? I?d have to agree.
BUMFIGHTS: A Cause for Concern
Directed by Ray Laticia and Ty Beeson
Something of a cross between Brawlin? Broads and the Uncle Goddamn videos, Bumfights steps even further
down the ladder towards bottom-of-the-barrel exploitation & degradation. Which, in and of itself, shouldn?t be an entirely
bad thing, at least from the viewer?s perspective, right?
The point of the project here seems to be catching derelicts at their worst and making the most of it: finding
the way down and far out and encouraging them to fight over nothing, get high and puke, piss & shit in the street, and generally
prove that the only way they could sink any lower is by continuing to do so for the amusement of some smart-ass college kids.
Some featured players who are spoken with and encouraged to interact include ?Rufus, The Stunt Bum,? Bling Bling the crack
fiend, Donnie the Vet, T-Bone the crack dealer, some unnamed parking garage dweller who?s tattooed head-to-foot, cock included,
and a number of other sorry specimens all captured in their natural habitats (like the fat guy and his equally fat girlfriend,
each displaying a formidable plumber?s crack, knocking each other around in some public toilet and eventually facing off with
a pair of garbage cans).
Interspersed throughout these semi-documentary clips of urban wildlife are an awful lot of useless Fight
Club-type scenes of trash kids smacking each other around in front of an audience of other brats. But it?s the bums the filmmakers
enjoy capturing the most. Sometimes literally: the ?Bumhunter? segments feature Todd Richard Lewis mimicking the Croc Hunter
right down to the khaki shorts and heavily accented running commentary as he surprises sleeping winos in the wild and spooks
the bejesus out of them before taping them up and marking them for future reference.
What takes Bumfights far and away from the genre of documentary, or even mockumentary, is the filmmakers?
active and over-eager participation at every opportunity. They set a bum?s hair on fire then piss in his 40, urge wasted hobos
to fuck each other up while they hoot at the results, spraypaint unconscious bums with their logo, assist the Bumhunter in
his captures, and generally encourage countless acts of self-destructive stupidity. Bums aren?t even the only targets of their
attentions, as the crew takes to the water to hurl dead ducks at passing boaters, and commits various other acts of vandalism.
(There is a single admirable scene wherein one of the gang scales a billboard to change its lettering to read not ?I Love
the Slots? but ?I Love the Sluts.?)
This well-publicized and controversial ?reality? video really looks to me like the trust fund brainchild
of a group of rich kids who?ve managed to turn a buck making party/prank videos. (Throughout the video the filmmakers are
shown to have numerous vehicles, inluding a van and a motorboat, multiple cameras, and cash enough to jaunt off and have their
logo tattooed on their wino mascots. Not to mention their film school educations (cited in articles about the tape), fancy
video editing suites, and Website . . .) I?m no weepy liberal, but this shit is pretty despicable; many will hate it for
the exploitation of the indigent by the privileged (of course many more will love it for the very same reason), but the thing
that put me off the most about Bumfights is the decidedly frat boy quality of the filmmakers? attitudes as they urge their
subjects to get ever more wasted and reckless for the video crew?s amusement. Bums out on an independent GG Allin rampage
is pretty funny; bums told to fuck shit up for the amusement of stoned college boys is just pathetic. (The Bumfighter bits
are pretty hilarious in concept, but come on, two or three guys bushwhacking a sleeping wino; there?s no real sport there.)
It?s all right along the same mindset of the snotty upper-middle-class kids who?d break into an empty house to trash it while
filming their hilarious gag, or videotape themselves taking part in paintball drive-bys. You know, the sort of pranks engaged
in by the spoiled and immature that generally only come to light after they?ve been busted.
At any rate, the last I heard was that after selling thousands of the videos (thanks in great part to being
boosted on The Howard Stern Show) the filmmakers were up on charges related to paying people to fight. Whether they?re in
jail for going against the Vegas grain of sponsoring brawling without giving the proper city representatives their cut, or
for conspiring to assault by paying to have bums beaten up, the proud boasts of the promised Bumfights Volumes II and III
are probably rather uncertain at this point. Not to worry though, with the ever-increasing popularity of this kind of fare
multi-volume gang rapes of the retarded can?t be far off.
$19.95 + postage from bumfights.com (barring it being pulled from the market by court order)
<DIV align="left">CARNY TALK � And Other Amusing Anecdotes by Robert Williams
As Told to Larry Wessel
A series of seven stories and related footnotes from noted artist Robert Williams? early roughneck days.
In ?A Violent Encounter? a group of street fighters go to increasingly desperate efforts to rid themselves of an unbalanced
shaved ape, or ?kook.? The title piece has a young Williams dropping out of school to join the carnival concession, and encountering
the full spectrum of the subculture in the form of carnies, freaks, criminals, daredevils, and dope fiends. The theme of the
story is the carnies? buzzing form of pig latin, a sort of underground code created by placing a ?z? after each consonant.
(Not only does this provide a look into an earlier America?s underworld, but it also dispells the current notion that some
rapper invented the idea.) ?The Great Fecal Matter?: how to make a three-pound turd, and what to do with it. ?Motorcycles
and Hot Rods? tells tales of suicidally inventive automotive engineering, ?The Blow Job? goes back to the carnival for free
oral favors from the fat lady, and a rather nasty surprise, and in ?Sunshine and Health? the nudist magazine of the same name
brings to mind recollections of lesbian debauchery and quadriplegics who?d pay to suck kids off. And then there?s the ?cripple
fight? that turns into an even weirder spectacle . . . ?End of story!?
It?s hard to fault a guy as accomplished as Williams, but man can this guy ramble. A number of the stories
end with, ? . . . and that?s the end of the story,? or on a similar note, indicating the non-punchline nature of the material.
Not that the anecdotes are billed as jokes, but as tall tales they often build to a non-existent peak (for example, ?A Violent
Encounter? isn?t, really). Still, as a collection of observations on lowlifes and shady characters, pranks, ?abstract thought,?
gunplay, broads, close calls, coppers, boozing, and just plain weird shit, there is some mildly fascinating material to be
had here. As the presentation is one almost exclusively of the talking head variety, with the camera focusing on Williams?
face and only occasionally straying away to one of his paintings, and the title segments to each story are a bit long (accompanied
by circus music by John Shourt), Carny Talk may play better as a sideshow (running during a poker game, for example) than
a feature. But it?s one that ought to be caught nonetheless.
$25.00 from Larry Wessel
P.O. Box 1611, Manhattan Beach, CA, 90267-1611
DAUGHTERS OF SATAN
Directed by Hollingsworth Morse
Right from the spooky title font Daughters of Satan leaps straight into the occult exploitation action:
straightaway some sweaty topless chick is suspended above a pit of spikes and whipped by some rabid broad commanding her to
repeat the names of the nine Princes of Darkness. The assembled cult of peasants looks on in brain-dead approval, and elsewhere
Tom Selleck (as James Robertson) is tooling around the Phillipines in his sporty red convertible in the eternal pursuit of
art. Seriously; as a museum buyer he?s been invited to the Treasures of the Orient shop to examine an archaic tapestry. While
it turns out to be junk, a particular 17th century painting does catch his eye. It depicts three witches and their familiar,
a great black dog, being burned at the stake, with the central figure eerily resembling Jim?s wife Chris (Barra Grant). Although
Chris takes an instant dislike to the thing when he brings it home (?Why would you bring a psycho thing like that home??),
she somehow knows intuitively that the painting shows a group called the Duarte Coven being executed for heresy in 1592.
And then begin the satanic shenanigans: unexplained gusts of wind, hallucinations, and the sudden appearance
of a tempermental rottweiler named Nicodemus along with the equally sudden appearance of an tempermental housekeeper named
Juana Rios (both of whom resemble figures in the painting). Jim gets bushwhacked by banditos in his own backyard; visits a
funeral home at 666 Calle Revoluccion where the owner delights in photographing dead topless women and Jim finds his own coffin
is being prepared; discovers the owner of Treasures of the Orient murdered and is chased through the streets by the killers;
and is forced to wear an awful collection of Izod shirts. Chris has her own problems, as with a little help from Juana Rios
she?s become increasingly batty. When she nearly kills her husband with a pot of magic smoke, Jim seeks the help of her psychiatrist
Dr. Dangal. Dangal convinces Jim that a supernatural conspiracy has been raised against the couple, by the Duarte Coven no
less, but is little more help than that as he?s quickly killed off by the witches.
One of Dangal?s patients, a wealthy neurotic widow named Kitty (Tani Phelps Guthrie), latches onto Jim,
and during one bout of topless teasing she shows him a painting of her own. It also portrays the burning of the Duarte Coven,
but in this one Jim appears as well, as the inquisitor who condemned the witches. Kitty tells Jim that the inquisitor was
an ancestor of his named Roberson, and that for his actions the Duarte Coven cursed his entire bloodline. And Kitty ought
to know, as it is she who is the third figure in the painting and the leader of the modern-day ?Satanites,? as she calls them.
Soon she?s got Chris half-nekkid and strung up for a whipping for failing to kill her husband, and after a breast-heaving
recital of Lucifer?s Prayer Chris is made to vow that she will finish the job.
With the help of a couple of doped martinis Jim passes right out, and the witches prepare one of those Batman/Bond-style
set-ups to finish him off (you know, the kind of uselessly elaborate machinations that just can?t fail to kill the hero, but
the villains never manage to stick around to watch so there?s plenty of opportunity for escape). And then . . . all of a sudden
Chris is at some bar getting mind-fucked by Kitty and Juana. With the ring of the bar?s bell the witches suddenly seem to
change personalities, and before they jet off to Hong Kong to go shopping together they dump Chris at home. Where she?s reunited
with her very-much-still-alive husband. The Robertsons plan to leave the country and go traveling, and as even Nicodemus is
as friendly as a puppy now all seems well with the world. Until (cough . . . SPOILER! . . . cough) Chris suddenly pulls out
the ornate prop dagger that?s been floating through the entire picture and stabs Jim right in the back! The End!
Now that was an odd bit of nothin? . . . nothin? but an excuse to show off some topless Satanites getting
tortured, that is! Those two scenes of occult fetishism aside however, and of course a couple of laffs, there ain?t a whole
lot to recommend Daughters of Satan. The plot is really stretched pretty thin, the logic and progression of the picture is
often bewildering, and the few action scenes seem to be tossed in almost haphazardly. What this flick really needed was a
couple of cheesy monsters . . . like a diabolic Monster from Piedras Blancas, or some Mummies of Guanajuato or something.
At any rate, this one?s a curiosity for sure, and if nothing else bound to fit in with collections of other satanic/supernatural
scare flicks. And softcore S&M libraries.