Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Solitary Corner Under the Stairs...

reviews and thoughts on horror by Carey Copeland

Waxwork (1988)

Director: Anthony Hickox
Cast: Zach Galligan, Jennifer Bassey, Joe Baker, Deborah Foreman and David Warner

I remember seeing this movie at the theatre in the 80’s. That’s when we had a lot of horror movies coming out. This is about a waxwork museum run by one of ”those” creepy guys like every 80’s horror movies had. While rich and popular Mark, his girlfriend China and best friends Tony and Sarah are walking home, they pass a new waxwork in their neighborhood. Never having seen it before, they stop to investigate it, and out of nowhere, the creepy guy shows up and invites the kids check it out at a special showing. Yes, we were more trusting in the 80’s. The kids get to the waxwork going in and viewing the different horror scenes. They all split up and start being drawn in by the scenes. Tony is drawn into a scene. His scene has John Rhys-Davies as a werewolf and a hunter to kill the wolf. Tony gets bitten by the wolf and starts to transform just as the wolf gets killed. After this occurs, the scene becomes static and now it’s somebody else’s turn to experience their scene. China gets drawn into her scene and is eating dinner with Dracula and his brides. Dracula reveals his intentions and China runs. She runs into a stark white room where a man is laying on a gurney with the meat cut off of his leg. Nothing but a bone and a foot. Dracula shows up with his brides and the poor, one legged guy accidentally gets bitten and turns. China stabs the one legged guy and blood covers the walls and her white dress. This scene is actually quite impressive from an artistic standpoint. She runs out and is subdued on the staircase in the grand hall and the scene becomes static.
Mark and Sarah don't see it happen but realize something is going on. They go to the police for help. A police detective goes to the waxwork to investigate and the creepy guy welcomes him in. The cop starts looking around and comes to the scene with a mummy. He is pulled into the scene and is killed by a mummy. This scene has a helper to the archeologist that found the mummy getting his head squashed underneath the mummy’s foot. Mark and Sarah go back after seeing Mark’s uncle. His uncle knows of the waxwork and has a secret society to prevent the waxwork being brought to life and destroying the world. Sarah gets pulled in to face the Marquis de Sade. Seeing this scene it’s clear that poor Sarah is sexually repressed and wants to be the submissive. While this is going, Mark is pushed into the zombie scene. Mark is face to face with the living dead. He is chased and grabbed by zombies but he manages to cut off a zombie’s hand. He’s cornered but he remembers what his uncle told him, “It’s not real if you believe it’s not real.” The zombies have no effect on Mark so he is able to escape the scene unharmed. He then finds Sarah static in the Marquis de Sade scene. He enters the scene to rescue Sarah but she is taken with the Marquis. Mark has to force Sarah to come with him the Marquis faces off with Mark but can’t hurt him because of believing this isn’t real. The Marquis allows them to escape the scene.
The creepy guy with his little and giant helpers try to capture Mark and Sarah but Marks uncle and the waxwork fighters burst in. Several of the fighters are pushed into the different scenes and the waxworks come to life in the real world. A battle ensues and there are casualties on both sides. The Marquis goes after Mark and Sarah starts going kookoo for coco puffs when she sees the Marquis but Mark prevails. The creepy guy is pushed into a vat of wax and the whole place burns down. Is this the end? Hell no! The cut off zombie hand scurries across the yard while the mansion burns in the background. The effects are great. There’s plenty of blood and gore in the rated R version but the unrated is A LOT bloodier. It was a good concept and the thought has crossed my mind several times of what if. What if wax statues really came to life? Imagine wax Elvis or Yoda coming to life and killing unsuspecting visitors. I liked the movie and I like Anthony Hickox. I think he has a great eye as director and the whole feel of the movie was obvious because of this.

Eraserhead (1976)

Director: David Lynch
Cast: Jack Nance, Charlotte Stewart, Allen Joseph and Jeanne Bates

I’m not sure how to categorize this movie other than saying it’s a David Lynch movie. It seems that all of Lynch’s movies are the result of some type of drug induced something. Does he dream his stuff up or is it actually thought of consciously? Eraserhead is one of his movies that will give you a sense of “WTF.”
Lynch has a lot of sexual undertones such as a man named Henry Spencer hovering in space. His brain, represented by a rocky planet visible through his head, hovers behind him. In Henry's brain there is a Man in the Planet who pulls levers to control Henry's functions which represents his central nervous system or is it a representation of his “bad side.” This scene is going to represent Henry having sexual intercourse with a woman named Mary X, his girlfriend. Henry's mouth opens and a mutant sperm looking “thing” slides its way out. The Man in the Planet pulls several levers and launches the sperm into a hole filled with water which represents the vagina of Mary X. A creature is born in the depths and rises to the surface.

The next scene has Henry looking at the camera then walking home to his apartment through a slum in an industrial wasteland, stepping in a mud hole halfway there. When he gets to the lobby, he checks the mail and finds nothing. He then takes the elevator up to his apartment. Before he gets inside, the Beautiful Girl Across the Hall informs him that Mary X called and invited him to dinner. After going into his apartment, Henry puts on a record and takes off his shoes. Finding his sock wet, he puts his socks on the radiator. He then stares at the radiator which represents thoughts of suicide. We see that there are electrical wires around the radiator. In the background is a picture of a mushroom cloud which shows the setting to be a post-apocalyptic future. He then throws a stone in a pot of water which is meant to be a superstitious gesture, and looks at a picture of Mary.

He then goes over to Mary's house to meet her family and have dinner. While Henry is talking with Mr. and Mrs. X, Henry reveals he is a printer but is "on vacation". Henry meeting the family is portrayed as very awkward throughout the scene. Mr. X brings man-made chickens out and asks Henry if he can carve them. The chicken on Henry’s plate starts twitching and bleeding when Henry tries to carve them. Mrs. X asks to talk with her in the other room and asks Henry about whether or not he had pre-marital sexual intercourse with Mary. He confirms that they did and it's revealed that Mary had a deformed, premature baby. Mrs. X orders that they must get married as soon as possible and pick up the baby from the hospital.

The next scene cuts to after they get married and get the mutated, alien baby home. Henry arrives, checks the mail to find a worm in a little black box. Henry hides this from Mary first in his pocket and later in a cupboard next to the bed. He gets home and contemplates suicide again, this time more seriously. The baby cries continually until Mary can't stand it and goes back home, leaving Henry to deal with the baby.

Henry has trouble sleeping and hears the baby stop crying. He gets out of bed to check its temperature and after the temperature reads fine he looks back at the baby and it is covered in sores and apparently sick. After he sets up a vaporizer, the Beautiful Girl Across the Hall comes over and seduces him. He sees the lady in the radiator on a stage singing while mutant sperm looking “things “fall from the ceiling and she steps on them representing having sex and “not getting the girl pregnant. Henry goes on stage and a dead tree in some dirt is wheeled out which makes him uneasy and he steps to the side of the stage where he plays with a railing staring off into space, his head pops off and the crying mutated baby takes its place. His head forms a pool of blood and eventually falls into it, re-appearing out of the sky and landing in an alley. A little boy sees the head and takes it to an eraser factory where his head is made into erasers, thus the name “Eraserhead.”. He wakes up

after hearing something outside his apartment. He sees the Beautiful Girl Across the Hall being intimate with a man named Mr. Roundheels. When he goes back inside his apartment, the baby makes strange sounds like it's laughing at Henry. Henry moves over to the baby and begins to cut off the swaddling covering its body causing the baby to breathe heavily. To Henry's horror, the baby's body splits open almost like Henry had cut into it, Henry starts poking around the internal organs and stabs the baby's heart with the scissors and collapses on the other side of the room. The baby's innards start spewing and squirting and flow down the table over the electrical wires which start sparking and short-circuit the lights. He sees the baby's head hovering around on a long neck, as the lights flicker in and out. The baby's head is now gigantic and it engulfs the camera. The man in the planet is seen pulling a lever and apparently being electrocuted. We than see Henry embrace the woman in the radiator. I’m thinking that the woman in the radiator was his “good” side kind of like the representation of the angel and the devil on people’s shoulders. The devil is impulse and lack of judgment and the angel is compassion and rational thought.

--Carey Copeland