Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Twice The Thrills

(My buddy cole over at Vitagraph, American, is hosting TWICE THE THRILLS, in which he’s asking you, yes you, to program your own ultimate double feature. Do it, and send your link over to Cole, and check out the rest of The Vitagraph while you’re there. It’s one of my favorite newish blogs, Cole himself has a voice and a perspective that are truly original. And it’s always a great read over there.)

It’s a fine line the theoretical programmer must walk. One doesn’t want to be too obvious (Trick R’ Treat and Creepshow? How long did that one take you to dream up? Probably just as long as your Howling American Werewolf in London Double Feature). But sacrifice how well two movies complement each other simply for the sake of unpredictability (Abbot And Costello Meet Frankenstein and Funny Games) and you hurt no one but yourself.

For the opener I’d go with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. A film I’ve been damn near evangelical about since starting Things That Don’t Suck. The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, is perhaps the finest horror film ever made. A relentless intense experience that has never been approached.

Rather then vainly chasing the feel of the original, TCM 2 set itself up as a demented Verhovenesque satire about/example of 80’s excess. The Sawyers have gone Capitalist, and have done a damn fine job of it too.

Only they’re about to get a visit from some divine wrath, personified by Dennis Hopper, as divine wrath rightfully should be.

To me the TCM2 is one of those rare movies that completely successfully blend comedy and horror. Perhaps the most successfully. Switching between scenes as gleefully and playfully gruesome as anything out of the Peter Jackson/Sam Raimi cannon, with scenes as brutal and stomach churningly real as I’ve ever seen in a horror film without one ever countermanding the other.

Not to mention the sight of Dennis Hopper inviting himself to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Marching into the den of madmen singing, "Bringing In The Sheeves" at the top of his lungs, is simply magnificent.

It’s a movie that I’ve actually gotten to see in a large crowd of horror fans, and it played like gangbusters.

So putting it on first, you have to have something that can match up to it. Something that also has a uniquely Tex-Mex flavor to its horror, something that also masters some major tonal shifts, something that also hits the laugh’s and gruesomeness with equal ease.

That’s right we’re talking From Dusk Til Dawn.

Its not a movie without it’s problems, including an ugly rape murder that kicks things off. Given where the movie goes its is just about the definition of unearned. It also features an a key performance by the dread Juliet Lewis, which will always be a substantial minus in my book.

But if I have plenty of problems with From Dusk Til Dawn in part, it’s no match for the exuberance of it as a whole. We’re talking about a movie that contains Cheech Marin’s epic Pussy Speech, Tom Savini with a prosthetic cock gun, Fred Williamson being a bad motherfucker, Selma Hayek’s snake dance, George Clooney as the one White person in the world able to wear a tribal tattoo and not look completely like a stupid asshole, and Harvey Keitel as a badass servant of God.

If that’s not a good night at the movies then I don’t know what is.


stonerphonic said...

DEF a sweet double. i'll bring another double - beer & pizza.


cole roulain said...

hey, bryce. thanks so much for participating! a damn fine pair, i must say. "from dusk 'til dawn" remains one of my favorite B-movie experiences. i think tarantino/rodriguez hit a near-perfect balance of exploitation madness that they have been chasing in one way or another ever since.

for anyone else who is interested here is the original post:


please feel free to play along. and send a link! i'd love to see what you guys choose.

thanks, especially to bryce,

Bryce Wilson said...

@ stonerphonic: Any time!

@ cole: No problem man. This was a great idea and a lot of fun to do. Here's hoping it catches on in the way that it deserves to.

J.D. said...

That double bill works for me! I dig TCM 2 as well. It is giddy fun definitely in the vein of EVIL DEAD 2 - unhinged splatstick with a solid cast of cult film actors.

I also really like FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, which anticipates the RR/QT GRINDHOUSE film by a few years and reverses the split as the first half definitely has a Tarantino feel to it and then once the protagonists make it to the Twitty Twister it becomes a full-on Rodriguez film as he cuts loose with action and gore. Good stuff.

Shawn Robare said...

That's a well thought out double bill for sure. Though I enjoy TCM2, I've always felt that Hooper's tongue was planted so firmly in his cheek that it pokes right through. Personally I have a hard time with how many subtle aspects of the first flick were taken to such blatant levels in the second that it just feels like he's parodying himself. I've also always gotten the feeling that he was more or less forced into making the flick in order to fulfill his contract with Canon (which was based on him making that sequel.) I will say that I love his discovery of Bill Mosley, and the whole idea of making the villains into anti-heroes was great considering the same effect was unintentionally becoming the mainstay with the Friday and Nightmare flicks.

Bryce Wilson said...

@ JD: I agree I'd say it's definitely responsible for kick starting the whole Neo Grindhouse movement.

@ Shawn: I see where you're coming from, and like I said, the original is my favorite horror film. But I think it's easy enough to think of them as separate entities, given the ten year gap.

The first was such an act of alchemy that seems like the only thing you can do is make something that has its own distinct feel to it.

Just look at the dismal Platinum Dunes remakes to see what happens when you try and recapture that mood and fail.