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COMMODIFICATION OF CULTDOM

August 18, 2009

I’ve got the post work ‘do’ fatigue, so my blog game is weak today. Still, with Quentin’s new opus set to drop, I was pondering just how overlooked ‘Grindouse’ is in its three hour plus cut…mock-trailers play their part there, and Edgar Wright’s ‘Don’t’ is still my number one. Growing up, I was the one hollering at anyone who dared hit the fast forward during trailers prior to a birthday sleepover video viewing. Especially if it was a Vestron or Medusa release – optimum exposure to madcap gems with those logos on the VHS spine fo’ sho’.

If you haven’t already paid it a visit, ‘Trailers From Hell’ is some top five dead-or-alive website of all time action for the geeks out there. If the idea of Larry Cohen offering a commentary over the trailer for his own ‘God Told Me To’, Josh Olson talking over ‘Race With The Devil’s publicity materials, Eli Roth on ‘Star Crash’ or Edgar talking about his source material for mock trailering – ‘Twitch Of The Death Nerve’. And if that doesn’t excite you, you have my pity whether you want it or not.

Larry is the man. To see a remake of ‘It Lives’ is on the horizon is just depressing. Mr. Cohen was an ideas factory. Just check his IMDB resume – ‘Q’, ‘Maniac Cop’ and ‘Best Seller’ are great, but his willingness to make bizarro sequels to franchaises like ‘It’s Alive 3 – Island Of The Alive’ steeped in low budget, high concept allegory is to be applauded. Even ‘Return To Salem’s Lot’ – fairly slow, bordering on tranquilized, and not a patch on Tobe Hooper’s original made-for-TV masterpiece, is so different (starring Larry’s favourite lead, Michael Moriarty) it simply can’t be written off. After fixating on the gore and madness on the back of ‘The Stuff’ video, I anticipated a ‘The Blob’ style splatterfest, not a satire on consumerism. And at nine years old, I wasn’t too appreciative either.

Nowadays, ‘cult’ is hurled around left, right and centre, to the point where cultdom has become a tag for a moderate to large thinking audience with a taste for the offbeat. I preferred it when it was a prefix to love-it-or-hate-it weirdness.

The tv-spots for all three ‘It’s Alive’ films still scare me as much as they did when I saw that pram artwork on the store shelves…


After my talk of youthful NYC fears last week, I blame the deeply un-PC ‘yuppie nightmare’ innercity takes on the ‘Deliverance’/’Southern Comfort’ format – like ‘After Hours’ but with flick knives, gangs and a lower IQ…’Chains’ from ’89 was cool, ‘Survive The Hunt’ from ’93 was entertaining and ‘Judgment Night’ from the same year was pretty poor, never living up to the five or six great tracks on the rap/rock soundtrack…Ari getting chucked out a window was serious though.

The gist? Middle classers get lost en route from something sufficiently middle class (musical/night at the opera/good seats at the ice hockey) take a wrong turn and are menaced by ghetto dwelling gangs. 1987′s ‘Enemy Territory’ is the best though – a kind of ‘Assault On Precinct 13′ lite, insurance man goes to a project building (“Harlem – AFTER DARK!“) and is menaced by a quasi-vampiric Tony Todd and his gang, feuding with the ‘El Mortes’ crew, and is helped by a young Stacy Dash, in a bizarre casting choice, Ray Parker Jr. and a mental Jan-Michael Vincent. Chico Garcia did the graffiti too. Comically, the trailer seems more fixated with the percieved coup of casting Ray than the film’s other strengths for some reason, but as b-flicks go, I love it.

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