This week, the Dead Lantern Triumvirate (Matius Caesar, Pompeius Jeffus, and Deejus Crassus) tackle the inherent contradictions of the “Found Footage” subgenre of horror. Do the contradictions inherent within the subgenre itself change how we look at them and “judge” them?
Oh, and as an added bonus, the audio quality seems to be back to normal. Hurray!
I warned you not to go out tonight…
It’s been a year to the day, and I finally get a chance to sit down and continue with my Video Nasties project. I have to say, despite my recently bitching about watching movies on-demand on my PC, this method actually works quite well for review purposes. Watching a movie like this in a small window while typing alongside it, is in fact rather ideal.
However, it’s actually a common misconception that William Lustig’s Maniac was a Video Nasty at all. While it was banned by the BBFC, it was never in fact on the infamous list itself. This happened to other movies such as The Exorcist, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Silent Night Deadly Night – all commonly albeit incorrectly thought to have once been classified as Video Nasties. Nonetheless, due to its banned status (the movie was finally passed in the UK with cuts in 2002), I feel it fits the profile. While not categorically a slasher movie, Maniac contains enough slashy goodness to both entertain and unnerve.
This film reminds me in many ways of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and is almost as unsettling. The plot: our main character kills women around New York, having been traumatised by abuse at the hands of his mother. Joe Spinell, the actor playing the titular maniac, comes across as exhaustedly lecherous and sinister. This is in fact one of the few movies I had to turn off during my first viewing, namely during the hooker strangulation scene. Spinell’s eyes, especially during this early scene, are very frightening.
Unlike most 80s slashers, we meet the killer instantly, mere minutes into the film. Showing us the killer right away really unnerves the audience. While many slashers leave you guessing, the obscurity of the killer’s identity adding to the tension, the mystery of Maniac is simply why he acts the way he does, and what will he do next. I love the juxtaposition of a sad lonely man getting dressed for the day, set against a creepy background of a eerie shrine to his late mother and a blood soaked mannequin in his bed. It almost makes you feel sorry for him until you see the grotesque way in which his bedroom is decorated.
Spinell’s character unceremoniously nails his victims’ scalps to his mannequins. This is a cruel desecration of the corpses, combined with the keeping of a trophy to remember his victims. He also dresses mannequins in his victims’ clothes; perhaps a manifestation of his desire to pretend they are still alive? Few movie murderers come across as literally ‘crazy’ as this guy.
Now, you can’t discuss Maniac without mentioning Tom Savini pulling off one of the greatest death scenes of the decade – exploding his own head! I used to wonder how well this movie would have worked were it not for Savini’s spectacular gore effects – but I do believe the movie has other strengths too, namely the foreboding atmosphere, and the true sense of menace portrayed by the killer. The effects truly give it that extra edge to really frighten you though.
Of course, it’s not all perfect. I do marvel at the stupidity of the nurse who expresses fear at the idea of a murderer stalking the streets of New York city, yet proceeds to turn down a lift home from a friend in favour of taking the underground train alone. The movie is also marred slightly by the synth score, but then what 80s movie isn’t?
Speaking of bad 80s music. Interestingly enough, according to the gospel of Wikipedia, the song “Maniac” from Flashdance was inspired by Lustig’s movie, and originally written about a serial killer. The lyrics were rewritten for the 1983 dance movie, and the song was stripped of its Academy Award nomination when the news emerged that it was not written for the movie (the nomination and subsequent win went to Irene Cara’s “What a Feeling”). The alleged original lyrics include “He’s a maniac, maniac, that’s for sure, he’ll kill your cat and nail him to the door.”
This week, Mat is nipple deep in Outpost Doom groupie tail and just couldn’t make it to the show. Apparently, Derrick quit seconds before the show was to start so Chris and Shawn are left to their own devices. Below the fold, contest winner Thuraya rocking her Blackfoot Lounge prize!
Blackfoot Lounge: where podcasters go to die! haha
…Just remember who actually purchased Killer Workout in addition to watching it!
p.s. Context: I was unable to be on the last Blackfoot Lounge, in which I had selected Killer Workout as the film to watch, leaving Chris and Shawn to struggle through it on their own. I shed no tears. Man up, boys! haha
Available for your listening pleasure: Darkness Falls
Flashback Weekend is only a couple weeks away and Dead Lantern will have a big presence. Deejay, Steve, T.J., Jackie, Ali, and Myself will all be in attendance. I’ve also heard that Chris from Blackfoot Lounge will also be roaming around. More than likely we’ll be recording a Splattercast either from the event itself, or late at night while we are partying in our Yogi Bear lakeside cabin.
The cool thing is that we will have a vendor booth set up and there are going to be lots and lots of Outpost Doom DVD’s to get your hands on as well as Outpost Doom and Dead Lantern tee shirts. I’m also looking into making up a bunch of cd’s of Splattercast “greatest hits” episodes (open to suggestions for this). And of course, we’ll be filming everything so eventually we’ll have video posted of our shenanigans. It’s going to be a super swell time (as long as the rain gods don’t hate on us).
Things non-Dead Lantern related that I am looking forward to: Movie screenings (Dolls, The Undertaker & His Pals, Pieces, My Name is Bruce, Evil Dead Trilogy), asking Charles Band for my money back, acting stupid in front of Bruce Campbell, being stalked by a killer by the lake, and eating corndogs.
Also, don’t miss when I blow up Bryan from Drunken Zombie’s car and punch him in the face repeatedly. I’m making a good action movie.
So come out to Flashback Weekend! It’s going to be a great time.