Jul 23, 2019

DRACULA'S GREATEST HITS


In my continuing quest for Halloween playlist material, the process of which begins in July because I’m insane, I discovered this lovely, wonderfully stupid novelty record from 1964. Normally I’m not into the '50s/‘60s Halloween party music scene because it tends to dominate other Halloween playlists and it all sounds like The Monster Mash after a while. But man, this thing has won me over -- and entirely because of how dumb it is. The design is delightfully simple: what if Dracula was a singer and sang about being a vampire and other monsters?

That’s…pretty much it: a compilation of original monstrous creations and top radio hits containing hilariously altered vampire-centric lyrics, both complemented by a Dracula-voiced singer.

While the whole thing is ridiculous, the standouts from this thing are the two song parodies, "I Want to Bite Your Hand" and “Drac the Knife,” both of which the album art goes out of its way to clarify as being takes on "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and "Mack the Knife," just in case the concept of vampire parody party music is too complicated for you to keep up with.

The whole album is on Youtube (because of course it is—everything is on Youtube), but there are used copies on eBay if this is something you need in your vinyl collection. And if you ever wanted to hear Dracula bellow "COWABUNGAAAA!," you're in luck.

Full tracklist:
  1. I Want to Bite Your Hand
  2. Drac the Knife
  3. King Kong Stomp 
  4. Monster Hootenanny
  5. Ghoul Days
  6. Frankenstein
  7. The New Frankenstein & Johnny Song
  8. Monster Goose Rhymes
  9. Surf Monster
  10. Monster Bossa Nova
  11. Carry Me Back to Transylvania
  12. Little Black Bag
Image borrowed from Zombo's Closet.

Jul 22, 2019

BLU-RAY REVIEW: IN ‘WEIRD SCIENCE,’ THE DICKS GET TO WIN (ARROW VIDEO)


Say the name “John Huges” to a film fan and they’ll easily think of several things: the ‘80s, teens, and love. If ever a filmmaker had been the face of a movement, it’s Hughes, whose films easily embodied the growing pains of the middle-America teenager. And that’s what makes Weird Science a semi-outlier in his long and prolific career. Hughes’ most well-known films, The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles, were comedies at their hearts, but also contained enough emotion, substance, and relatability to register as more than just another 90-minute romp filled with teen hijinks and gentle kissing. Same goes for Pretty in Pink, which stops its general lightheartedness and allows for a genuinely melancholic monologue from Harry Dean Stanton about being an older and ineffective father.

Weird Science is base-level John Hughes. It covers all those same components, but in the most superficial way possible. It is, essentially, Hughes’ take on the teen sex comedy, which had become prominent by then, ushered in by National Lampoon’s Animal House before things like Porky’s and The Last American Virgin took over. Because of that, it’s probably not fair to judge Weird Science in the same way you would judge St. Elmo’s Fire, being that both flicks, despite similar genetic make-up, have different goals.

Which is what makes Weird Science kind of a blast, and very, very strange.


High school horndog outcasts Gary (Anthony Michael Hall) and Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) want to get laid. Of course they do; they’re boys in high school. So, since this slice of Shermer, Illinois, exists in a land before Tinder, the obvious next step is to create a girl (using Wyatt’s computer) that will satisfy their carnal urges and teach them all the different ways of being a sexual maestro. Hughes was right to have Frankenstein playing on a background television all during this creation sequence because this is obviously a riff on that Modern Prometheus. Soon, their creation shows up – a gorgeous British bird whom they name Lisa (Kelly LeBrock), and who will go on to wreak all kinds of ‘80s havoc.

A popular term these days is “problematic.” I’m sure you’ve heard it. It gets thrown around more and more when it comes to judging art from a different era with 2019 “woke” eyes. Bender looks up Claire’s skirt in The Breakfast Club…without asking. Problematic. One friend calls another a “total faggot,” along with the freakishly offensive Asian character of “Long Duk Dong” in Sixteen Candles. Problematic. In an op-ed for the New Yorker, Molly Ringwald opined about watching The Breakfast Club with her modern eyes and seeing things considered problematic today. “It’s hard for me to understand how John Hughes was able to write with so much sensitivity, and also have such a glaring blind spot,” she writes. It’s a good thing she didn’t appear in Weird Science, because it’s basically a poster board for all the ways a comedy could never be made today. First, and often overlooked, Gary and Wyatt, who are 16 and 15, respectively, inadvertently create their own personal pedophile by choosing to make Lisa 23. Naturally, that line of thinking didn’t exist back in the ‘80s—nor did the implication sink in that because Lisa was created, and it’s made clear she is fully under the boys’ control and must adhere to their every whim, they are basically off-screen raping her throughout the movie. 

Creepy sexual stuff aside, there’s also the scene where the trio goes to an after-hours blues club with a mixed-race clientele, where Gary gets so drunk that he begins mimicking the gravelly-voiced black man next to him, giving himself a “black” voice. (The movie comes to a dead halt during this sequence—not because of the “offensiveness,” but because it’s putting its full weight on one joke that never works, is generally obnoxious, and goes on for way too long.) I should note that I don’t personally find any of the above offensive because I’m an adult and I have the ability to recognize that art made during certain eras are going to reflect those eras—what was considered acceptable, what was part of the lexicon, and what, back then, was simply considered funny. Is the humor ideal? These days, no. Certain things once normal are now avoided. Should Weird Science ever get the remake treatment, genders will be swapped, unconsented sex will be avoided, and everyone will make sure everyone else is on the same page all the time (except for the bad guy). Sounds boring.


Weird Science is often very funny, fully coming alive during the third act where Gary and Wyatt throw a party that goes very out of control, allowing for cameos from members of the cast of The Road Warrior (Vernon Wells) and The Hills Have Eyes (Michael Berryman). The party sequence is when Weird Science gets the most outrageous, especially when contents of the house are sucked out the chimney and redistributed across the back yard once Gary and Wyatt attempt to create another Lisa-ish compu-girl for two bullies (Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Rusler) who spent the whole movie breaking their balls. It’s as if Hughes had spent years writing down every joke, sight gag, and concept he’d maybe want to use one day and decided that, during the third act of Weird Science where anything could happen, he would use it all. Frozen grandparents in the cupboard; an evil older brother, Chet (an amazing Bill Paxton), turning into some sort of monstrous cryptid; a bedroom where it snows all the time; a rocket ship fucking the inside of a house (symbolism!); motorcycle cannibals; and more. Hughes weaves them all together in a weird, excessive pastiche of chaos that helps usher Weird Science across the finish line, transcending from an odd but average comedy to ‘80s cult classic. (That the film is bookended by Oingo Boingo’s song of the same name helps a lot – what’s more ‘80s than Oingo Boingo?) (Don’t say cocaine.)

For a teen sex comedy, Weird Science contains no sex whatsoever--at least, not on screen. Despite some brief nudity (mostly in the form of the skin rags in Wyatt’s bedroom), Weird Science is visually chaste. The dialogue is certainly racy at times, but there’s not a single sex scene between any members of the cast, despite that being the reason for Lisa’s creation--and on top of that, there’s only one implied sex scene throughout the whole flick. If we follow the rule of “if I didn’t see it, it didn’t happen,” then Gary and Lisa never have sex at all. This would make sense in an ironic way if the flick had followed that concept for both boys—they created their own sex goddess, but never actually had sex with her—but instead, it seems Wyatt’s the only one who gets laid. It’s weird. Weird Science!


The more one thinks about Weird Science, the less sense it all makes, so maybe we shouldn’t, but come on: Gary and Wyatt are dicks. They do awful things, learn zero lessons, and still get the girls (Suzanne Snyder, my ‘80s crush I’m still sweet on, and Judie Aronson), who they both profess to love within 24 hours of interacting with them. And how do they “get” the girls? By shooing away some mutant bikers. Sure, saved lives can make a solid case for new infatuation, but this development follows on the tail end of them having agreed to create another Lisa for those earlier mentioned bullies in exchange for their girlfriends. Later, when Wyatt drops off Hilly at her house, and she tells him she’ll probably be grounded for a month, Wyatt says that he’ll wait for her…before grabbing her ass with both hands, and with his fingers crossed. What the fuck, what does that mean? He’s not going to wait for her? Did he learn nothing? God, fuck you, Wyatt! THAT’S JUDIE ARONSON. DON’T YOU DARE DISRESPECT HER—SHE WAS IN AMERICA NINJA.

And what about Lisa? How does a person begin coming to grips with the existential realization that she’s been created out of thin air solely to be used as a sex toy? And does that make it weird for her once the sex stuff falls by the wayside and she starts mommying the boys with a whole bunch of life lessons instead? How does she get that gym teacher job at the end if she doesn’t have a birth certificate or social security card? Does she have DNA? Can she procreate? Do she and the boys all stay friends? Would it be weird if they did, or weird if they didn’t? Perhaps Gary and Wyatt eventually marry their girlfriends and Lisa goes to their joint wedding, and when she does, the boys whisper to their new wives, “Honey, you remember Lisa: the fuck slave we created with Wyatt’s Macintosh.”

Weird Science!


Universal had previously issued all of Hughes’ films on Blu-ray, some of which Arrow Video is rereleasing to typically great results. Weird Science is presented in an all-new 4K transfer, and though it’s not the kind of flick that really benefits from such loving care, the picture is still very attractive. The audio presentation, too, is clean and clear, and its ‘80s soundtrack sounds full and very fun.

I’ll go ahead and be that cynical prick who wonders why Anthony Michael Hall or Kelly LeBrock didn’t provide a new interview for this release, being that it’s not like they’re super busy these days, and it’s a shame that Arrow couldn’t have assembled an updated retrospective on the film’s making. (The one previously produced by Universal is present, though it’s somewhat brief and already very outdated). Sadly, with Hughes and Bill Paxton no longer with us, and with Ilan Mitchell-Smith having left the industry, the lack of input from major players is understandable, but still, the new batch of supplements feels a little light. (Hughes was something of a hermit and would’ve likely declined involvement, anyway.)


The special features are as follows:
  • Edited-for-TV version of the film (SD only, 95 mins), plus comparison featurette highlighting the alternate dubs and takes
  • Option to watch additional scenes from the Extended Version separately
  • Newly-filmed interview with special makeup creator Craig Reardon
  • Newly-filmed interview with composer Ira Newborn
  • Newly-filmed interview with supporting actor John Kapelos
  • All-new interview with casting director Jackie Burch
  • It's Alive: Resurrecting Weird Science, an archive documentary featuring interviews with cast, crew and admirers, including star Anthony Michael Hall
  • Theatrical trailers and TV spots
  • Image gallery
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tracie Ching
  • FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collectors booklet featuring new writing on the film by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Amanda Reyes
It’s pretty simple: if you’re a fan of Weird Science, this new edition from Arrow is an easy recommendation. The PQ and AQ are definitely an improvement over Universal’s previous release, and it contains all the previously produced supplements (minus the pilot episode for the television series) along with some new ones. (And for you purists, the original poster art appears on the reverse side of the artwork insert.) Definitely grab yourself a copy before Woke Squad 2019 finds out this movie exists and seizes every copy for a ceremonial scrubbing from history. (Insert bawdy Chet laugh here.)

Weird Science is now on Blu-ray from Arrow Video.



Jul 19, 2019

CURRENT MOOD


DVD REVIEW: ‘SCARY STORIES’ DOC FANS THE FLAMES OF NOSTALGIA



As someone who has adored the horror genre ever since I was a kid, even weathering the storm when that adoration made me feel like an outcast, there was always something comforting about discovering that I’d traveled the same exact road, and made all the same stops, as other kids had during their formative years. It was a joy to grow older, meet people with the same interests, and realize that we had  shared experiences and interests before ever knowing each other.

The Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark trilogy was a huge part of that.

I wish I could remember under what circumstances I first came to read Alvin Schwartz’s three-book collection based on urban legends, folklore, and myths. There was never a shortage of books in my house when I was a kid, as my mother had discovered I was an avid reader, and she was willing to exploit my love for all things horror (within reason) so long as it kept me reading. It got to the point where she would have to lovingly but sternly remind me that those monthly Goosebump books by R.L. Stine were somewhat expensive, as she tended to bring home a few at a time, and maybe I should try to read only a few chapters a night to make them last. (She brought home Deep Trouble one day, and with a shark on the cover, I read that book in under two hours. Spoiler alert: it ain’t about sharks.) I’m tempted to believe that my mother had been the one to bring home one of those Scary Stories books (for whatever reason, Scary Stories 3 was the first one I read), but that she’d done so without actually cracking the book and seeing Stephen Gammell’s illustrations. One glimpse at “The Haunted House” or “Me-Tie Doughty Walker” and she never would have left the store with them.


If there ever existed a bible for the horror-loving youth, it was Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Incredibly, horror-loving kids discovered these books on their own, almost like a rite of passage. It felt like childhood destiny. The illustrations were tantamount to pornography—as if they’d slipped through the parental and school library systems on some kind of technicality and were never meant for kids’ eyes, but something glorious had gone wrong, and those lucky kids were going to get their fill. Gammell’s illustrations were often so surreal that sometimes they didn’t seem to complement their stories at all. One story in particular, “Oh Susanna,” was a retelling of the urban legend about the college student who comes home to her dorm at night and doesn’t turn on the light, only to discover the next morning that her roommate had been decapitated. The illustration that accompanies that story sees an old man in a rocking chair grasping a leash tied around a flying Lovecraftian monster and being pulled through the sky of a stormy limbo. How completely inappropriate this illustration is for that story somehow made both even scarier. Was it a happy accident? Was it a one-off illustration Gammell had done that had been arbitrarily assigned to that story? Or was Gammell depicting the instant madness that the story’s terrified girl was suffering upon the discovery of her dead roommate?

On the cusp of release for the first ever adaptation of the book series (produced by Guillermo Del Toro and directed by The Autopsy of Jane Doe’s André Øvredal) comes this low-fi, DIY documentary by Cody Meirick, which explores the history of the books, the controversies that ensued because of their graphic content, and their legacy today. Sadly, the doc lacks the two keyest players – author Alvin Schwartz died of cancer in 1992, and illustrator Stephen Gammell, still alive, is a bit of a recluse and doesn’t grant interviews. (Nerd brag: I wrote to him about ten years ago and sent him a copy of the Scary Stories hardcover treasury edition, which he returned with his signature.)


The doc speaks to Schwartz’s family – his wife, Barbara; son, Peter; and grandson, Daniel – some of which remains surface level, but some of which, notably the segments with the son, touch on unexpectedly deep material, including the strained relationship between himself and his father, and the regrets he still lives with following his death. Wisely, the doc makes use of seemingly the only interview Gammell ever gave, which is years old; resurrecting certain excerpts from that interview not only allows him a presence in the doc, but also puts the viewer directly within his frame of mind. (Despite how perfectly married his illustrations are to Schwartz’s stories, the doc heavily suggests that the two men never actually met.)

The doc somewhat struggles to have a “point,” with the backbone being the controversies the book series endured over the years, with one parent in particular (who appears in the doc via archive footage and a newly filmed interview) leading the charge to get them banned from elementary schools. The book-ban segments are smartly intermingled with interviews with artists who grew up reading the Scary Stories trilogy and who discuss in what ways they have informed their work, directly or indirectly. Doing so makes the case that, had these books been banned successfully, these artists might never have stumbled upon them, and hence, never become inspired to do their own creating. The doc also attempts to setup a sort-of squaring off between that parent who led the ban charge and Schwartz’s son as a knock-down/drag-out moment of drama, but in reality, they sit down and share their own differing thoughts on the book, neither of which have changed ever since the initial controversy, all while remaining ever polite toward each other.


Scary Stories also struggles to feel consistently engaging, even at a brisk 85 minutes, with too many scenes of interviewees, or in some really distracting moments, actors engaging in storytelling skits, reiterating some of the books’ most famous stories. Meirick uses these bits sometimes to help transition between points, and including actual text from the stories makes total sense, but a simple voiceover accompanied by Gammell’s original illustrations would’ve accomplished the same goal while removing the incidental corniness that results from watching two young kid actors pretend to be scared by a story about an exploding spider bite.

Still, Scary Story mostly works the way it was meant to: it’s a celebration of the black sheep books that permeated so many of our bookshelves in our youth, examining their long legacy and the mark they’ve made on so many impressionable minds. With the world becoming a bigger, warmer, and angrier pile of shit, the nostalgia machine is operating at an all-time high (the self-serving third season of Stranger Things proves this), and Scary Stories is all part of it. This exploration into the infamous books is likely as thorough as it could’ve been, assuming that Schwartz never spoke candidly about them after having written them—material from which the doc could have mined (as it did with Gammell’s sole interview). Because of this, the doc can sometimes feel like it lacks potency, at times feeling more like you’re sitting around having a lightheaded conversation with friends. It doesn’t ask any tough questions about the dangers of censorship, and it lacks the kind of drama that even documentaries have proven to include from time to time. Scary Stories is more interested in serving as a keepsake—a quasi pre-eulogy for books that, it would seem, will never go away, no matter how much certain parents may want them to.

The special features are as follows:
  • Director's Commentary
  • Over 20 minutes of bonus footage
  • Closed Captions
  • Scene Selection
  • Trailers   
Scary Stories is now on DVD from Wild Eye Releasing, and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark hits theaters in August.


Jul 16, 2019

THE DEAD LANDS (2016)


Watching The Dead Lands brings two thoughts to mind:

One - It's time to revoke James Cameron's membership to the Credibility Club. After his mind boggling endorsement of the bad Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and the worse Terminator Genisys, along with The Dead Lands, it's become clear the man has spent way too much time huffing unobtainium.

Two - It's refreshing to discover that even A Really Long Time Ago, B.C., when people wore leather strings up their asses and got their hair did like Milli Vanilli, youths still made derogatory comments about their enemies' mothers. It's nice to see we've barely progressed as a society except for the fact that we now wear full-on ass-covering pants.

Well, sort of. 

The biggest elephant in the room as it pertains to The Dead Lands is the existence of Mel Gibson's Apocalypto, which manages the impressive feat of not being that good while still being far better than The Dead Lands. Though Apocalypto takes place among an entirely different tribe on an entirely different continent, what that film presented, the same as what The Dead Lands presents, is a bad tribe being total dicks to a good tribe, and so a young man from the good tribe has to basically stand up for the good of his people, become a man, and kill people in violent ways. Along the way, half-naked tribesmen are mutilated, a couple jokes are made, and you revel at how long someone can run through the woods without breaking both ankles and getting eaten by an anaconda.


Somewhere within The Dead Lands resides a good idea, and that has entirely to do with the shaky "friendship" between Hongi and "The Warrior," a spitting image of the 1995 version of Mortal Kombat's Goro, but with the normal amount of arms. The idea of this man existing in the woods and reveling in the legendary stories exchanged about him and his so-called godlike powers and strength, only to meet him for real and see that he's a mostly human guy just kind of pissed off but really good at taking lives, makes for an interesting concept. The problem is not nearly enough is done with this, and the only real sense of characterization offered to him is that hey, he's just like us, in that his wife/girlfriend/cavemate is constantly breaking his balls.

It's honestly difficult to comment on the effectiveness of the performances, as 99.9995% of audiences watching it will have never before heard spoken Maori in their lives; it will essentially sound like gibberish - what you're watching is grown men wearing next to nothing doing fancy weapon spins, wagging their tongues, and "emoting" their dialogue in such a way that it sounds like everyone has been sipping way too heavily from the nectar of the gods. But at the same time, it's evident The Dead Lands was well intentioned, and likely a bitch to shoot. This isn't the type of film one makes over a series of weekends with friends. From learning uncommon languages, kneeling half-naked in pond water for hours on end, wearing thick layers of skin puddy, and sprinting through the woods in bare feet, it's clear that director Toa Fraser put a lot of effort into his film - not even James Cameron can say that anymore - but it's unfortunate that it didn't result in something just a little better, and with its own identity.

The visual presentation is the exact opposite of human shit smeared on a skull - it looks quite lovely. Extreme detail is captured in every shot, especially the intricate tribesman marks etched into nearly every face. The jungles of New Zealand are adeptly captured, with the opening smoke-filled chase sequence looking among one of the film's best. The image captures a lot of color from the entirely exterior-set story. 


If you’ve acquired a DVD or Blu-ray of this flick on a whim but decided at any point during play that the film just isn't doing anything for you, consider putting on the alternate English dubbing track. It's hysterical. From the flat, hollow, and tinny sounding audio recordings to the sneaking suspicion that one twenty-year-old voice-over actor was utilized to dub every character -- even trying on a "weathered old man" voice whenever speaking for an elder member of the tribe -- this track may provide a brief detour into a land of additionally amusing ineptitude.

Just because The Dead Lands utilizes a very unknown language, takes place somewhere between dinosaurs and Donald Trump's spawning, and throws around terms like "fate" and "the gods" and "honor," don't think you're going to be getting some kind of high-art masterpiece created to make film festival audiences tweet their tears. The Dead Lands is not that. Instead, it provides a somewhat pedestrian story with an intriguing/conflicting on-screen pair -- a half-naked-man buddy comedy with far less jokes -- and presents reasonable but wholly vapid entertainment. If you're really into tribe-on-tribe victimization and men shitting on skulls/licking shitty hands, then The Dead Lands is totally for you. If you're not, try watching Avatar again. Or something better.



Jul 13, 2019

GIRLHOUSE (2015)


 [As Girlhouse has spoiled my night, I have now spoiled Girlhouse. Read on with caution.]

Kylie Atkins' father has recently died, so it's porn for her.

After giving it some very little thought, she accepts the offer of a well-dressed stranger to appear on the porn-centric website "Girlhouse," a Big-Brother sort of set-up where a group of people live away from civilization in an isolated house with cameras in every room that broadcast their every move, only instead of "people" it's "girls," and instead of "every move" it's "every orgasm, fuck show, and methodical soaping of breasts." Once she's dropped off at the super-secret "Girlhouse" location, she meets all her costars, all of whom eventually take off their clothes, and none of whom are particularly memorable or developed.

As Kylie begins her show, she "meets" an online user by the name of Loverboy, whom all the girls know and call a sweetheart. Loverboy soon fixates on Kylie after he sends her a photo of himself and she doesn't throw herself out the window in response, but later on, after another "Girlhouse" performer finds Loverboy's picture and shows it to everyone and they all laugh and mock his not-so-ideal appearance, Loverboy loses his mind and decides there's only one fair way to handle this: murder. (He's also really good at computers, BTW.)


A film that manages to ape its concept from Halloween: Resurrection while somehow resulting in something worse, Girlhouse was written by Fred Olen Wray, directed by Jim Wynorski, and produced by Roger Cor-ohman, none of that is true. It wasn't a wrong assumption to make, however; add some corny self-awareness and even more exploitative nudity, and Girlhouse would have felt exactly like product from the 1980s -- more specifically, from the team who brought us Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers and Sorority House Massacre 2, only with a hip and modern shot of adrenaline (which means now it has internet, cell phones, and terms like "IP address" and "firewall"). An important distinction, though, is that when Corman et al. made those deliciously stupid B-movies, they weren't trying to impart any kind of wisdom or moral stature on their audience: they were more concerned with finding girls with ample breastage who could fit into all that old wardrobe recycled from their last several hundred movies that had "slime" or "massacre" in their titles. They weren't trying to be socially relevant or needlessly (and, inexplicably) preachy and indifferent all at once. They were just trying to make their films fun. And that's where Girlhouse really misses the boat. For actually managing to bring to fruition such an absurd concept as "house of slutty website performers become locked inside by one of its users who gets all pissed off because they called him ugly," only to try and turn it into some kind of disturbing or visceral experience -- well, that was the first misstep of many.

The reason it's neither disturbing nor visceral is because we just don't care.


At no point is there an attempt to devote background or development to any characters. Kylie's sole decision to become a pornographic actress is because "the money is good" and she wants to send some home to her mother. Because her motivation for her decision is to be considered selfless and done out of love and worry, we're supposed to forgive her for getting into porn, but it would have behooved our filmmakers to, perhaps, include a scene where Kylie and her mother actually share a conversation -- in person would have been nice, but over the phone would have been acceptable -- to enforce the significance of this relationship. At least once. As it is, their entire relationship is confined to them leaving voicemails for each other, and the word "MOM" appearing on Kylie's cell phone when it rings...which Kylie doesn't answer.

As for Kylie's pornsemble: two of the girls are (quite quickly) established as lesbians involved with each other, one of the girls as threatened by Kylie's appearance in the house, and another girl, who it would seem was once an actress in the house before her heroin addiction resulted in her getting the ax, makes a surprise return. Pity that NONE of these characters' subplots offer anything to the film rather than cheap thrills of girl-kissing and an additional body to hammer.

Kylie is an irritating character, a girl who willfully gets into pornography, but for whom we're expected to sympathize -- not because of any attempt at her inner conflict with the job, but because she tells anyone who will listen that her father is dead and that's really sad and then equal sign pornography. Not terribly likable, Ali Cobrin still manages to give an okay performance, but as you watch you'll suddenly realize her remarkably similar appearance to actress Rose Byrne, who tends to make good movies, and then you'll become irritated all over again because instead of watching a good movie that stars Rose Byrne, you're watching Girlhouse.


I feel intensely bad for rapper-turned-actor Slain, thanks to his appearance in this mess as Loverboy, and not just because he's the only one attempting to bring actual depth to his performance (which vanishes following the start of the third act, unless we're being asked to believe that it was the actor himself and not an underpaid body-padded stuntman who wore the jumpsuit and girl mask to stalk his house of whores), but rather because he got a pretty good head-start on a career 2.0 when Ben Affleck cast him as the revered Bubba Ragowski in Gone Baby Gone. Affleck subsequently cast him again in his box-office and bank-smashing crime thriller The Town before director Andrew Dominik chose him to play a minor role in his Brad Pitt-starring Killing Them Softly. And here, in... sigh... Girlhouse... Slaine is slumming it, with the kind of bravery needed to play a role of someone who dwells in a basement, subscribes to and depends on pornography, and who feels ostracized because of his physical appearance. The only problem is he's going through all that effort for the film Girlhouse. The actor deserves better.

Ironically, the makers of the film are selling Girlhouse as a "Halloween-type slasher," and by god are they testing the durability of the word "type," for the only thing these two films have in common is that someone wears a mask and kills some girls. Kylie is supposed to be Girlhouse's version of Laurie Strode, only instead of her character being virginal and pure by abstaining from acts and behavior that would force her to retire those traits, she instead embarks on her pornographic webshows where she willfully shows off her naked body to her viewers, but with the camera never showing her breasts: according to these filmmakers, that makes her virginal and pure. Added to Halloween are the nauseating references to Rear Window and its director, Hitchcock, who as you know reveled in cinema in which girls played strip-poker or strip-billiards and performed dildo shows on websites for users named "Tugboat" and "Cream_Slinger." Hitchcock would be sincerely proud. No, that's not sarcasm - not at all. I mean that, you idiots, he would love your dumb fucking movie.

Girlhouse is violent and filled with nudity, if you're into that sort of thing. I am, normally, but only when the actual movie surrounding the violence and nudity is worth a damn. Girlhouse isn't. Girlhouse is about as subtle as a truck carrying fireworks driving through a fireworks factory. It makes no bones about clearly endeavoring to satirize the "art" of pornography, but then doing absolutely nothing to either support or condemn it. Girlhouse offs a character by beating her in the head with a dildo before shoving it into her mouth and sealing her head with packaging tape so she suffocates. Girlhouse offs another character by having her commit suicide after her confrontation with the killer has left her mutilated because OMG, without pornography, she is, like, of no use to anyone. Girlhouse fucking ends with Kylie beating her killer to death with a camera. If that's not a failed idea at clever subtlety, ladies and gentleman, I don't know what is.