Thursday, February 26, 2009

Horror Remix Presents… DUMMY - 4 Evil Puppets in 2 hours!

Addison, TX was hit again last night with another great installment of Horror Remix. This time the HR guys put together an interesting, humorous, and entertaining anthology of movies about evil puppets reigning terror on their owners and other innocent ( alright, so most of them are guilty of bad acting) bystanders. The turnout was definitely not what I was expecting, judging from the Christmas event I had attended in December. Boy, was I wrong. I got there early, and people were already sitting in the lobby waiting to get in. A line of about 100 people actually formed and the theater ended up being packed out, with a couple people even choosing to stand in the back. I heard one person complaining about them putting the event in the small room, but I completely disagree. The small room (which has a special name that escapes me right now) is so perfect. It just has a weird musty and grindhouse kind of vibe to it that I think completes the experience.

First, Movie Geek Feed crony The Hick announced to the crowd that we had free Knowing, Watchmen, and Friday the 13th goodies to give away. That was received quite well and we unloaded a ton of cool stuff. We’d like to say thanks again to Katie, Susan, and Russ from L and H for all the promo items. We even snapped a few photos of people holding up their free loot.

Alright, now to the important part of the event - the movie. It was basically divided into 4 films, each one cut down anywhere from 6 minutes to 45 minutes from their original running time. Sometimes they seem kind of choppy and other times they actually flow better that their original cut. Believe me, if you attend one of these, you’ll find yourself asking the same question – “How was this movie originally 90 minutes long? What did the other 60 minutes consist of?”

The first film was actually a trimmed down version of a section of the 70’s anthology TV movie Trilogy of Terror called Amelia. Unlike the films used in the Christmas edition of Horror Remix, this section actually had well-known genre actress Karen Black (Burnt Offerings, House of 1,000 Corpses, It's Alive III: Island of the Alive) playing the terrorized victim of a rather vicious little magic native doll. A lot of the movie is shot from the doll’s point of view, so it’s a lot of fast footage of chasing her around the apartment. This had some great sequences which include Black trying to grab a steak knife from the blade end while the doll is cutting himself out of a suitcase she caught him in. It also has one of the longest one sided phone conversations in film history somehow mixed with the most overly dramatic acting I believe I’ve ever seen from Black. It was hard for me to embrace this movie as complete crap as it was directed by genre legend Dan Curtis, who is responsible for such classics as the Dark Shadows series and movies, Burnt Offerings, and the Kolchak, The Night Stalker series.

After the first part was over, they showed us a rather disturbing clip from classic 30’s movie The Devil-Doll. Why couldn’t the ventriloquist just help the poor little puppet get some food? I wouldn’t have blamed that little guy for cutting up that punk after he was so cruel. Then it was time for our trusty puppet MC’s Cheesecake and Thunderclap to give us a little humorous insight about the sections. These guys never fail to provide loads of fun with their crass remarks and commentary.

The second story was Ghosthouse from 1988. The synopsis of this film says "Visions of a deceased girl and her doll bring doom to the visitors of a deserted house." It had some of the greatest bad acting. One example would be the completely off time and wooden performance of the foreign actress that is having trouble with her English lines. Who made the decision to have a girl that is obviously unfamiliar with the English language be cast as the lead female character in a movie? One of the best parts of this section was the creepy little girl, who had quite a disturbing stare with her eyes while she stroked her dolls face. The crème de la crème, though, would have to be the part where the mirror comes down and cuts the sister in half, somehow jettisoning the top half and the bottom half away from each other. The two pieces were barely connected by some stringy looking pieces of torn flesh. I do have one other question. Were ham radios still as cool as the directors want you to think they were in 1988?

Moving on to the third story, we have Pin. The synopsis of this movie states "A doctor has a lifelike medical dummy with muscles and organs visible through its clear skin named Pin (after Pinocchio). Via ventriloquism, Pin explains bodily functions in a way kids can relate to. When the over-strict doctor and his wife are killed in a car crash, his son transfers his alter-ego into Pin, whom he always believed was alive. He starts using Pin as an excuse to over-protect his sister (Ursula) from admirers and deflect unwanted intrusions, even to the extent of committing murder." Here’s another one that I have a little trouble putting into the same category of bad films. Don’t get me wrong, this is definitely not grade a horror by any means. It tries, though and does come across as disturbing and relatively creepy. It also doesn’t hurt that genre staple Terry O'Quinn from The Stepfather films, Millenium, and Tales from the Crypt lended his time and talents to this interesting piece of cinema, giving it a bit more credibility than a couple of the other portions of this HR installment. The voice throwing and creepy stare of the lab dummy really does make you uneasy. Now don’t get me wrong, it still has equally ridiculous dialogue and situations that keep you giggling and cackling. There’s also the question of how a guy who had been beat over the head with a blunt metal statue twice, put in a plastic bag that’s been zipped up, and then buried in a woodpile under a few layers of logs somehow managed to still be alive. It’s these things that you’re left to ponder as the credits roll.

The last section definitely held up to the saying “saving the best for last.” Black Devil Doll from Hell has to be one of the most ridiculously goofy films (if you can call it that) I have ever seen. The plot of this movie is basically "A woman buys a doll at a magic shop. Unbeknownst to her, the doll is possessed by an evil spirit, and it proceeds to take her over." This movie looked and sounded like it was shot on a VHS home video recorder. The quality was one level above unwatchable. The soundtrack was a mix of sounds and stock drum beats that gave you the impression the composer (hahahaha – I can’t believe I just typed that) had just purchased a low grade Casio keyboard and started putting together noises without reading the directions or having any musical experience. The acting was so laughably horrible. They actually used what appeared to be a little boy as a stand in when the doll had to move more than the actual prop would allow. Watching the kid and the doll switch from scene to scene was definitely a high point.

Of course, Cheesecake and Thunderclap came back on screen to close out the night. They had some pretty funny thing to say in closing. They definitely left the theater crowd in high spirits as the Dummy installment of Horror Remix came to a close. It appeared that everyone there had a great time and some said it was the best one yet. I personally favored the Christmas version over this, but I have a soft spot for killers in Santa Claus suits, so don’t take my word for it. I said it last time and I’ll say it again. Horror Remix can count me in for next time they head out this way. (Article by Eric Shirey)

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