Sunday, October 14, 2012

Jason goes to Midnites for Maniacs--Countdown to Hell

Okay, so part of why I thought about THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER as a horror movie is because I followed it up later that evening with this horror movie triple-bill. As with all Midnites for Maniac shows, a big thanks to Jesse Hawthorne Ficks for being our high priest proselytizing under-appreciated films in our church of film. And thanks to the Roxie for being our church for the night (instead of our usual church, the Castro.) Anyway, here's the rundown:

First up, NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: THE DREAM WARRIORS. The last surviving Elm Street kids are in a mental institution for sleep disorders and serial nightmares. Young grad student Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp, the heroine/survivor of the first two NIGHTMARE movies) is the only one who sympathizes with them because she knows exactly what they're going through. Kristen Parker (Patricia Arquette) has the unique ability to draw other people into her dreams, and that power becomes crucial for them to team up and defeat Freddy before he kills them all in uniquely ironic ways. This is sort of the cusp of when Freddy became really, really silly in the creative deaths, when you actually still cared about the kids and rooted for some of them to survive.

Next up was TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 (get it--the first one was a part 3, this is a part 2, the final one will be a part 1) This is a movie so fucking psychotic that Dennis Hopper plays the good guy. And it's not Dennis Hopper playing a sane role, like in...I can't think of any movie where Dennis Hopper pretended to be sane. But this is Dennis Hopper at his manic usual, and he's the good guy. It's also a weirdly comical and gratuitously gory flick. And it's a movie where Leatherface has a bizarrely sympathetic side, even has a love interest with the girl. And Leatherface is constantly being upstaged by Bill Mosely insane turn as "Chop Top."

A couple of things I noticed this time around. First, when Dennis Hopper goes into the final battle with 2 small chainsaws and one giant one, his bandoleer is filled with spare chains for his saws. That's a nice touch and I don't know why I never noticed that before. The second thing is the religious elements of both of the first films. In NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3 (spoiler alert), Freddy is defeated by burying his remains in consecrated ground. In TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 Dennis Hopper is singing a hymn as he storms the home of the psycho cannibal killers.

And that religious theme continues in HELLRAISER, Clive Barker's classic flesh-ripper about the puzzle box, the cenobites, and the pleasures of heaven or hell. It's also a surprisingly erotic movie (at its heart its a story of forbidden female longing--not just for her husband's brother but for his reincarnated corpse that becomes stronger the more blood she feeds him.) And I forgot how damn goopy the movie was. I remembered the flesh ripping and the hooks and chains (I used to fantasize about being wealthy enough to afford a house with an extra room I could decorate in a chains-and-hooks HELLRAISER theme.) But I had forgotten the goopy bits of gore falling off the reincarnated corpse as he's building himself back up. Damn, that was awesome.

And that pretty much sums up the whole night--damn, that was awesome.

Total Running Time: 279 minutes
My Total Minutes: 300,137

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