FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Aug 11, 2010

short n' tasty rev-yooo round-up

The Grapes of Death

Liberal pesticide use gives a vineyard's seasonal output an aromatic bouquet of death in Jean Rollin's 1978 beauty. Grapes of Death is a "zombie" flick in line with something like The Crazies- the infected become viciously homicidal, but they don't die first. What really sets the film apart and puts a little meat on its bones, though, is the fact that these killers aren't completely mindless. Unfortunately for both them and their loved ones, the infected experience moments of clarity during which they're completely aware of their urges- and that they can't stop them.

The cinematography is lush and the pace is the variety of languid typical of the era, but Grapes packs a few unexpected shocks as well. The violence is surprisingly brutal and victims don't always die right away, while the gore is plentiful and plenty nauseating- both blood and pus flow liberally. The Grapes of Death is a worthy addition to the zombie(-esque) pantheon, not least because it follows in The Beyond's footsteps by including a hot blind chick.

Phantom of the Mall: Eric's Revenge 

I get the feeling that Phantom of the Mall is one of those love-it-or-hate-it flicks...although I don't understand how anyone in anything resembling a right mind could hate it. In the film's fictional town, Morgan Fairchild is the Mayor. Your Honor, I rest my case.

But you need more. Well, the title tells you the essential plot: it's like Phantom of the Opera, dudes. But it's in a mall. Ah, the mall- now just an inconvenience, it was once- not so long ago, in fact- a place of wonderment and magic. Why, the intrepid heroes of Romero's Dawn of the Dead had never seen a mall before they took refuge in one (I'm not sure if the casting of Ken Foree in Phantom is meant to be a nod to Dawn or not, but I'm going to pretend it is). Phantom of the Mall was released in 1989, a time when a mall was still the place to be, a time when Pauly Shore (who stars as "Buzz") was merely annoying and not Pauly Shore annoying, a time when VHS tapes could cost upwards of $89.99 (as the sticker on my copy indicates), a time when songs over the closing credits featured lyrics about the movie you just watched. The line "Is he the Phantom of the Mall? Or just some retard in a broken hockey mask?" is pure poetry.

Don't worry- Eric is not just some retard in a broken hockey mask! No, he's just a boy who was wronged by greedy developers who burned down his house to make way for THE MALL. Now he lives in the world's largest air ducts and papier-maiche caves, practicing ju-jitsu and making mix tapes for the girl he left behind. I'm telling you: THIS MOVIE IS THE SHIT. I'm sure you agree, and I didn't even tell you that it also features Kelly Rutherford, aka Megan the Hooker with a Heart of Gold from Melrose Place, in an early role as "Salesgirl". The only question that remains is, why doesn't this tape live in my pants?


Oh, Rattlers, I can't help but love you. You're not "good", but who cares? You epitomize the 1976 drive-in experience, and sometimes that's all that really matters to me. You're produced by Sultan of Sleaze Harry "The Child" Novak. You feature a scienceologist and a photogologist engaging in battles of the wits concerning women's lib...before they fall in love and have a romantic night dancing and making out by a fountain in Vegas. You feature amazing toupees, a love theme, whiny divorcées getting offed in the bathtub, long stretches where nothing happens, Army cover-ups, nerve gas...and yes, rattlesnakes- but only a lethargic few, craftily edited to give the appearance of a hostile many. Yes, Rattlers, when I watch you it's like I'm somewhere else entirely- watching a crappy movie under the stars instead of a ceiling.


Sad man said...

I used to love Phantom of the Mall as a kid. Is this the one where they give a girl an ice cream cone with an eyeball instead of a cherry? I really need to re-watch it. It would be a killer double feature along with Chopping Mall.

Thomas Duke said...

Phantom of the Mall is easily Pauly Shore's greatest cinematic achievement. Having said that, I would NEVER buy frozen yogurt from a guy named "Buzz".
"You're name is WHAT?!? Well, I'm going to Orange Julius instead...ASSHOLE!"

Either way, that power ballad is pretty crucial.

Anonymous said...

Rob Estes in the 'Raoul' part is more than enough reason to watch for me... I hadn't gotten through all of it, but I'm gonna try to one of these days...

Although I wonder what the hell Fox is doing with DePalma's redo of "Phantom of the Paradise"...and by God, I hope someone gets Edgar Wright to direct that bitch...

B-Sol said...

Grapes of Death is always on my list of most underrated horror films. I really love it, and I'm glad you gave it a look :-)

Jeffrey said...

I'm a big fan of Grapes of Death too. Does anyone know if the title was a Steinbeck reference in the original French?

Stacie Ponder said...

The only French title I've seen is Le Raisins du Mort, of which Grapes... would be a direct translation. So, I guess, yes!

dementia13 said...

Isn't "Grapes of Wrath" itself a biblical reference? Anyway, "Grapes of Death" is a great title, possibly surpassed only by "Raisins du Mort". Wasn't this the same year as Attack of the Killer Tomatoes? We must have really feared produce in the '70s. Cool, quirky movie: a little slow in parts (by which I mean a lot slow), brutally violent in others. Plus, it has Brigitte Lahaie in a straight acting role, being all evil.