Thirty Hertz Rumble

A bl-g about movies, music and nostalgia by James David Patrick

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the wicker man 1973

The Wicker Man: 31 Days of Horror

#27. The Wicker Man (1973)

the wicker man 1973 posterNature of Shame:
No Shame. Just a worthy revisit and a bizarro #Bond_age_ live tweet.

Hoop-tober Challenge Checklist:
Decade: 1970’s

The first time I saw The Wicker Man, I was left broken, beguiled and bewildered. The second time I saw The Wicker Man, I finally saw the film for the first time. The third time, this time, I marveled at the people who dared make such a bold slice of cinema that was destined for misunderstanding.

 

The Story

Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) arrives on the small Scottish island of Summerisle to investigate the report of a missing child. A conservative Christian, the policeman observes the residents’ frivolous sexual displays and strange pagan rituals, particularly the temptations of Willow (Britt Ekland), daughter of the island magistrate, Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee). The more Sergeant Howie learns about the islanders’ strange practices, the closer he gets to tracking down the missing child.

the wicker man 1973

I stuck to the rote, prescribed version of the narrative description so I can move on with other thoughts about The Wicker Man. I find it freeing — the not wasting energy retelling the plot in movie reviews. Conservation of brain cells. Plus, it takes less time than conjuring “cute” new ways to describe a movie you’ve likely already seen.

If you haven’t seen The Wicker man… first a word of warning. Do not strangle The Wicker Man while watching it. The Wicker Man requires patience and the ability to step back from the active experience of moviewatching. Active moviewatchers can be demanding and ill-tempered. Sometimes the most profound experiences happen when we’re allowing the movie to play out on its own terms. During my first viewing, expectation clouded the experience.

Robin Hardy’s film assaults you on an entirely different level than face-value terror. To experience The Wicker Man as an unsettling, truly frightening piece of cinema, concessions are required. One must not only accept that Sergeant Howie’s Western ideology is fallible — but also that Summerisle’s pagan beliefs are just as logical.

the wicker man 1973

Doing this requires the censure of our innate skepticism toward cult teachings and pagan religion. It’s not Hardy’s film supports a world devoid of God; it creates a parallel between the blindness of Christianity and the devotion of a cult that believes ritual sacrifice will bring back a failing orange crop. It calls everything into question.

Still I wouldn’t go as far as to say that The Wicker Man supports a strict doctrine of existentialism. It calls into question the beliefs that distract us from considering truths. When the credits roll, the emptiness — if we choose to embrace it — leaves us totally and emotionally bankrupt. In part because movies generally don’t dare end on such a note and in part because what we’ve just witnessed has raised questions about the way all of us live our lives.

And that stays with you, writing beneath you skin in a way a jump scare or a fleeting moment of terror couldn’t even imagine.

the wicker man 1973

Final The Wicker Man Thoughts:

Even if you don’t care for The Wicker Man upon a first viewing, let it sit, let it simmer. Come back to it with a clear mind and fresh eyes in a couple of years. And then let it wash over you without expectation, like a great jazz composition, with attention but without concern for strict narrative logic. The Wicker Man might just be one of the greatest horror films ever made — if you allow it access.

 

30Hz Movie Rating:

 

Availability:  

the wicker man blu-ray

 

 

The Wicker Man is available wherever fine pagan cinema is sold.

Buy The Wicker Man on Amazon.

 

 

2017 @CinemaShame / Hooptober Shame Statement
31+ Days of Horror. 33 Horror Movies. 33 Reviews.

#1. Caltiki The Immortal Monster (1959) / #2. The Devil Doll (1936) / #3. The Velvet Vampire (1971) / #4. Mill of the Stone Women (1960) / #5. The Initiation (1984) / #6. Poltergeist (1982) / #7. Night of the Lepus (1972) / #8. The Black Cat (1934) / #9. The Raven (1935) / #10. Friday the 13th (1980) / #11. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) / #12. Body Snatcher (1945) / #13. Dismembered (1962) / #14. From Hell It Came (1957) / #15. Symptoms (1974) / #16. Eating Raoul (1982) / #17. Spellcaster (1988) / #18. The Old Dark House (1932) / #19. House (1985) / #20. House II: The Second Story / #21. Christine (1983) / #22. Suspiria (1977) / #23. The Invisible Man (1933) / #24. Spider aka Zirneklis (1991) / #25. The Wife Killer (1976) / #26. Cannibal! The Musical (1993) / #27. The Wicker Man (1973) / #28. Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) / #29. Night Creatures (1962) / #30. Nosferatu (1922) / #31. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare / #32. Day of the Dead (1985) / #33. Psycho II (1983) / #34. The Green Butchers (2003)

cannibal the musical

Cannibal! The Musical: 31 Days of Horror

#26. Cannibal! The Musical (1993)

cannibal the musicalNature of Shame:
Unwatched Cannibal! Musical

Hoop-tober Challenge Checklist:
Decade: 1990’s
Cannibal Challenge

I’ve seen every episode of South Park. No, really. Every one. The first episode aired during my freshman year at college. Every week we’d gather much of the hall (and some other halls) and watch the magical filth spewed by children in South Park in my dorm room. We had a 32″ TV and mood Christmas lighting so naturally we were the viewing environment of choice. We also watched Dawson’s Creek religiously, which also dropped the same semester. Good lord did we watch the trials and tribulations of Dawson and Joey and Pacey.

Don’t judge. You weren’t there. You don’t know the power of Dawson’s Creek. We needed our stories. But I digress.

Why I’d never bothered to pop on this cannibal musical written and directed by Trey Parker, one of the creators of South Park, I’ll never quite understand. Maybe it’s because my experience with Troma has been hit or miss or miss. Maybe I just assumed that pre-South Park Trey Parker was just some warm up to something better. Still, though, I owed it to myself to check out a nonexistent-budget musical about cannibals from the mind of Trey Parker.

cannibal the musical

The Story

This should sum things up nicely:
.

No? Well, how about this?
.

So maybe that didn’t clarify anything. Wait. Are you looking at my eye?
.

Final Cannibal! The Musical Thoughts:

More hokey than gory, Cannibal! The Musical boasts a number of truly inspired gags at the expense of the Oregon Trail-era of westward expansion. Some of Cannibal! The Musical is half-baked, which is attributable to it’s $5 budget, but the cast and crew embrace the budget in creative ways that never cripple its aspirations. It’s unfortunate when you’re humming a tune called “Shpadoinkle” in public but that’s the price you pay.

 

30Hz Movie Rating:

 

Availability:  

cannibal! the musical

 

Buy, stream, own, devour Cannibal! The Musical. It’s worth the indigestion and bloat.

 

Buy Cannibal! The Musical on Amazon.

 

 

 

2017 @CinemaShame / Hooptober Shame Statement
31+ Days of Horror. 33 Horror Movies. 33 Reviews.

#1. Caltiki The Immortal Monster (1959) / #2. The Devil Doll (1936) / #3. The Velvet Vampire (1971) / #4. Mill of the Stone Women (1960) / #5. The Initiation (1984) / #6. Poltergeist (1982) / #7. Night of the Lepus (1972) / #8. The Black Cat (1934) / #9. The Raven (1935) / #10. Friday the 13th (1980) / #11. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) / #12. Body Snatcher (1945) / #13. Dismembered (1962) / #14. From Hell It Came (1957) / #15. Symptoms (1974) / #16. Eating Raoul (1982) / #17. Spellcaster (1988) / #18. The Old Dark House (1932) / #19. House (1985) / #20. House II: The Second Story / #21. Christine (1983) / #22. Suspiria (1977) / #23. The Invisible Man (1933) / #24. Spider aka Zirneklis (1991) / #25. The Wife Killer (1976) / #26. Cannibal! The Musical (1993) / #27. The Wicker Man (1973) / #28. Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) / #29. Night Creatures (1962) / #30. Nosferatu (1922) / #31. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare / #32. Day of the Dead (1985) / #33. Psycho II (1983) / #34. The Green Butchers (2003)

the wife killer 1976

The Wife Killer: 31 Days of Horror

#25. The Wife Killer (1976)

the wife killer posterNature of Shame:
Unwatched Mondo Macabro DVD

Hoop-tober Challenge Checklist:
Decade: 1970’s
Country of origin: Greece

I’ve never seen a Greek horror movie. Come to think of it, the most Greek movie I’ve probably ever seen was My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I’ve had this movie on my shelf for a few years so what better time to toss it in and taste a Greek-style giallo. Maybe with some baklava because baklava makes everything better.

The Story

Because I’m still dropping #31DaysofHorror reviews in the middle of November, I’m going to start taking a few liberties with these “reviews.” Like copying plot synopses from the DVD distributors:

Penniless playboy Captain Jim is in hock to his rich older wife, Helen. She has even bought him the fancy yacht that now bears his name. But Jim does not want to be Helen’s toy boy any more. He wants to marry his lover, Laura. He pays a psychopathic killer of women to murder Helen so that he will inherit his wife’s millions. But the psycho killer has his own plans. Suspecting Jim will double cross him, he engineers a complex scheme that will give him the upper hand. Very much in the style of the violent and baroque “Giallo” thrillers from 1970s Italy, The Wife Killer is a twisted, shocking and brutal exploration of the devious male psyche. Previously only released to cinemas in a cut version, this is the first official DVD release of the film in the U.S., complete and uncensored.

Here’s the thing about “giallo” type thrillers: they can go a few different ways. The film must decide how it’s going to go about its business. The Bava and Argento school preaches hyper-stylization and the importance of visual setpieces over narrative. The alternative methodology leans on the Poliziotteschi (Italian police procedural) for its backbone and merely borrows giallo tropes.

the wife killer 1976

What we have here with Kostas Karagiannis’ The Wife Killer (aka The Rape Killer, aka Death Kiss) is a film firmly rooted in the furthest reaches of the Poliziotteschi side of the spectrum. While the murders are frequent, the dry presentation offers no visual spectacle to alleviate the viewer from the difficult on-screen brutality.

So the murder’s favorite weapon? A knife, right? Every good giallo killer uses a knife. Maybe a hatchet? No? Okay, so he strangles them. Wait. He slaps them silly? You’re putting me on. 

No, good sirs and madams, I am not. The Wife Killer’s favorite method of attack is the open-faced palm slap. And repeat. One slap murder is okay. Two is comical. Three is a crowd. I’ve never seen so much slapping in a movie this side of Airplane!

Despite the slaps and tangled machinations, I found The Wife Killer to be an incredibly slow film without much payoff. That said, I’m not a huge deep-cut Poliziotteschi fan and I prefer my gialli in the hands of Bava or Argento or their hyperstylized disciples. But if a twisty and brutal Poliziotteschi film dressed in deranged marital disharmony sounds like your cup of tea, I encourage you to seek this one out.

Final The Wife Killer Thoughts:

 

The film’s alternate and seemingly more common title — The Rape Killer — suggests a kind of base depravity that’s just not present. The Wife Killer makes more sense because the film largely just concerns a violent, depraved misogynist. Occasionally uncomfortable, always 1970’s-brand grimy and gritty, but mostly forgettable. If you’re not familiar with Poliziotteschi or gialli films, seek something better. If you’re an expert devouring whatever world cinema has to offer, by all means sample this Greek slice of Italy’s genre cinema.

 

30Hz Movie Rating:

 

Availability:  

the wife killer dvd

The Wife Killer is available wherever you find depraved world cinema.

 

Buy The Wife Killer on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

2017 @CinemaShame / Hooptober Shame Statement
31+ Days of Horror. 33 Horror Movies. 33 Reviews.

#1. Caltiki The Immortal Monster (1959) / #2. The Devil Doll (1936) / #3. The Velvet Vampire (1971) / #4. Mill of the Stone Women (1960) / #5. The Initiation (1984) / #6. Poltergeist (1982) / #7. Night of the Lepus (1972) / #8. The Black Cat (1934) / #9. The Raven (1935) / #10. Friday the 13th (1980) / #11. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) / #12. Body Snatcher (1945) / #13. Dismembered (1962) / #14. From Hell It Came (1957) / #15. Symptoms (1974) / #16. Eating Raoul (1982) / #17. Spellcaster (1988) / #18. The Old Dark House (1932) / #19. House (1985) / #20. House II: The Second Story / #21. Christine (1983) / #22. Suspiria (1977) / #23. The Invisible Man (1933) / #24. Spider aka Zirneklis (1991) / #25. The Wife Killer (1976) / #26. Cannibal! The Musical (1993) / #27. The Wicker Man (1973) / #28. Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) / #29. Night Creatures (1962) / #30. Nosferatu (1922) / #31. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare / #32. Day of the Dead (1985) / #33. Psycho II (1983) / #34. The Green Butchers (2003)

spider mondo macabro blu-ray

Spider (aka Zirneklis): 31 Days of Horror

#24. Spider aka Zirneklis (1991)

 

spider 1991Nature of Shame:
Unwatched Mondo Macabro Blu

Hoop-tober Challenge Checklist:
Decade: 1990’s
Country of origin: Latvia

I blindly support every Mondo Macabro release. I don’t love all of them, but this niche label has been consistently releasing some of the most unique and interesting films from around the globe. They’ve largely specialized in what one might call Euro-trash, but that belittles the aspirations of films in their catalog like Symptoms, Alucarda and the psycho-sexual Latvian thriller Spider. That said, there’s also plenty of Jess Franco.

spider mondo macabro blu-ray

The Story

A young and inexperienced teenager, Vita, ventures to the studio of Albert, a shady and potentially unhinged artist, to sit for a portrait of the Virgin Mary. She’s been coerced into this position by her Catholic school priest who wants to champion the great artist, but fails to acknowledge his face-value corruptive potential. If a guy looks like a lunatic and talks like a lunatic…

She arrives at the studio where nude models pose for a variety of lascivious religious-themed tableaus, apparently in perpetuity. He’s an important artist. He can’t be rushed.

spider aka zirneklis

When Vita expresses some hesitation about exposing her sexuality to this unsettling stranger, he confronts her and states that she will never escape him until his work has been completed. Then her visions begin and the film takes a greasy thumb and blurs the line between exploitation and art.

One particularly unsettling sequence has her being assaulted by a massive, revolting oozing arachnid — I hesitate to use the term “raped” because that paints the scene with coarsely broad strokes. As the film serves as a metaphor for female sexual awakening — the monstrous, looming specter of male penetration — this scene in particular represents Vita’s confrontation with fear, confusion and latent desire.

As Vita’s libido increases so do the frequency and severity of the visions. As she continues her path of sexual discovery she must confront the “evil forces” tied to her burgeoning womanhood and exorcise the hold the artist has over her.

Final Spider Thoughts:

This unsettling meditation on teenage sexual awakening requires a little patience until the metaphor clicks into place and the film takes decided steps to embrace the poetry beyond the exploitation.

The church’s supporting role in this film as the enabler of corruption and the source of Vita’s shame provides essential context to her journey from innocence. It’s this component in particular that delivers Vasili Mass’ Spider (his only directorial credit) from assignation into the realm of exploitation. What we have instead is a rough gem that ventures deeply (and often disturbingly) into the realm of Freudian pyscho-sexuality.

 

30Hz Movie Rating:

 

Availability:  

spider blu-ray

This little Latvian thriller arrives courtesy of the good people at Mondo Macabro who do yeomen’s work keeping us stocked with wonderful and quirky slices of the world’s wildest cinema.

Buy Mondo Macabro’s Spider (aka Zirneklis) Blu-ray on Amazon.

 

 

 

2017 @CinemaShame / Hooptober Shame Statement
31+ Days of Horror. 33 Horror Movies. 33 Reviews.

#1. Caltiki The Immortal Monster (1959) / #2. The Devil Doll (1936) / #3. The Velvet Vampire (1971) / #4. Mill of the Stone Women (1960) / #5. The Initiation (1984) / #6. Poltergeist (1982) / #7. Night of the Lepus (1972) / #8. The Black Cat (1934) / #9. The Raven (1935) / #10. Friday the 13th (1980) / #11. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) / #12. Body Snatcher (1945) / #13. Dismembered (1962) / #14. From Hell It Came (1957) / #15. Symptoms (1974) / #16. Eating Raoul (1982) / #17. Spellcaster (1988) / #18. The Old Dark House (1932) / #19. House (1985) / #20. House II: The Second Story / #21. Christine (1983) / #22. Suspiria (1977) / #23. The Invisible Man (1933) / #24. Spider aka Zirneklis (1991) / #25. The Wife Killer (1976) / #26. Cannibal! The Musical (1993) / #27. The Wicker Man (1973) / #28. Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) / #29. Night Creatures (1962) / #30. Nosferatu (1922) / #31. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare / #32. Day of the Dead (1985) / #33. Psycho II (1983) / #34. The Green Butchers (2003)

the invisible man 1933

The Invisible Man: 31 Days of Horror

#23. The Invisible Man (1933)

invisible man poster

Nature of Shame:
No shame. Just revisiting.

Hoop-tober Challenge Checklist:
Decade: 1930’s
Before 1970
James Whale

Some of my earliest moviewatching memories concern classic Universal Horror films. And if I had to pinpoint just one that propelled my interest onward, it would be James Whale’s The Invisible Man.

I’m quite sure I missed the finer points of Whale’s treatment of the material. All I knew was that Claude Rains’ invisible man did a lot of naughty things and laughed himself silly all the while. For an eight-year-old boy, that was plenty to warrant true love and adoration.

 

the invisible man

The Story

Chemist Dr. Jack Griffin has created an invisibility serum. The only trouble? He can’t find a way to reverse it and one of the components of the drug causes him to descend rapidly into madness. MADNESS, I SAY!

The MADNESS! makes The Invisible Man stand out as a singular work in pre-code horror. The film’s tone, frantic pacing and the lack of the overtly monstrous, places it at odds against all of the other Universal Horror films of the period.

As Griffin slides into mania, his actions grow increasingly more violent. He begins by nudging chapeaus and tossing bicycles at townspeople but winds up as a mass murderer. The movie plans reparations, but not before we get to revel in a nihilist anti-hero making mischief.

the invisible man 1933

The film differs from H.G. Wells’ novel in that when we meet Griffin he’s always well on his way to insanity and far more ruthless. Wells allows his business associates to survive; Whale gives his Griffin revenge carte blanche. Having read the book in close proximity to watching the film, Whale and his screenwriter R.C. Sherriff made the novel perfectly and efficiently cinematic.

 

Despite Rains’ Griffin embarking on a series of despicable acts against innocent bystanders, The Invisible Man plays almost like a British black comedy — tongue in cheek and blazingly cynical. Consider that every time Griffin embarks on a crime spree, he strips naked and runs around totally unencumbered. Pre-code creativity of the highest order made possible by the film’s groundbreaking special effects.

invisible man gif

Final The Invisible Man Thoughts:

There’s nothing quite like The Invisible Man in the Universal canon. Even the “Invisible” films that followed lack the same bite. They lacked the bold direction of James Whale and they lacked the distinctive voice of Claude Rains. Not that they’re bad films; they’re fleeting entertainment, forgettable. The original Invisible Man endures because everyone loves gleeful, untethered mischief.

 

30Hz Movie Rating:

 

Availability:  

the invisible man dvd set

Universal has yet to release the Complete Invisible Man Collection on Blu-ray. Until then, the DVD set will have to suffice. The print on this DVD could use some tender love and affection. Here’s to hoping we’ll see that Blu-ray sooner rather than later.

Buy the Invisible Man Collection on Amazon.

 

 

 

2017 @CinemaShame / Hooptober Shame Statement
31+ Days of Horror. 33 Horror Movies. 33 Reviews.

#1. Caltiki The Immortal Monster (1959) / #2. The Devil Doll (1936) / #3. The Velvet Vampire (1971) / #4. Mill of the Stone Women (1960) / #5. The Initiation (1984) / #6. Poltergeist (1982) / #7. Night of the Lepus (1972) / #8. The Black Cat (1934) / #9. The Raven (1935) / #10. Friday the 13th (1980) / #11. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) / #12. Body Snatcher (1945) / #13. Dismembered (1962) / #14. From Hell It Came (1957) / #15. Symptoms (1974) / #16. Eating Raoul (1982) / #17. Spellcaster (1988) / #18. The Old Dark House (1932) / #19. House (1985) / #20. House II: The Second Story / #21. Christine (1983) / #22. Suspiria (1977) / #23. The Invisible Man (1933) / #24. Spider aka Zirneklis (1991) / #25. The Wife Killer (1976) / #26. Cannibal! The Musical (1993) / #27. The Wicker Man (1973) / #28. Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) / #29. Night Creatures (1962) / #30. Nosferatu (1922) / #31. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare / #32. Day of the Dead (1985) / #33. Psycho II (1983) / #34. The Green Butchers (2003)

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