Seventies DVD Revelry!
By John Saleeby
March 1st, 2006
When you're a kid and you hear about a Horror Movie but never get to see it ("Hey, Mom - Will you take us to see 'Gut Gobbling Go-Go Girls'? Aw, C'MON!!") it sticks inside your head getting scarier and scarier and bloodier and bloodier over the years until when you finally get to see it years later you're so let down you lose all interest in ever doing Marlon Brando's "Stick Of Butter" trick in "Last Tango In Paris". So few Horror movies are capable of living up to their reputation that you're probably better off never talking or reading about them until you don't know anything about them at all and just grab whatever you can get your hands on. You know, like with girls.
"The Hills Have Eyes", for example. If I had never heard about this movie (And there are people around here so ignorant they've never even heard of "Night Of The Living Dead" or "Gut Gobbling Go-Go Girls") and had just happened to rent it I probably would have had a pretty good time. Unfortunately I've been dying to see "The Hills Have Eyes" ever since I was a kid so when I finally got hold of the DVD a couple of weeks ago I was just sitting on the couch going ""When am I going to become so overwhelmed with horror I pull out my eyeballs and plug up my ears with em? This SUCKS! More than halfway through and I bet I haven't even shit myself yet . . . Nope, not yet!"
"The Hills Have Eyes" is a Wes Craven film and how this guy's name ever got right up there with George Romero and Tobe Hooper while nobody remembers who directed "Gut Gobbling Go Go Girls" beats me with a ball peen hammer. It's all about this Nice American Family who's trailer gets stuck out in the middle of the desert and find themselves at war with a tribe of cannibals who live in the mountains. And, to give Craven credit, the sequence where two maniacs break into the trailer, rape the teenage girl, shoot the Mother and the older Daughter, bite the head off the canary and suck it's blood out is a Masterpiece of trailer breaking into, teenage girl raping, Mother and older Daughter shooting, canary head biting off and blooding sucking out. Unfortunately, the older Daughter is played by Dee Wallace and a better movie would have had her head bitten off and her blood sucked out. I hate Dee Wallace. Did the rabid dog bite her head off and suck her blood out in "Cujo"? Should I rent that?
"The Hills Have Eyes" is effective as long as it's Night Time but then the Sun comes up, the Family's dog turns into Rin Tin Tin, the soundtrack starts pumping out Disco Car Chase Music from "Chips", the kids improvise Super Weapons so goofy even Craven is making "MacGyver" jokes on the DVD commentary, and I was waiting for the Rednecks from the end of "Night Of The Living Dead" to come in and make a bonfire out of the bodies. But the lil' cannibal chick is kinda cute.
I saw a Coming Attractions for "The Driller Killer" in 1978 and when I found out a few years ago that it was directed by Abel Ferrara, the nut who made "Bad Lieutenant" and "The Addiction", I knew I had blown another Prime 1978 Opportunity. If you don't already know about Abel Ferrara . . . Well, Abel has enough trouble getting money to make his movies already, the fewer people who know about him the better. So when I saw a DVD of "The Driller Killer" on the shelf at my friendly neighborhood video place I knew it was time to see it. And then move to another neighborhood.
Ferrara stars in "The Driller Killer" as Reno, a starving artist driven to kill when seminal New York Punk Rocker Tony Coca Cola moves into his building and starts rehearsing twenty four hours a day. This Reno guy is in such a rut the only place he ever goes is Max's Kansas City to see . . . Tony Coca Cola! I figure as an artist working in the classical medium of Paint, Reno is so threatened by as modern an art form as Punk Rock that the only way he can respond is to run around New York killing winos with an electric drill. Hey, at least he doesn't become a low budget film maker. Or . . . does . . . he?
So, is "The Driller Killer" a good movie? Uh . . . Only if you get the DVD and watch it while listening to Ferrara's commentary at the same time. Nothing enhances the entertainment value of watching a guy kill people than listening to him in his current state as a broken down old stoner giggling and cackling and saying things like "Uh oh, Spaghetti-Os!!" or "Upsey Daisey!!" over and over again. Ferrara's delight in heckling his own movie is so infectious you might as well share needles with the guy. Hey, Abel - Can't get backing for your next project? Forget the directing thing and get into doing your crazy "Uh oh, Spaghetti-Os!!" act on commentaries for other movies like "Brokeback Mountain" or "Munich" - They need all the laughs they can get! But the lil' junkie chick is kinda cute.
Go after these things with the dogged determination of Tony Coca Cola emptying out his backstage dressing room with frenzied cries "I WANNA SEE SOMEBODY'S PUSSSYYY!!!" and you're bound to hit a Winner sooner or later and Thank God for George Romero's "The Crazies"! This movie may not be as great as "Night Of The Living Dead" or "Dawn Of The Dead" but, come on, if there was a third Romero movie as fucked up as those two we'd all go psycho and they'd have to call in The Army. Which is exactly what "The Crazies" is all about - Some chemical gets into the water of this Small Town and everybody starts carrying like they live in the Big City. "The Crazies" will remind you of so many other science fiction movies that you might forget that Romero made it long before most of those other movies ever came along - George was every bit ahead of his time as Tony Coca Cola!
Unfortunately, the commentary track on "The Crazies" DVD is so serious (This guy asks Romero if he was inspired by Peckinpah and George replies that his major influence was Godard! I couldn't be more bummed if I heard Bill Murray talking about how much he admired Gene Wilder) that you can't help but wish George had been strong out long enough to throw in a few "Uh oh, Spaghetti-Os!!" to lighten things up a little bit. But ya know what? George Romero is so good that when he starts jabbering about editing and stuff I just sit there trying to actually LEARN something instead of making a lot of silly ass jokes as usual. So if this article isn't as much as my usual nutty Acid Logic stuff just wait until my forthcoming essay in the April issue of . . . What's that magazine called again? Geez, two years of High School French Classes and I still can't remember a word of that shit. Don't worry, it'll be the magazine with the two cowboys on the cover. But the lil' crazy chick is kinda cute.
Oh yeah, they have a remake of "The Hills Have Eyes" coming out, a remake of "The Crazies" is in production, and once we get the money, we're going to remake "The Driller Killer" with me as Reno Spaghetti-Os and Wil Forbis as Pee Wee Pepsi Cola. Sorry, Forbis, you just aren't cool enough to play My Man Tony Coca Cola. You're Pee Wee Pepsi Cola and just shut yer trap before I decide to call you D'Arcy RC Cola or . . . Aw, Hell . . .
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John Saleeby wrote for The National Lampoon while he was in high school, was a stand up comic in New York, and has contributed to the net humor zines Schmuck.com, Campaign Central, and the legendary American Jerk. He's on medication now so he's probably a little nicer now than he was when you met him earlier.
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