Hellraiser (1987)

hellrai

A man who’s made a deal with the devil gets buyer’s remorse and escapes from hell. Now he’s depending on his ex-lover to bring him human snacks to regain his strength and skip town before his demonic tormentors find out he’s gone.

This is another movie that’s supposed to be a classic. Everyone knows this movie. It’s the one with the guy in the black dress with nails hammered into his face. Yea, that guy’s scary! SPOILER: he only has like 5 minutes of screen time. So that’s a bummer because the scrubs who fill the voids between pinhead appearances aren’t nearly as cool.

The movie begins with a man who solves a mystical Rubik’s cube he bought in China Town. Except instead of earning the awe and respect of his peers, he gets ripped apart by fish hooks in sadomasochist hell. Somehow the guy escapes the “cenobites” – the demons who poke and prod him in the underworld – and holds up beneath the floor boards in the attic of his flop house. Also he’s no longer a person, but a withered tomato husk. More on that later.

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For future reference. 

The guy’s half brother and his wife move in to the house, where they find the dead guy’s flesh light in the attic. “Ew, gross!” says the half brother. “Ooh la la,” thinks his wife, as she conjures up memories of the secret affair she had with her brother in law. To say this guy has been cuckolded would be quite the understatement. Not only does his wife have the hots for his his brother, but she bangs every barfly in town while not giving her actual husband so much as an Eskimo kiss. Because his life isn’t quite sad enough he also has to endure constant passes being made at both his wife and daughter by just about everyone, including the moving crew and his own dinner guests.

dead
also…he dies

So this guy lets the moving men drink his beer after working up a thirst hitting on his wife and daughter. Then they need his help moving a fucking mattress up the stairs because in addition to being assholes they are also the worst moving men in the world. While pushing it through a doorway the guy shreds his hand on a loose nail. The blood splish splashes through the floorboards onto his his brother-in-hiding begin. Bitching stop motion effects capture his unholy transformation from beef jerky to man:

According to horror movie logic, a few drops of blood can turn a dusty cobweb into a fully functioning muscular skeletal system, but it requires eviscerating two additional whole humans just to add taste buds thereafter. Eventually he’s all set except for the dermis, which his half brother unhappily provides. Now he’s ready to hit the town!

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Mothers, lock up your daughters

Well, not quite. Remember that niece of his? Well she solved the puzzle box too! But she’s got a bargaining chip to save her from a play date in the stock yards of hell: him. Apparently Cerberus was taking a nap the day he escaped because the cenobites were none the wiser to his absence. Understandably sheepish, the demons agree to keep her north of Hades provided she leads them to her uncle.

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Of course you can trust us!

There is a horror movie theorem that states that the haunt in a house isn’t leaving unless it takes the house with them. Seriously, how many movies involve a house being blown to shit when whatever source that pervades it is expelled? Hellraiser fits squarely into this category. Rafters are inexplicably crashing down, the walls are blowing up, and everything is catching on fire. And amidst the confusion the niece figures out she can zap these horny creeps back to their sex dungeons by fiddling around with the puzzle box and pointing it at them. Good thing all these explosions are distracting us, otherwise that might not make a whole lot of sense!

Overall:

malort
I
t will tear your soul apart!

Malort is the stuff of legend, and it tastes like putrid death. And yes, you can count me among those who imbibe from time to time. Truly, the lines between pleasure and pain are never as blurred as in a bottle of Malort.

 

Screamtime (1983)

screamtime cover

About

This movie starts out in NYC where two hooligans steal some movies from a video store and head to their busty friend’s house who, lucky for us, is just stepping out of the shower.  They take over her tv, drink her beer, and pick at her Thanksgiving turkey leftovers.  We watch the stolen films with these guys, as each movie becomes a chapter in an anthology.

Review

This is an English movie although the back story takes place in NYC.  As one of the hooligans so poignantly deduces, “I can tells by da way dat dey tawk.”

The first segment involves a Punch & Judy puppeteer (yes, this is an actual thing) who is neglecting his familial duties because of his obsession with his, er, craft.  This wife threatens to leave him and go to Canada (whoa, badass here!) and gives him the choice of joining her or staying behind for his puppets.  Meanwhile his douchey stepson, channeling his inner Sid Vicious, doesn’t have any quarrels with leaving his mom’s hubby behind, and lets him know it by torching his puppet stand and publicly shaming him in front of his child adorers.

One after another all the folks who’ve been giving the man so much shit start getting killed by his Mr. Punch puppet, who whacks them with a little stick all while shouting gibberish in a high-pitched kazoo voice.

Pretty scary stuff.

I think the intent of the director here is to have the viewer wonder if maybe this Mr. Punch puppet has a mind of its own.  However, since it is so obvious that it does not and that it’s – you guessed it! – actually the old man doing the killing, I have no qualms with giving away spoilers here.  It’s pretty ridiculous that this old and feeble-looking man is able to get the jump on everyone and then whack them to death with what looks like a foot-long ruler.  In fact, he offs three people this way before someone finally disarms with ease and tosses him off a building into a trash compactor.  Piece of cake.

The second segment is by far the best and probably should have been the whole movie.  Newlyweds move into a fixer-upper and the wife begins seeing apparitions of a gruesome murder throughout the house.  Her husband can’t see them, and begins to suspect that maybe he’s made a terrible mistake.  That’s about all I can say because I don’t want to give anything else away.  The ending provides a whoa-crazy-crazy twist.  If this was the only segment this would be a really good, albeit short, movie.  Unfortunately it is merely the meat that is sandwiched between two slices of turd bread.

The third and final segment is the most bizarre.  I kind of feel like the director thought the first two would make up a full-length film, but came up short and added this to beef it up with an extra 20 minutes.  A dirt bike racer with the world’s shittiest bike borrows money from his boss at his day job at the local fashionable menswear boutique to enter some big race.  In order to pay back the loan he is forced to work weekends tending the lawn of an elderly lesbian couple who believe their garden is enchanted by gnomes, sprites, and ghosties.  Nevermind that they’re paying him more than enough to cover the loan, he finds it necessary to rally his poser bike gang to rob the ladies of their riches.  Seems like it should be an easy enough heist to pull off, until they get attacked by blinking lights and an oompah loompah.

The fourth ‘segment’ of course is the back story tying all these together.  Again, you get the feeling that this was pushed in as part of a last second re-write.  The ending is supposed to be the most powerful part of any movie; there’s no way this is the director’s first choice for a climax, right?  It’s too hilariously dumb not to include here, so, spoiler alert coming up.  First, the turkey-eating hooligan is all of a sudden strangled by a random arm that pops out of the tv screen – they actually give that part away in the trailer.  Then the second hooligan, who snuck off for some hanky panky with the lady friend sometime between the second and third segments, becomes yet another helpless and willing victim of the Mr. Punch puppet and his ruler of death when it pops out from underneath the covers.

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“I knew that wasn’t just your leg down there!”

Overall: 4

Screamtime was kind of a fun movie to watch; I usually like these anthology movies because you get a good variety of short and sweet scares.  Unfortunately, aside from the middle segment, the stories in this movie were beyond stupid.  I just can’t believe that you put a bunch of guys in a room with the task of coming up with 3 really creepy short segments, and 2 of them end up being killer puppets and fairies.