Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Cat With Hands (2001)

Last night, as I slumbered, I had a strange dream
One that seemed to bring distant friends near
I dreamt of the faces of people I loved
And I awoke with an 'eart full of cheer

Recently, my paws came upon* the spine-tingling short, THE CAT WITH HANDS, and the brilliantly-realized nightmare world created therein continues to haunt my unguarded moments. Part live-action exchange between a rot-mouthed old man and his young assistant on the dreary, English countryside, and part sumptuous, animated feast of imagined terror, the film lends a macabre, new meaning to the old adage about cats and tongues. You know the one...

This time, you can not count on me to give it all away, other than to say that this film is a real dark chocolate treat for the senses, although super-short at just over 3 minutes long. Creator Robert Morgan apparently snatched the idea from a recurring dream that plagued his sister: "a cat with human hands chased her and some friends around a graveyard. When it touched them, with those hands, the girls turned into spastics."**

Make sure the window is cracked enough to admit the scent of burning leaves, grab your favourite afghan from the closet, and enjoy this visually stunning, Poe-flavoured morsel!

5/5 Kitty Skulls ... Pick of the litter!

* Thanks, Karswell
* Source: No fat clips!!!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Linnea Quigley's Horror Workout (1990)

Caution: Video Spoilers Galore

How prepared are you to handle a hostile zombie takeover? Can you ride a bicycle, lying on the floor, with your legs jacked up over your head? Could your hips, buns, belly, and thighs stand a little aerobicization? Have no fear, LINNEA QUIGLEY'S HORROR WORKOUT is here!!! The Scream Queen and Hardbody Extraordinaire woke up at the crack of 1990 to bring you this spookier, sexier version of the home fitness video. Whether you are looking to work your entire body, or merely your wrist, Linnea and her enthusiastic team of zombies and slumber party sluts are sure to get your heart rate up, and your blood pumping!

After opening with a steamy, pre-workout shower scene, the brassy blonde dons a pair of fishnet stockings, high-heeled boots, and a metal-plated bra n' panty set before getting down on all fours to communicate a little of her body language. The background music is terrible, but serves its purpose in getting a nice, little beat going for Ms. Q to gyrate to. For those who choose to participate in the activity, you'll know that you're doing it right when you get to the lingering ass shots!

Upon completion of her floor exercises, Linnea decides to go for a jog through the cemetary. When a gaggle of flabby zombies follows her home, she leads them in a poolside aerobic routine which is sure to whip them into shape! The terrible background music returns, but it's surprising how well the dilapidated freaks move to it!

Poolside Zombies (YouTube Clip)

After a long day of working out, Linnea is finally ready to kick back at home with a bunch of buxom, scantily-clad hussies she's invited over for a slumber party. This sequence was a little on the long side, and regrettably uneventful up until the last few minutes. Kitty's advice to viewers: wait for the pelvic thrusts, they are soooo worth it. Further, the more satin-covered crotch they cram onto the screen in each frame, the better the limp-wristed guitarfluff background music seems to sound! By the end of the dry-air-humping sequence, you'll be scouring eBay for your very own copy of the soundtrack!

Slumber Party Sluts Spread 4 U (YouTubeClip)

LINNEA QUIGLEY'S HORROR WORKOUT is not rocket science; it's a thinly-veiled excuse for one of the hottest bodies in horror to do what she does best: wear as little as possible in order to maintain her seat in the House of Scream Queens. Linnea's voiceovers are funny, but poorly-executed, and it's clear that she won't be successfully acting her way out of a wet paper bag any time soon, but all of this is really quite irrelevant. HORROR WORKOUT takes two prominent staples from my 1980s upbringing, and combines them in a way that is both fun and unique. And, when Linnea Quigley says "Jump!" the only appropriate response is "Let me get my lube!"

Unfortunately, I can't speak to the efficacy of the actual workout, as my metal-plated bra is in the shop.

3/5 Kitty Skulls: Wait for this one to hit the Bargain Bin (and don't forget the lube!)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Entity (1981)

Caution: Spoilers Galore

Carlotta Moran (played by Barbara Hershey) is a young, single mother trying to give her children a decent upbringing. The stylish brunette is shown leaving her clerical day job to attend typing school at night. She returns home to her two young girls (Natasha Ryan* and Melanie Gaffin), already asleep in their little beds, and finds her older son, Billy (David Labiosa), tinkering around in the garage. The close relationship between mother and son is instantly palpable: the way Carlotta speaks to Billy in such a relaxed and easy manner; the way she looks at him with such tender emotion in her eyes; and the way she sensuously caresses the back of his neck with her long, sinuous fingers… Waitaminnit -- neither of my parents ever touched me like that! If they had, I would have turned them in to Children's Aid.

Carlotta (Carla to her friends) leaves Billy in the garage, and enters her bedroom. Her head is suddenly thrown backward by some unseen force, leaving her mouth bloodied and her eyes wet. Her entire body is then heaved upward, and thrown down onto the bed. A pillow is pressed against her face to muffle the sounds of her screaming, as she is hammered into the mattress, over and over again, as though she were being raped. The musical score is urgent, and overbearing, while the camera settles in on Carlotta’s headboard rhythmically pounding the wall. The lamp shakes on the nightstand before finally falling over. Then silence returns, the pounding stops, and Carlotta screams hysterically on the bed.

The children come running to their mothers’ aid, and Carlotta orders Billy to look about the room, and then the entire house, for the person who had just attacked her. When the boy returns to report that nobody was, or could have been, inside with them, Carlotta’s terror mingles with confusion. Could a bad dream really leave you feeling sore?

The following night, Carlotta is visibly on edge, as though she is waiting for something to happen. She picks up a book, feigning interest in it while she stretches out across her bed. A small tremor shakes the nightstand. A larger tremor shakes the bureau across from the bed. Soon, everything in the room is pulsating violently, coloured glass bottles of perfume are exploding, and Carlotta doesn’t wait around to see what else might happen. She flees from the room, scoops up her children, and loads them into the car. They spend the night with her friend, Cindy (Margaret Blye), and her bellyaching husband, George (Michael Alldredge), but young Billy does not seem convinced that their house is unsafe. The next morning, when Carlotta finally gets around to telling Cindy what had driven them out of their house, she receives even less emotional support.

“Carla, you’re one of the most stable people I know,
and you are definitely not insane. But when men who
aren’t actually there come into your room and have
intercourse with you, then it is time to see
a good psychiatrist.”

Carla returns to her house reluctantly with the children. She begins preparing for another night of terror when Cindy pops in to spend the night. Such a ray of sunshine, that Cindy! And not afraid to speak her mind when it comes to what Carla ought to be doing with her life.

After spending a quiet and uneventful night in the house with Cindy, Carlotta heads off to work feeling refreshed. She is fiddling with the radio dials when her vehicle lurches forward, and proceeds to drive maniacally of its own volition! Shrieking, Carla wrenches the steering wheel, and stomps on the brake, but it’s of no use: she is the proud owner of Josephine, Christine’s half-sister! Narrowly avoiding oncoming traffic (both vehicular and pedestrian), Carla’s highway ordeal finally comes to an end when she wraps Josephine around a telephone pole. She is not physically harmed in the accident, but her eggshell psyche has clearly taken another sharp uppercut.

In the next scene, Carlotta is shown looking beaten, like a victim of spousal abuse, as she awaits psychiatric assessment by Dr. Phil Sniderman (Ron Silver). She recounts the whole of her strange, sordid tale to him, and he plays the typical, patronizing Psychiatrist. She submits to some very “routine,” and very “boring” psychological testing, and returns to her house of horrors by taxi cab. Night has already fallen.

Carla is brutally raped by the unseen entity again that evening. She turns up the next day in Dr. Sniderman’s office presenting the markings of a violent attack, hoping to finally validate her sanity with physical evidence. Sniderman is unmoved. He offers her the consolation that crazy people sometimes do crazy things to their bodies, and also some tranquilizers. He insists that there is something preying upon her from within her mind, not her house, and invites her to join him in a drawn-out, difficult exploration of her past. At this point, Carla feels she hasn’t much choice but to accept his invitation. Sniderman’s colleagues are even less inclined to believe that there is anything strange going on, besides in Carla’s mind.

“She’s masturbating. This entire circus, she’s invented
it to cover up what every little girl does.”

In spite of Carla’s willingness to openly submit to all of Sniderman’s evaluations, the attacks on her body continue. She awakens in the night to find herself in the midst of an orgasm while invisible hands tenderly fondle her. Carla once again seeks refuge at her friend Cindy’s apartment. To her immense relief, Cindy and George witness their house being torn apart by the unseen demon that has been terrorizing Carla. The next day, she and Cindy set out to do some important shopping at their Friendly Neighbourhood Occult Book Section, and Carla meets a couple of nerdy parapsychology students there by happenstance. She brings them back to her house for an investigation.

Just when the parageeks are about to recommend Carla seek psychiatric help, and leave her to her crazy delusions, an unsettling tremor shakes the kitchen where they all stand. Carla feels ever so vilified when they decide to set up shop for the night, adorning her bedroom with a complex array of scientific gadgetry. Somewhere in the darkness of the early morning hours, Carla and the scientists are awakened by an electrical disturbance. At last, the entity that has been tormenting Carla has been captured on film! The parageeks cream in their pocket protectors.

“The entity” appears weakened somehow by the presence of the scientists, and the young family is finally able to get some respite under the watchful eyes of the cameras. Things almost seem to be returning to normal when Carla’s boyfriend, Jerry (Alex Rocco), returns home from an extended business trip. She does her best to explain away the presence of the scientists, but Jerry doesn’t seem to place much stock in what she tells him, until he follows her into the bedroom for a game of Hide the Weiner. To his dumbfounded amazement, she is already lying on the bed, playing it with some invisible d00d! Jerry lashes out in futility, busting a wooden chair over the phantom rapists’ back, rendering poor Carla unconscious in the process.

She is taken immediately to the hospital. Desperate times call for desperate measures. She agrees to a dangerous experiment, designed to physically capture the powerful force of her unseen attacker.

“I’ve always believed that there were several planes of
existence, distinct, and separate, and we as human beings
inhabit only one.”

Led by Dr. Elizabeth Cooley (Jacqueline Brookes), the parageeks build a replica of Carla’s home within a controlled setting. The intention is to freeze the bastard entity in liquid helium, using Carla as a decoy. She is assured her perfect and complete safety, in the form of a double-paned, triple-ultra-mega heat-sealed something-or-other glass “protection area.”

Sniderman is, of course, seething with rage when he learns about what those parapsych charlatans have cooked up for his patient. His beautiful, fractured, helpless, sensuous patient… Methinks the bearded headshrinker hath fallen in love with Mrs. Moran! He makes it his personal mission to interfere with Dr. Cooley’s work, and seeks the counsel of his mentor, Dr. Weber (George Coe). Together, they try to put a stop to Cooley’s “potentially lethal” experiment, but it’s of no use. The environmental simulation proceeds, and Carla Moran is left to dwell in her laboratory home, while dozens of anxious onlookers observe her every movement.

Finally, the entity comes for her…

Something is wrong: the hi-tech super computers start going haywire, and the massive liquid helium zapper gun comes to life on its own above Carla. The bastard entity is trying to kill her! Carla darts frantically from room to room as the contraption fires off round after round of deadly helium mere inches from her lovely face. The “protective area” the scientists constructed for her shatters under the force of a good blast. Carla must face her demon alone. Bravely, she confronts that which torments her. All look on in horror as the helium tanks erupt.

Sniderman swings in heroically, like a mighty Tarzan moving gracefully on a vine, and rescues Carla in the proverbial nick of time. Glancing back at the ruptured habitat, they stare wide-eyed at the hulking, incredible mass which has been frozen in its tracks. The physical manifestation of the entity is witnessed by dozens of astonished scientists before the giant ice block shatters, and an ominous-looking mist washes over Carla and Dr. Sniderman.

Carla returns home, to the place that she has come to fear so intensely. It seems much less sinister in the daylight, as is the case with most haunted places. She moves with trepidation from room to room, as though waiting for the thing to announce its continued presence in her life.

The front door slams shut. A low, unearthly voice groans: “Cunt.”

The Entity, directed by Sidney J. Furie (Iron Eagle, Superman 4), is a reasonable adaptation of Frank De Felitta’s chilling novel of the same title. In the tradition of The Exorcist, The Entity’s screenplay is stripped of much of the psychobabble found within the novel. Both William Friedken, and Sidney J. Furie, in their directorial wisdom, coax the viewer into identifying with the victims’ version of events, rather than with the scientific theories presented. The psychiatrists are seen as cold, unfeeling clinicians in their attempts to help Carlotta, while the team of parapsychologists are presented as heroic, perhaps even angelic beings. The intense, deeply-personal explorations of Carla’s troubled psyche remain, for the most part, confined to the pages of De Felitta’s novel, while “the entity” is left to wreak havoc on the screen, unhindered by psychoanalytical mumbo jumbo.

The novel also features a more detailed, intimate account of the twisted courtship that took place between Carla Moran and the entity, which literally chilled my flesh as I tore hungrily through the chapters.

All the players do a commendable job in keeping the tension factor up, while maintaining a remarkably low level of overall cornography. The victims in this film are easy to relate to; especially Barbara Hershey’s taut, convincing portrayal of a desperate, young woman hunted nightly by a vicious attacker she cannot see. In addition to her formidable talent as an actress, the classic lines of her striking, nude body are not to be overlooked, as the leading lady is overpowered by invisible hands in various stages of undress.

A solid, supernatural thriller!! Hideo Nakata is apparently slated to re-make, and re-release the film in 2010. Lord of Horror, please deliver us from CGI titty-grabbing!

4/5 Kitty Skulls = Video Cocaine!

* Those who watch closely will recognize Natasha Ryan (who played Carla’s daughter, Julie) as Amy, the little girl who was taunted by the pig-faced apparition “Jody” in The Amityville Horror.