One of the best things about a job like this, working anywhere you damn well please as long as there’s internet access, is that you can make yourself very, very comfortable, grab a coffee or some tea, let one cat curl up on the desk, the other in front of the heater at your feet, have both dogs sleeping under your chair, and flick the tv into life while you try to whittle down a todo list that never seems to get much smaller.
I’m a big fan of B-grade movies, and horror movies are generally pretty good for this sort of thing, since many are low budget and not populated by actors who would rival Laurence Olivier or Katharine Hepburn for any major awards. This is why I dearly love Monster Fest, brought to us by the fine folks at AMC each year around Halloween.
The former is just plain old schlock where a bunch of psychics apparently can’t see the killer puppets coming. One by one, they’re offed by malevolent stop-motion puppets in a variety of gory ways (although the gore is not explicitly shown, as I expect having to purchase/make that much fake blood would have cut into the budget significantly). When the lead actor is Paul LeMat and the most innovative part of the movie is a camera angle at the height of the puppet, eight or nine inches off the ground, when they slice open someone’s throat or drill a human in the skull because that human forgot the cardinal rule of these movies – do NOT kneel on the floor and look under the bed, because you know damn well there are, in fact, monsters there – well, that’s all bonus for a bad movie junkie.
The latter movie is a delight for anyone who laughed at that scene in Nightmare on Elm Street where the chick is rolling around on the ceiling because she fell asleep and Freddie got her. That would be me. Julia and Larry are an unhappily married couple who move into a new house where the kitchen is filled with rotting flesh, trash, and assorted maggots. In real life, this would probably be a tip that something was wrong, but in the movies, people blithely move themselves in, not caring or knowing about the fact that Larry’s missing brother Frank – with whom Julia had an affair and with whom Julia slept on the day of their wedding – is actually rotting under the floorboards in the attic because he bought a puzzle box off some old dude in a generic desert city, tried to play with it, and got sucked into some other universe where cenobites tortured him in some weird S&M thing that isn’t ever fully explained.
Things get interesting when Larry scratches himself on an exposed nail and, being the sissy he is, runs to Julia to have her fix it. Julia happens to be in the attic where she’s having some out of body experience with old Frank. Larry bleeds all over the floor, and Frank magically starts putting himself back together. This is a way for Frank to put some skin back on his bones and escape the cenobites, get him back with Julia, and have the two of them live happily ever after – except old Frank isn’t looking too hot, and needs Julia to bring more victims to the house so they can be killed and Frank can use their blood and skin and whatnot.
Or something. It’s a standard, really, of bad/evil thing eating/using the flesh and blood of the living.
Larry and his daughter, who don’t seem all that bright about the things going on in their very own house, finally catch on. Larry gets killed by Frank, who then pulls a Hannibal Lecter and skins himself as Larry so when Larry’s daughter runs to him to tell him there’s something really, really wrong with Uncle Frank, he can tell her he’s taken care of it. Got that? Naturally, Larry’s a pile of skinned out flesh on the floor somewhere. The daughter steals the box, opens it while she’s in the crazy person hospital, and makes a deal with the cenobites that will spare her if she gives Frank back to them. Which she does, of course, since someone has to come out of this alive. It’s in the horror film rulebook.
And yes, it’s all as silly and weird and as full of crappy special effects as it sounds, up to and including both the part at the end where the box is on a fiery trash pile, some bum sticks him arm in, picks it up, turns into a dragon-looking thing, then flies off with it and the credits that run by like a squirrel on speed. Sequel City, here we come!
The head-scratching, laughter, and general amusement can all be yours, too – if you’re willing to sit through massively bad films on a regular basis.