Hello to all those faithfully reading and hopefully enjoying this effort to make even the worst horror movie more watcha... aw, screw that - I'm not that good. If a movie makes you cringe because yet another batch of unlikable teens that are pushing 30 are inching toward their deaths, having a party no one does anywhere ever, a paranormal movie is boring you to tears with unending pans of empty rooms, or thanks to CGI technology when people finally bite it, their blood squirts everywhere except on the victim, the ground, the people next to them... you're in good company and this is the right place for you.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

 Movies You Watch Because Of Who's In Them 

From A Whisper To A Scream 
aka The Offspring (1987)

After the totally brutal (but extremely cool) viewing of Audition I wanted something a little - tamer. And I didn't have a lot of strength or attention span, so an anthology of short stories seemed perfect as a kind of break. AND this 
movie stars Vincent Price, so hey, it was a win all the way around. It is described as three stories of terror, but there are actually four, plus the cover story of Vincent telling each one to a reporter. And we have this:

Julian White (Vincent Price) is an old librarian who's niece Katherine is being executed for a series of murders starting from when she was seven until her mid 30's. A reporter who witnessed the execution decides to pay him a visit to 'learn' more about why someone would be so rotten at such a young age. He informs her it is the town itself, Oldfield Tennessee that is evil, people just get caught up in it - few escape. As proof he brings out a series of journals telling stories of actual residents and the bad ends they all came to:

1. Stanley Burnside: Stanley is a mild mannered middle-aged geek who's probably a virgin (he sleeps with his thick glasses strapped to his head for crying out loud). He has to work plus take care of his sister, who's rheumatic fever makes her require ice baths every day. He has violent night terrors where he is torturing and sexually molesting women. One woman at work he is very interested in but she could care less - Grace. Finally he can't stand it and calls her. After a bit of persuasion, she agrees to go out to dinner. After he drives her to a remote spot, intending on singing a song he wrote for her (this actually happened to me when I was a teenager so here's a tip - it's not romantic at all, just creepy). She cringes and tells him don't and to take her home. He tries to force himself on her but she resists and scratches his face. He then strangles her. Crying, he dumps her body on the street and goes home. After her funeral is announced, he breaks into the funeral home and 'consummates' their relationship (Continuity error: He pours two glasses of champagne and puts them on the edge of the coffin. He drinks his down, but the next scene shows both glasses on the coffin, full.). Ewww. Skip ahead nine months (these aren't really hard to figure out but oh well) and a lonely Stanley decides he's had it with his sister, and drowns/strangles her in the bath. He's downstairs drinking beer and actually having himself a good time when we skip out to the graveyard where Grace is. Something is digging its way up through the ground (cool, zombie action) and back at the house Stanley starts hearing things. Breaking glass, lots of goo everywhere, stuff is just a mess. His sister's body is then flung down the stairs. He, being movie-stupid goes upstairs to look (we hear growling that sounds like a bobcat or something) and he himself is pushed downstairs by a dead thing - his boy. It gurgles 'daddy' (pretty good for a newborn) and the screen goes black as we hear crunching and his screams.

The reporter isn't convinced. She thinks it's just fiction so Julian picks another volume and another story:

2. Jesse Hardwick: This happened 30 years ago. Jesse is a no-good jerk who'd rip off his own mother if she had something of value. Running from people he stole from he's shot and near death. He manages to get in a boat and float out into the swamp. We see somebody grab the boat and bring him to shore. When he wakes, he's in a shack with tons of clocks, all with different times, oddities like fetuses in jars, and an African American named Felder Evans. Felder tells him he almost died, but will now live. As he stays with the man, he notices that Felder is into voodoo, chanting every night, and distilling a liquid he drinks regularly. One day when Felder is out Jesse loots the place, looking for something valuable, and finds a book of 'memories'. He then finds out that Felder has to be at least 200 years old. He figures it's the liquid he's always making and wants it. He tells Felder he isn't leaving until he gets it. Reluctantly Felder tries to teach him but Jesse is too impatient. He knocks Felder out, ties rocks to his feet and takes him out to the swamp. He threatens to drown him if he doesn't get the liquid. Felder tries to tell him that he can't die, but Jesse rocks the boat too hard and Felder goes under. Later that night, Felder comes back, covered with mud and knocks out Jesse. When he wakes, he's tied down on the porch. Felder explains that he already HAD given Jesse the liquid, that's why he survived - he figures Jesse has at least another 70 years to live at least. He then chops all of Jesse's limbs off, and sets him on fire - leaving the mess in a bag on the street for people to find. In the hospital, the doctors can't figure it out - he's lost almost all his blood, all his limbs, burnt everything else off and yet not only is he alive, but getting stronger. They can only hope he dies soon. Of course, that's not going to be for a while...

The reporter scoffs that these were all just tales and fantasy. Julian is getting frustrated (and Vincent does look pretty tired in this movie) so we go on to:

3. Amarrillis Caufield: In 1933 the circus comes to town, complete with a freak show. Amarrillis is a pretty girl in love with a glass eater. She tries to see him as often as possible, but the circus owner, only described as 'Snakewoman' (A black woman with long dreds, that was kind of progressive.) reminds him that he'd be in jail if it wasn't for her. In fact, all of her freaks were normal, seeking asylum with her. She turned them into freaks as payment and as a way to hide from the law. Amarrillis doesn't care, she wants her love, Steven. During one tryst, Steven's hand begins to bleed as sharp things begin to stick out of his hand, he rushes back to the circus. Snakewoman tells him she made him able to eat glass, she can take it away. He doesn't listen and both he and Amarrillis run off together. But not far away enough. As punishment, Snakewoman takes his ability away, and every sharp thing he's ever eaten works its way out, basically splatting him all over the motel room they're holed up in. The next morning, Snakewoman comes and picks up Amarrillis, who is in total shock. She is now her new attraction - Pincushion Woman, one who can have anything stuck into her without pain. And there she stays.

The reporter asks how can a town itself be evil. Julian explains it was that way from the very start - or at least since the Civil War. And we get our final story:

4. Four Northern soldiers are separated from their unit. They come upon a Southern camp. The soldiers hold up white flags but they shoot them anyway. Searching their pockets, they find a newspaper stating that the war is over. They don't care, they want to keep killing, pillaging, etc. In fact when one who refused to shoot says he's going home, they have no problem shooting him in the back. They are travelling to a town called Oldfield and plan on taking what they can get. In a field they hear children giggling and grenades go off, knocking them out. When they come to, they are the prisoners of children, some deformed and injured from the War. And we start getting a Children Of The Corn theme going here. They keep talking about doing the will of The Magistrate, and have ceremonies that torture and kill all but one of the soldiers. The last one, thinking he can get away, tricks a little girl into untying him, snapping her neck as soon as she does. He's recaptured however and meets the 'Magistrate' - after the soldiers had leveled their town, no grown-ups were left, so the children found what 'pieces' of their parents they could and kind of pinned them together - and follow what it 'says'. The last soldier is then taken outside, burned and eaten. And the children plan to do that with every adult they find, but of course they must have grown up because the town became populated again.

So Julian tells the reporter that his niece was not really evil - she just 'joined the parade' of people trapped by this town. That's when the reporter reveals her true purpose. She had corresponded with the niece while in prison, and the niece had passed on her 'purpose' to her - she takes out a switchblade and stabs Vincent Price in the throat. With his last breath he gasps, "Welcome To Oldfield."

Pedestrian predictable and not that scary, and Vincent himself said later he hated this one, but hey, anything with him in it is always going to be good, even if he really doesn't participate in it much.