Rats and the City

look's like it's last call on mulberry street

I was shocked and delighted when I finally managed to catch the low-budget horror flick, Mulberry Street.

Shocked, that it was a combination of several different genres.

Delighted, that it was so much gory fun.

Part of the Eight Films that were so rotten they could not get a real release To Die For series, Mulberry Street tells the tale of The Big Apple overrun with some kind of disease infested rats who are now attacking people. Once the rat bites a human, they become ill (the humans) and morph into werevermin.

Borrowing from movies like Night of the Living Dead, Nosferatu and 28 Days Later, Mulberry Street manages to rise above the fray due to the odd but likable characters that live in the condemned apartment building on the street the the film is named after. You've got your disabled war vet, a single mother and her son, a drag queen, an old man with emphysema, a former boxer as well as several other colorful folks. What is even more impressive is the subtle way the film addresses certain issues like gentrification, the Iraq war, and the inadequacy of the government to come to the aid of its people during times of catastrophe.

What I found especially pleasing was the relationship between the boxer, Klutch (the film's co author, Nick Damici) and the drag queen, Coco (Ron Brice). It is quite clear that both men are close, and that Coco has helped Klutch raise his daughter, in fact when he discovers that Klutch's daughter is coming home from her stint in Iraq, Coco says, "It will be nice to have our little girl back home". What's even more interesting, is that Coco who is clearly smitten with Klutch, tries to convince him to date the single mother in the building.

If Mulberry Street has one weakness it is the over use of camera tricks, that at first make the film fun to watch, but soon grow tiresome - can't anyone hold a scene in a film longer than twenty seconds these days?

If there were any justice in the world, this is the movie about New York City that everyone would be flocking to instead of that other one, you know the one about the four middle aged, oversexed gals who dress like hookers, have seemingly unending sources of income, and whine about their sex lives ... what is that movie called? Oh well, I seem to have blocked it from my memory.


Yo Otis, Where did you get that Leather Pride Flag bumper sticker?

After watching the so so horror/comedy, Otis, I found myself going back over one scene again and again to make sure I was really seeing what I was seeing.

As Ashley Johnson's Riley Lawson is managing her escape from Otis's 80's Prom from Hell, she creeps by the bumper of a car where a Leather Pride Flag sticker is prominently displayed!

Say what?

Yeah, there it is. No doubt about it. Does that mean that Otis was a full figured leather boy? Uh, wait, no, he's obviously attracted to women since he's constantly kidnapping them, naming them Kim and trying to impress them with his dance moves and football skills...

Then again, maybe it's his nasty brother Milo (Kevin Pollak), he's sure a tough little bastard, then again, he's married (not that that means anything).
The mystery was not solved when I listened to the director's commentary... ah well.

About the movie: It is worth a Netflix rental for the awesome 80's soundtrack and the site of the wonderfully demented Kate Lawson (Illeana Douglas) who goes from suburban mom to blood crazed torture freak.

Back to that flag: I know that the Leather Pride Flag is now embraced by the entire cow-skin-wearing-hurt-me-please community, but for the most part, I've only seen it displayed in gayborhoods and gay bars.


So you’re searching for a Star Studded Serving of Seventies Style Satanic Cinema?

secastLook no further than The Sentinel.

Before I say anything, let’s take a look at this cast: Jose’ Ferrer, Cristina Raines (worst acting you’ll ever see by a lead incidentally), Chris Sarandon, Ava Gardner, Jeff Goldblum, Burgess Meredith, Sylvia Miles, Beverly D’Angelo, Eli Wallach, Christopher Walken, Jerry Orbach, Martin Balsam, John Carradine, and Tom Berenger .

Boy Howdy, talk about your night of a thousand stars!

Anyway, The Sentinel is a pretty crappy horror film made in 1976 that tells the tale of a fashion model named Alison (Raines) who moves into a brownstone in Brooklyn Heights (her rent is only 400.00 a month, could you imagine?) and before you can say, Rosemary’s Baby she is beset upon by her odd-ball neighbors. First there is Burgess Meredith as the fey Mr. Chazen who walks around with a yellow canary on his shoulder. Later on, our heroine meets the wacky Gerde Engstrom (Sylvia Miles) who talks in a pretty bad Russian accent, and her girl friend, Sandra (Beverly D’Angelo). Alison is put off by the ladies when she witnesses Sandra masturbating (tastefully, but none the less…) in front of her. Later on, Alison is invited to a party at Mr. Chazen’s (for his cat), and meets the rest of the oddballs that live in her building.

A bit put off by the goings on, Alison meets with her real estate agent (Ava Gardner) and tells her about the neighbors. The agent is a bit perplexed and explains that there is only one other tenant in the building and that all the other apartments are empty (cue the ominous music).

Chris Sarandon (sporting a nice 70’s blow dried man-do and ‘stache) is Alison’s lover, lawyer and boyfriend. He begins to investigate the creepy house where his paramour is living and finds out all kinds of nasty secrets about the house’s past. Soon he is engaging a Latin professor (Martin Balsam), and two detectives (Eli Wallach and Chris Walken) to help him piece together the mystery.

Meanwhile, a girl’s got to eat; so Alison goes on modeling assignments. She is photographed by her friend, Jack (Jeff Goldblum—whose, if I’m not mistaken, voice seems dubbed) who helps her get a job in a TV commercial, the director of said commercial (Jerry Orbach in a horrid Sonny Bono wig) is less than thrilled with Allison as she keeps passing out because … well because she lives in a ghost house, I guess.

Things just keep getting weirder and weirder and more nonsensical cumulating in an extremely disturbing finale that features deformed people (yes, actual freakishly physically deformed people) crawling through the house because the gates of hell are about to be opened (or something like that).

Oh man, this movie sucks so much you won’t believe it. But it’s also a hoot! The fashions, the acting, the stars…you can’t go wrong! You'll love it!!!
NOTE: this was originally posted on my other blog on May 12, 2005


Hey, was Rob Zombie cribbing from John Waters?

NOTE: I originally posted this on my other blog on 08/04/07: but I thought it would fit in nice on this blog...
The other night I re-watched, Rob Zombie's The Devil's Rejects on cable television. Rejects is the tale of a majorly dysfunctional family on the run from the law who cut a swath of mayhem along their way. The three main players are Otis (the psychotic hillbilly half son), Baby (the psychotic blond nymphomaniac half sister of Otis) and Captain Spaulding( the psychotic father figure to Baby and Otis, who wears a clown face for most of the film).

As I was watching this movie, it suddenly dawned on me where I'd seen three similar characters, in a similarly disturbing film; John Water's Pink Flamingos (which tells the tale of a majorly dysfunctional family who cut a swath of mayhem along the way). The three main players are Crackers (the chicken loving, psychotic hillbilly), Cotton (the psychotic blond nymphomaniac) and Babs Johnson (the psychotic mother figure to Crackers and Cotton, who wears clown-like make up for all of the film).

Divine as Babs Johnson - Sid Haig as Captain Spaulding: crazed parental figures with a penchant for blue eye-shadow, murder, and scenery chewing.

Danny Mills as Crackers - Bill Moseley as Otis: two wacko hillbillies with a thing for murder, mutilation and chicken.

Mary Vivian Pearce as Cotton - Sheri Moon as Baby: a couple of blond bimbos with odd sexual urges, a love of gun play and grating speaking voices.

The more I watched The Devil's Rejects, the more I kept thinking of Pink Flamingos. Both movies are presented in the most grotesque fashion and seemingly celebrate the fucked-up-protagonists as heroes. Both films make light of murder and celebrate heinous activities. Both movies have allusions to the Manson murders... and, most importantly, both are oddly compelling stories about family bonds (no matter how sleazy those bonds might be).

Of course, I doubt that Rob Zombie would ever admit that he borrowed from Waters; his film is much more bloody and plays like a 70's drive-in exploitation work, while Pink Flamingos is a low budget black comedy that was probably made for one reason only, to cause outrage! Still though, the similarities are there. I wonder if I'm the only one who has noticed this?


Richard O' Brien singing "Late Night Double Feature Show"

aka The Theme to The Rocky Horror Picture Show ... complete with snippets of the film's referenced!


Oh, shut up with your "Oh, Gods" or we'll kill you, milk or no milk!

Of all the doddering, old Satanists who lived at the Bramford in New York City back in 1966, my personal favorite was Laura Louise McBirney.

Played by the classic comic actress (and notorious lesbian), Patsy Kelly, Laura Louise was a chunky, blowsy broad who, when she first meets Rosemary (Mia Farrow), and discovers that she's having her period, tells her that during her red letter days, the pain would get so bad that her husband would give her gin that she'd sip through a straw.

Always a class act, Laura Louise seemed to enjoy knitting, standing around naked at Sabbats, and perusing the latest issue of The Reader's Digest (though the print proved so small, she often used a magnifying glass to read).

Also, something of control freak, Laura Louise thought nothing of telling Rosemary off when she discovers that her baby is actually the Anti-Christ and begins crying, "Oh God!" Laura Louise utters one of the greatest lines in movie history when she screams at Rosemary, "Oh, shut up with your "Oh, Gods" or we'll kill you, milk or no milk!"

And of course, who can forget the way she sticks her tongue out at Rosemary when the head of the coven Roman (Sidney Blackmer) tells her to sit down so that the mother can now bond with her child.

Laura Louise McBirney, my kind of witch.