SOME FOLKS TAKE THEIR VOWS SERIOUSLY

Ralph has to get to Janet. She can’t be alone now. The dead are at war; he has to save his wife. The Blackhawk on his hip isn’t the ideal gun for the Apocalypse, but he’s skilled with it.

Ralph’s little, Toyota truck had seen as much use against the dead as his Blackhawk. It also had been in decidedly worse shape at the start of this particular judgment day. He thinks wistfully of bouncing around in it while he and Janet were courting.

Focus dammit! Lots of corpses shambling around towards the place. There’s a porch in front. It’s street level, and was a converted, covered walkway. Hubert’s place had been around for well over a century. Ralph floors the gas and aims for the open front doors.
The railing isn’t all that hard compared to the truck. Ralph whips the Toyota hard left to bring it forward parallel to the door. The supports were a lot thicker, and in better shape, than the railings. The first support crumples the driver’s side lights, and the second one the truck hits brings it to a hard stop. Ralph sees by the now crescent-shaped nose of the truck that it isn’t going anywhere again without a tow truck. His head hurts from the impact.

Barely room to squeeze out the passenger side door into the open, double, wooden doors of Hubert’s. Ralph fires a shot into the head of one of the dead underneath the truck. Nothing else moving that was closer than the driver’s side door. He really hoped they’d been dead before he ran them over.

There’s a brawl inside. He shoots two moldy-deads, frees up the guy on the floor. Miguel. Lindsey the pregnant girl. Ralph doesn’t care about the details. He has to save Janet. They lock the door, shove furniture in front of it. The dead truck will prevent the corpses from getting any leverage. Place is defensible, even without boarding. Narrow, high windows. Stained glass is a bitch to break through. Janet is supposed to be here; she’s supposed to be safe.

Ralph tosses the place. Miguel has been busy. Four old bodies in the back, three in the front. Janet isn’t here. Only place left unsearched is the prep area, and the other two won’t go back there. Door’s been rattling they say. They want to finish barricading it, claiming it won’t hold long. Hubert must not have locked the embalming room. That thing is a damn fortress.

Ralph keeps screaming that they have to get in there. Janet could be inside. The two block him. Things drag out just long enough.

The prep door busts open. Hubert comes through. Chewed all to hell, he pulls Lindsey down doing the same. Two others, Bill Johnson and the town bum, are close behind. It’s a messy bit of work. Miguel and Ralph avoid the teeth, and manage to kill the three intruders without injury.

Lindsey is in bad shape. The smell of her blood and piss overwhelms the rotten meat. Can’t tell how many bites, but half her face is bone. She’s making a wet, whimpery noise, and touching someone who ain’t there. Miguel shoots her between the eyes without a trace of emotion. The two men stand there, ears ringing from the gunfire. She’s in the doorway then. Red hair and milky, dead eyes.

“Janet!”

Miguel sees her, and swings over to line up his shot. Ralph’s is faster. Miguel was a nice guy, but he shouldn’t have tried that. Janet stares at her husband. She lumbers toward him, and he holsters his gun. He looks down, first date nervous, and realizes she’s barefoot. She wouldn’t have liked that, but the blue dress was her favorite. Ralph knows she is wearing the same camisole underneath that she wore on their wedding night. He’d picked it out for her funeral.

“I love you baby,” is all Ralph can say.

Then his arms are around her waist. She isn’t breathing, but she looks stronger than she has in months. Her hands are on his shoulders, and the lovebirds stare at each other for uncertain moments. Her tongue is dry and sandpapery on his neck. For a moment. Then the teeth find their mark and Ralph’s pain is finally worse than the hurting. He screams wetly as his wife rolls him to the ground. She mounts her husband, and her mouth keeps its bite. Her tongue isn’t dry anymore, not that he notices.

Janet sits up, ripping a large chunk of meat from his neck. It’s too big for her to chew daintily. Her hand strokes his temple. Janet stares vacantly into her husband’s eyes waiting for him.

Ralph hears her breathless, protective growl at someone coming near. He’s holding her hand when he passes.

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Review: Broken Dolls #amwatching

In honor of the late Lina Romay, I’m doing a personal film festival and review fest of her work with Jess Franco. Starting off with the four film collection, STRIPPED DEAD (SRS Cinema, 2010), and ending with her most infamous film, Female Vampire. Bear with me, I have a lot of deadlines this month.

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(Note: I’m not entirely sure if the movie was filmed in English, or dubbed into English.  I believe it was the former, but offer my apologies for any misdirected credit/blame if it was dubbed.)

Wow. Let’s start with the good points. Broken Doll’s premise sounded cool. Reclusive, forgotten star and his “family” of degenerates living in a luxurious villa on a small island. Throw in a lost treasure, serious questions about the star’s past, and you have some interesting possibilities.

Don Lapidus–who looks like a chubbier and balder Ron Jeremy–plays delusional star Don Martin with charismatic gusto.  He’s having a blast, and is the most entertaining part of the movie.  Cap’n Batshit enjoys the simple things in life: screwing kept women, spying on his naked daughter, and going into psychotic rants. As one does.  Note to self, write about a character named Cap’n Batshit. 

Lina Romay plays Cap’n Batshit’s  long tormented wife, and gives an outstanding performance.  As does Mavi Tienda playing their androgynous, incest-minded daughter Beatriz. The two play off each other wonderfully in their scenes together, and I’d have happily watched a drama  focused on those two.

How did a film with a good premise, interesting main characters, and strong performances from all three leads turn out so badly? As with most catastrophic failures, the answer starts at the beginning. The script is a mess.  There’s a revelation that the Don was probably an SS officer, but nothing happens with the plot this was seemingly meant to introduce, and the characters who have the knowledge  forget it within seconds. Maintaining their cover perhaps, but then nothing about their background makes much sense. It also happens far to late in the movie to generate much interest.

There are long shots of landscapes, that don’t add any tension or sense of mood. Unfortunately, this appears to be  a quirk with Franco’s most recent work. I’m guessing it’s low-budget time filler. I get that the supplies are boated in, but was it really necessary to have that many shots of cardboard boxes being unloaded? No, especially when none of the major characters are in any of the shots. The three secondary characters aren’t terribly interesting, but take up a lot of screen time.  Particularly annoying is the alleged handyman, and shirtless guitar player. He’s cute, but neither fits in nor contrasts well with any of the major characters. He’s like wallpaper. Then with roughly 15 minutes left, everything in the script scatters.

Broken Dolls  has the worst sound editing and looping of any DVD I’ve ever seen. Voice mismatches aren’t a feed error, they appear to have been horrendously added in post. Frequent lines that were never filmed, and at one point a chaste kiss sounds like a sloppy blowjob (not played for laughs). Background noises routinely appear and disappear throughout outdoor scenes.

It’s also not a well authored DVD. On a brand new one, with no scratches, I shouldn’t have problems with scenes pixilating out, or the disc skipping. Not impressed with SRS Cinema’s quality control. Almost as annoying is the absence of chapter selection on any of the movies. If you want a particular scene, you have to fast forward through the entire movie like a VHS.

Great premise, but this was really bad. It accomplishes the nearly impossible task of feeling both too long, and as if half the movie was missing.

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DVD Review– Snakewoman

In honor of the late Lina Romay, I’m doing a personal film festival and review fest of her work with Jess Franco. Starting off with the four film collection, STRIPPED DEAD (SRS Cinema, 2010), and ending with her most infamous film, Female Vampire. Bear with me, I have a lot of deadlines this month.

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Snakewoman‘s MacGuffin is the collected works of an early 20th century pop icon, Oriana.  A publicist is trying to get the legendary debauchee’s  reclusive family to sell, and lots of sexiness ensues. It’s an erotic horror movie (duh),  but places a much higher emphasis on eroticism than horror. Lina plays a relatively minor role as Dr. Van Helsing (in Francoverse the good doctor was apparently more fecund than Antonio Cromartie) and only has a few scenes.

The film touches on a lot of familiar Franco motifs: debauchery, supernatural  bisexuals,  and the uselessness of prudery. They’ve been handled better before, but he still makes better use of the terrain then the bulk of Americans in the same genre.  When you flee an actual fascist dictatorship to make your movies you tend to take them seriously, and it shows in the results. The biggest drawback to this particular effort, other than the budget, is the script. Not the most well-developed story, but still better than The Phantom Menace.

Carmen Montes plays the titular Snakewoman, and she’s both gorgeous and game.  Which describes the cast as a whole also.  All of the performances were competently delivered, and there’s a great deal of nudity. Even a bit of full frontal male.

Snakewoman  is one of the last films Jess and Lina worked on together. Unfortunately it isn’t a high point in their careers.  It’s still pretty entertaining though.

Rating: 6/10

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RIP Lina Romay

The sad news regarding Lina Romay’s passing became public this week. She was a prolific actress, and the long time (35 years) partner of Jess Franco. With how long Jess has been on an Oxygen, I’d figured that he’d pass first. My thoughts go out to him, and I hope he has family and friends to help him.

I’m a big fan of the work they did together, and Franco is a big influence on my writing. So in honor of the late, great Lina Romay, I’m going to do a marathon viewing and reviewing of some of their work together this week. It’s basically nothing, but it’s all I can offer.

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DVD Review: High Lane

I’m usually up for a good slasher flick.  High Lane fits well into what Finn Ballard categorized as road horror. Group of innocents (school chums in this case) take a trip, go someplace they shouldn’t (closed climbing trail in the Balkans) and backwoods mayhem ensues. It’s a naturalistic version of the genre, which is an interesting idea. High Lane has a lot going for it: it’s well shot; there are some damn good fight scenes;  the scenery and cast are good looking;  it’s well acted.  I really wanted to like this movie.

Pity I didn’t. The movie feels like they went off to make a horror movie, then had the sudden, shameful realization they were making a horror movie.  Being self-conscious as a fat man wearing an outgrown suit, High Lane never establishes what it actually wants to be. Character driven drama about a group dynamics under pressure, suspense movie with both nature and man as antagonists, or road slasher flick? The interior conflicts aren’t interesting enough for the first, and so many dull minutes trying keeps it from accumulating the emotional  charge needed for the others.

The characters are so boring that they aren’t even hateable.  Just slightly irritating. Since only one of them is actually  likeable, this is a problem.  I get that someone with a fear of heights could be dumb enough to make the trip for love. What I don’t get is, what kind of heartless bitch volunteers her acrophobic boyfriend for trip on a high altitude obstacle course? Our protagonist.

The film’s gritty, naturalistic designs are shot to hell by some Mythbusters worthy shenanigans with a crossbow. These would be ignorable if the film weren’t taking itself so damn seriously.  It’s not a bad film. It’s just a mediocre one that’s much less than the sum of its parts.

Rating: 2.5/5

Special Features: The Trailer. Seriously that’s it. Also continues IFC’s  annoying habit of requiring the viewer to watch all the trailers before getting to the menu. Some of those looked promising, but–in keeping with IFC’s other annoying habit–I’m pretty sure I’ve seen all the good parts of those movies.

Rating: 1/5

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SISTERS

SISTERS by Jack C. Nemo

It took me months to work up the courage, but only a minute to actually kill my sister. I almost missed that I had done it; it was that easy. Now I loved my sister, her stealing my boyfriends, and even her micromanaging. Who wouldn’t?

We had lived together our whole lives. She was such a neatnik, but she made a messy death. I made her pieces just big enough for the freezer storage bags, and wiped everything down with her favorite scented bleach. A place for everything and everything in its place, just the way she would have wanted.

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