FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE...beware yon spoilers!

Nov 17, 2007

Amicus Week: Day 5

You know, I'm a huge procrastinator. Heeee-yoooge. I always have been- in school, I was always waiting until the night before a test to study or some such- and in every instance, I got more and more frantic as the night would wear on and I would swear swear swear that next time I'd get things done earlier. The most egregious example, I think, dates back to my college days. I had to write some big something something about The Joy Luck Club, and- I shit you not- at about 4:30pm the day before the something something was due, I said to myself "Fuck...I'd better start reading that book." Though I was pulling my hair out, I got the something something done on time and got an A...therefore, lesson NOT learned. I guess I work best under pressure, maybe.

Or I'm just an idiot.

You might think I'm telling you all this to bore you, but I assure you that's not the case! See, I was up until 5:30am meeting a deadline for a job, though I'd had at least a good month to do it. Then, around 8 this morning- again, I shit you not- a massive flock of wild parrots raised a ruckus in the sky above my street, waking me up...and I've been awake since. You might say I'm tired. I'm blaming my tired, soft, squishy brain for my distinctly blase attitude regarding The Vault of Horror (1973), an anthology film I probably would have enjoyed much more had I been not so...vegetative whilst watching it. I shall, however, muster the strength to write up a review...for you see, I live by a code of honor and dignity.

Vault of Horror has got a wraparound story that's so dull and uninspired, that honestly, it's virtually pointless. Five dudes get in the elevator of an office building, but they cannot control where the elevator goes! It stops in the subbasement and that's that. The men walk out into an area that looks like "a club"; since they're stuck there with nothing better to do, they decide to...gasp...sit and talk!



And so they tell each other about these dreams they've had that seem...that seem so real! These dreams go on when they close their eyes...every second of the night, they live another life. These dreams that sleep when it's cold outside; every moment they're awake, the further they're away! There's something out there...they can't resist!

Sorry, just channeling the Wilson Sisters a bit there. Anyway...

MIDNIGHT MESS

Rogers (Daniel Massey) goes searching for his sister Donna (played by his real-life sister, Anna Massey- spooooky!). He finds her in a weird town whose denizens are afraid to be on the streets at night, because "they come out in the dark". It's no joyful reunion for the sibs, however; Rogers informs Donna that he wants the family inheritance all to himself. You know what that means- let's say it all together: Rogers makes with the stab-stab.

Don't worry- he'll get his. After brutally killing his sister, Rogers heads to the only restaurant in town that stays open after the sun goes down. Things are a little kooky at said restaurant, but by the time Rogers is hip to the goings-on it's too late! Yes, too late does he discover that this is a restaurant catering to a town full of vampires! Vampires sporting the worst fake fangs and drinking the worst fake blood evarrrrr. I mean, awesomely bad.

That's Donna back there, decidedly NOT dead. Yup, Rogers's sis is a vampire, too, and she joins everyone else by feasting on the chef's special that evening, her brother. There's an infamous edit at the end of this segment, wherein a shot of and upside-down Rogers gasps while vampires drain his blood via a spigot crammed in his neck is darkened to the point of obscurity. It's too bad, really- it'd be a wonderfully ludicrous ending to a wonderfully ludicrous story.

THE NEAT JOB

Critchit (Terry-Thomas) marries Eleanor (Glynis Johns), the daughter of a friend. She's a good 20 years his junior, but they both seem okay with settling for a less-than-ideal marriage; he wants someone to take care of him, and she basically had no other prospects.

Things go swimmingly until Eleanor moves in. Critchit's bachelor life has made him rigidly set in his ways; he's gotten used to having everything just so, and when, say, Eleanor moves his magazine rack, it's just about the end of the world. Critchit's motto, after all, is "A place for everything and everything in its place".

One fine afternoon, Eleanor begins to frantically straighten up the house- Critchit will be home in fifteen minutes, and he's apt to go apoplectic if he sees his records out of the cabinet! The more harried Eleanor gets, though, the worse her situation becomes. She knocks things over, spills things, breaks things...and yeah, Critchit flips out when he sees the damage she's done. He begins repeatedly screaming at her "Can't you do anything neatly??", and then Eleanor flips out and proves to her husband that yes...yes she can, in fact, wield a hammer quite neatly. She also seems to have a knack for organizing body parts quite neatly- who knew?

Oh, and...worst fake eyes and teeth evarrrrr.

This was, I think, my favorite story of the bunch. I was, as they say, tickled. Unfortunately, I wasn't quite as enamored with the rest of the segments. Alas, alack.

THIS TRICK'LL KILL YOU

A husband-and-wife magician act visit India in the hopes of finding some spectacular new trick they can bring home for their act. They encounter a street performer who does the standard "put a person in a box, then run the box through with pointy things" and "put a pointy thing through your face" gags, claiming that he can use all those pointy things because the gods are protecting him.

The magician husband calls fraud and reveals how the tricks are done, right there in front of the audience. Not cool, magician husband...not cool at all. I mean, there's, like, a magician's oath and shit.

As he's still searching for that ultimate trick, the magician husband comes across a young lady doing that play the flute, the snake comes out of the basket trick. No, that's not a euphemism. Wait, snake charming, that's it! Except instead of a snake, it's a rope rising from the basket. Mr Big Shot Spoil Sport Magician Husband can't seem to debunk this trick, and he offers to buy the rope from the young woman. She explains that there is no trick- the rope is simply magic, and she won't part with it for any price as it's a family heirloom. This leaves Mr Big Shot Spoil Sport Magician Husband with only one alternative- no, not simply accepting this answer, ceasing to be a douchebag, and continuing his search for new tricks. He's practically forced into killing the girl and stealing the rope! Stupid family heirlooms.

He lures the girl to their hotel room, kills her, and tries the trick out for himself. The rope, however, ain't havin' none a dat and promptly kills wifey and hubby in a fun sequence replete with whip sounds. Take that, douchebag!



BARGAIN IN DEATH


Honestly, Bargain in Death was such a brief time waster, I don't much feel like wasting more time recounting it here. But you sure can be a demanding bunch, so I'll give it to you, all short-like.

2 dudes hatch an insurance scheme, in which one of them will fake his death by taking drugs that slow his heartbeat down so it's undetectable. 24 hours after he's buried, his partner will dig him up and they'll split the insurance money.

As can be expected, they double-cross each other and both end up dead. The only highlight for me occurred in a car crash sequence- I simply adore it when a car barely taps a tree or something and explodes. Really- it's one of my favorite things in cinema.

DRAWN AND QUARTERED

By far the longest segment at about 20 minutes, Drawn and Quartered concerns Moore, an artist (a wicked-bearded Tom "Dr Who" Baker) who's been financially dicked over by his agents and an art critic. It seems they were pulling a "buy low, sell high" deal with his paintings, and now Moore wants revenge.

Conveniently, Moore is currently painting on some island where all his revenge needs can be met: he simply has to go "buy some voodoo"!

Moore discovers that the voodoo spell has given him the power to create art that bears real-world results; for example, when he places a piece of bread on the floor and draws it- then erases a corner, a rat shows up and chomps the corner off the real-world bread. Nifty!

To enact his fiendish scheme, Moore paints portraits of his three enemies, then defaces or destroys the paintings in some way...bye bye, enemies! Unfortunately, Moore has also been working on a self-portrait...a self-portrait he can't guard all the time...

Drawn and Quartered has a great last five minutes, but a good portion of the rest of it is simply fat that could have been trimmed; there are countless lengthy sequences where we watch Moore paint or draw, and I swear, the fucking constant tribal bongo drum music just about drove me mad. Mad, I tells ya, enough that I was considering going out and buying some voodoo of my own.

Oh, yeah, so...that wraparound story. The dude are all dead and every night- for all eternity!- they must get together and tell these same stories to each other as punishment for the bad, bad things they did in life. Wakka-wakka, the end.

This is pretty much the end of Amicus Week as well...I've got some more titles coming from Netflix, but they won't be here for a few more days. Mayhaps I'll pick up and bring you Amicus Week 2: The... the... umm... the...

Dammit, I'm tired.

Oh, and if you're wondering about that Dramatic Chipmunk, blame it on Piper and his Lazy Eye Theatre. I don't think I particularly used it in some new and different way, but I'm not firing on all cylinders. And naming five bloggers to do the same? My brain is so gelatinous right now that I can't even count to five, let alone name five people. 1...2...842375...

See?

11 comments:

Rural Juror said...

I love the drama prarie dog.

These anthology films sure do love to have everyone die at the end.

I still can't get over how twisted The Brood was. I'm thoroughly upset they're remaking it. They better cast Eric Close a.k.a Art's doppleganger.

Perchingpath said...

Was the husband in the second segment sort of brown and ovoid?

The first screen-shot from the fifth segment is great too- some villages have witchdoctors, this one has a really sympathetic witchpsychotherapist.
Also, his younger brother has a white mark on his forehead that looks just a little like this: b

-Jonathan

Joanna said...

Those eyeballs look like they're made out of play-doh...

And I think I saw worse fangs in that "Vampire Girl" episode of "Bigfoot and Wildboy"...they looked like they were about to fly out of her mouth at any moment...

ARBOGAST said...

John Forbes-Robertson as the husband in "The Neat Job"? That's Terry-Thomas, you veg! Yeah, they both have hyphens in their names, but Terry-Thomas is a friggen God! Or rather was, because he died. But then so did God, according to the French.

The Mad Hatter said...

They would have been better off just to label those eyes as testicles. Those ladies with famgs look like kids playing with french fries.This movie seems to be a complete suck-fest.
I ordered the double feature any way just for Tales from the Crypt.

Stacie Ponder said...

Thanks arbo, I fixed the screw-up. Told you I was tired!

Rural, you're right- he DOES look like Eric Close! Wow. I loves me some Art Hindle. That remake is...well, I just don't see how it can compare to the original, but...it's not worth getting my panties in a twist over, I guess. I'll just watch the original if the new one blows- and even if it doesn't, I suppose.

perchingpath- now that you mention it, he did seem to change hats an awful lot... :D

mad hatter- I think I was too 'out of it' to really get into it...or maybe it DOES kinda suck. It wasn't as much fun as Tales from the Crypt, but I've seen much much worse. And 2 movies for the price of one isn't bad!

Joseph Emmerth said...

LOL!!! Thank you, Stacie, for the prairie dog clip, you have made my weekend:)

Peter Vincent said...

Stacie, you have more patience than I do...I would have removed the DVD and smashed it on my effigy of Jack Valenti. Oh, and by the way, since I am a high school English teacher, don't be so hard on yourself about the procrastination thing...I have come to the conclusion that this is the ONLY way tennagers can complete an assignment...that is, if they complete it at all...

Peter Vincent said...

Gee, I say I'm an English teacher, and I can't even spell TEENAGERS...DAMN it.

Piper said...

Stacie,

The Dramatic Chipmunk thanks you for including him on your blog. He would be writing this himself but he's currently walking the WGA Strike line and considers any kind of writing (even in the comment section of a blog) to be a violation of the strike and the WGA has said that if he violates it he will be held down and shaved.

ARBOGAST said...

The two guys who dig up the grave at the end of "Bargain in Death" were cast members on the show DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE and it was an in-joke to have them appear as grave robbers.

Stacie's review made me want to see this again. How sick is that?