Friday, June 28, 2013

Worth Mentioning - Hentai Heart Attack

We watch several movies a week. Every Friday, we'll talk a little about some of the movies we watched that we felt were Worth Mentioning.


Cody tells tales of sex and horror.


NIGHT OF THE TENTACLES (2013)

Twenty-four year old Dave lives a sad and lonely life. A freelance digital artist, he spends most of his time cooped up in his apartment, sitting at his computer creating "fantasy erotica" and arguing over the phone with his employers about how much alien jizz is the right amount for a picture to feature.

Dave is maddened by the sounds of his next door neighbors having raucous sex at all hours of the night, but every evening he flattens himself to the floor when his downstairs neighbor, a pregnant single girl named Esther, gets home from work and immediately starts masturbating. Dave eavesdrops and masturbates along with her.

That's what he's doing when he has a heart attack.
 


Dave finds out that he's in need of a heart transplant, but the odds of that happening don't seem promising. He's probably going to die soon. So when the devil himself manifests in his living room and offers him a deal, Dave is inclined to accept... and is hustled into doing so before he gets a chance to read the user's license agreement. The devil gives Dave a new heart, but it's not in his chest, it's in the small wooden chest on his coffee table.

Things begin looking better for Dave after that, he actually meets and exchanges words with Esther, and soon the two are developing a romantic connection. But before long, the tentacled heart-thing in the wooden chest starts talking to Dave and demanding to be fed. What does a heart from Hell eat? Meat, of course. Meat straight off the bones of a living, screaming creature, ideally a human being. And if Dave doesn't give the heart its desired meals, he'll die.
 

 

The third feature from Ohio-based indie filmmaker Dustin Mills, Night of the Tentacles is a great Faust meets Lovecraft meets Little Shop of Horrors story, shot on a miniscule budget and almost entirely in Mills' own apartment, although in such a way that the one apartment stands in for multiple apartments in the same building. The movie has a nice visual style, with cool uses of colorful lighting, and the effects are good, a mix of CG and practical. The practical effects can be as simple as a tentacle being filmed as it's dragged off a couch, the footage shown in reverse so it looks like it's crawling across the couch, but it works. Mills's use of CGI continues to impress me, both because of the low budget and the fact that how to do that stuff is a complete mystery to me.
 


The cast handles their roles well; the very animated Brandon Salkil as Dave, Nicole Gerity as the very likeable Esther, Eugene Flynn as the amusing demon Belial, Jackie McKown makes viewers instantly hate the horrible bitch Delilah from the apartment upstairs, and Mills gave himself the entertaining role of the building's lecherous landlord. His dog Charlie plays Dave's dog Charlie. Mills also references his previous movies with the inclusion of characters named Iggy and Mona. Iggy and Mona started off as puppets in The Puppet Monster Massacre, then Mike Blair and Melissa Blair played a live action version of them in Zombie A-Hole. The Blairs are Iggy and Mona again in this one. Whether puppetized or live action, these characters have had sex and died horrific deaths in all three Dustin Mills movies so far.

If you're into low budget indie horror, Night of the Tentacles is definitely one to watch, as Mills is turning out to be one of the most interesting filmmakers working in the DIY genre trenches.




HARD TO DIE (1990)

Directed by Jim Wynorski under the pseudonym Arch Stanton and released the same year as his Sorority House Massacre 2, Hard to Die is very similar to the earlier film, with the setting moved from a sorority house to a skyscraper. The script was put together by two of the same writers - Mark McGee and J.B. Rogers - and SHM2's third writer, Bob Sheridan, was still around to make a cameo.

While SHM2 centered on five college girls, HTD centers on five women working for the Acme Lingerie company - two veteran employees, two temps, and a new hire who got her job by sleeping with the boss - who have been tasked with spending their Saturday doing inventory, which involves moving boxes of receipts from the basement of the company building up to the head offices on the eighth floor. Messing with these boxes gets the girls all covered in dust, but things get worse for them when they accidentally set off the sprinkler system. Now they're dirty and their clothes are soaked. Time for showers and a change into clean clothes, and the only clothes around are Acme lingerie items...

To top it all off, the girls open a box that was mistakenly delivered to the building, a package that was supposed to go to a specialist in the occult played by Famous Monsters of Filmland editor Forrest J. Ackerman. When the box is opened, an evil spirit is unleashed that proceeds to possess some of the girls and use their bodies to knock off the others and anyone else who crosses their path, like Evil Toons' Monique Gabrielle as a Chinese food delivery person in a clown suit.



The movie is basically a sequel to Sorority House Massacre 2, as evident from the presence of Orville Ketchum (credited as playing himself, but the actor's name is really Peter Spellos), the creepy neighbor who is now the creepy janitor. Ketchum is known to have been involved in "that sorority house massacre" that happened almost a year ago, and there's disagreement among the girls over whether they believe he didn't have anything to do with the murders. Ketchum tells the girls about the massacre, although like SHM2 used stock footage from The Slumber Party Massacre to make a backstory for that movie, here the same SPM stock footage is used to tell a mixed up version of SHM2.

As odd as that is, it would've been odd to use SHM2 footage as well, because the cast includes two of the sorority girls, Robyn Harris and Melissa Moore, among the Acme employees. Bridget Carney, who appeared in SHM2 as a stripper, was moved up to the main cast for this one, and the group of girls is rounded out with Deborah Dutch and Lindsay Taylor/Karen Mayo-Chandler, who unfortunately passed away in 2006.

While the evil spirit is running rampant through the Acme building, police officers Block and Shawlee, J├╝rgen Baum and Karen Chorak/Toni Naples reprising their SHM2 roles, are out in the city trying to get to the bottom of the Orville Ketchum/killer issue once and for all. Along the way they crash a porno shoot, during which Wynorski and Kelli Maroney make cameos as the director and one of his stars.

The climactic sequence features copious amounts of machine gun fire, with which the movie justifies its title being a play on Die Hard.



My recent viewing of Hard to Die was just my second viewing of the film, the only previous time was when I had caught it on The Movie Channel one night in the '90s, an airing probably hosted by Joe Bob Briggs. Although twenty years have gone by, I've always remembered that viewing, because of the content of the film - the odd tone that it and SHM2 have, the scantily clad women, the amount of abuse Orville Ketchum can take but keep on ticking - but also what was going on around me as I watched it. We often go into our personal memories that are connected to movies on this blog, thus why it's called Life Between Frames, but this one is sort of awkward: my viewing of Hard to Die was concurrent with the first time I ever overheard people having real, live sex. As a booty call scenario played out between former sweethearts, the girl's vocalizations were loud enough to travel through a closed bedroom door, down a hallway, across the living room, and to my ears as I sat in front of the television watching Hard to Die. It was an interesting night of movie watching that I still recall vividly.


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