Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A REALLY Bad Hair Day - Exte: Hair Extensions

Okay, we all know that most Japanese horror movies involve scary white-faced ghosts with super-long black hair, right?

Exte: Hair Extensions operates in the pared-down mode: remove the "scary white-faced ghosts" part and just concentrate on the hair.

Yes, kids, this is a movie about....killer hair.

You know when people say "The premise really isn't as stupid as it sounds?"

Well, you can forget that, because this is pretty darn stupid.

Plot, such as it is: the corpse of a brutally tortured and murdered girl has hair that keeps growing and growing and GROWING, its follicles saturated with vengeful malevolent intent.

Creepy psycho morgue attendant harvests said hair and makes hair extensions and wigs out of it and sells it to salons. People wear the extensions. Mayhem ensues.

Plucky heroine hairdresser apprentice, played by Chiaki Kuriyama, who was Takako Chigusa in Battle Royale and GoGo Yubari in Kill Bill Vol. 1, eventually overcomes crazy psycho guy and out-of-control killer weave and lives happily ever after with cute little niece of abusive (and dead) drug addict sister, and with fabulous hair.

If I had directed this movie I would have had amazing samurai battles with combs and scissors and hairspray cans made into flamethrowers. Sadly, this movie makes the colossal mistake of playing it straight.

They don't even go for the awesome idea, which is harnessing the power of the hair, because lord knows there are people I would like to strangle with my hair.

Except for the morgue attendant guy, who IS played for laughs - I think. He comes across like a crazed Sixties hippie version of Mickey Mouse, wearing a floppy fisherman's hat, wacky comic overalls with a heart sewn on the bib, hi-top sneakers, and smiley face buttons.

I mean, how can you possibly make a movie where the murderer is an out-of-control WIG and expect anyone to be scared by it? Cousin Itt was scarier.

Maybe if everyone in the movie had a fauxhawk. THEN I'd be scared.

Mainly at the terrible fashion choice.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Designer Safari Fashion

When I was a youngster, and in fact well into my mid-teens, I got dragged on a lot of camping trips. In the Australian Outback, no less. My dad was a herpetologist and so took the family on his research jaunts. Suffice to say, I developed a great loathing for red sand, potentially dangerous wildlife, tents, sleeping bags, and being anywhere farther away than twenty steps from the nearest flush toilet, running water, comfy bed, or power outlet. Yes, I am a pampered princess of the modern age. I would not survive the apocalypse.

Hence, I have sort of a squeamish fascination with the cannibal-movie genre. On the one hand, ewww, gross, nature and savage beasts will kill you dead and eat your entrails. Not fun, and yuckily uncomfortable to watch.
On the other hand, um, savages will EAT YOUR ENTRAILS!! Blood! Guts! Mutiliation and senseless killings! Yes sirree!

I never claimed not to be perverse.

Anyway, 1979 film Mountain of the Cannibal God (or Slave of the Cannibal God, as it is sometimes known, in its US censored version) is kind of a throwaway in the world of cannibal gutcruncher flicks. Not much happens, really....we've got Stacy Keach playing his usual brooding troubled potentially-psycho character....

...and Ursula Andress wearing too much makeup and getting naked and oiled up to be a cannibal god sacrifice.

Basically the plot is that Ursula and her smarmy obviously villainous brother want Stacy to take them into the wilds of the jungle on a search for Ursula's explorer husband, who has gone missing.
Aha, thinks the viewer, why bother, since he has OBVIOUSLY provided a tasty snack for some island dwellers by now, but Ursula seems pretty insistent (we later learn that it's ALL ABOUT THE MONEY!!), so off they go.

And this is where the whole "expedition into nature" thing becomes my kinda vacation: Ursula gets all done up in designer safari fashion, complete with pristine khaki shorts and knee-high heeled boots. That's right, the boots have HEELS. Perfect for those moments when you need to climb rocky outcroppings, or wade through mud, or go-go dance your way through a native ritual (that last part doesn't actually happen, more's the pity).

Her brother is also a big fan of the Puffy Journalist Vest worn over tight white pants. Yep, white. And they STAY white throughout most of the expedition, to the bitter end. Homeboy's ability to rough it in the jungle and still find a few bottles of OxyClean along the way is pretty impressive.

And while Ursula's severely-pulled back hair and overly dark mascara makes her look like she's gone all Joan Rivers facelift before her time, she does get a pretty good cannibal sacrifice makeover, complete with elaborate seashell headpiece and body oil, at the end.
All that's missing is the Raquel Welch leather bikini.

I could get behind a safari expedition if I got to wear completely impractical clothing and maybe get carried around on a palanquin the whole time. And if there was running water, and feather beds, and gourmet food, and uh, no cannibals.

Monday, March 2, 2009

When 80s Nostalgia Goes Horribly Wrong

Greetings, readers. I was going to regale you with the wonders of movies about killer hair, but then I got sidetracked by this little number from 1981.

I have no idea why I put this on my Netflix queue. Maybe because it was one of the few 80s campground-slasher flicks I DIDN'T see during my admittedly twisted childhood. Maybe because I wanted to see what Jason Alexander looked like with hair. Maybe I am simply masochistic. Either way, I asked for this, so I deserved what I got.

The story here is....oh good grief, do you even need to know?

Mean kids at summer camp play prank on drunken caretaker, Cropsy (great name, by the way) who accidentally sets himself on fire as a result.

Five years later, horribly burned caretaker takes a pair of hedge-clippers to a new batch of sex-crazed campers. Eye-scorchingly red arterial bloodspray and lots of senseless screaming ensue. Not to mention that the entire cast has the thickest Noo Yawk Welcome Back Kotter accents that you have ever heard.

To amuse myself, I checked the Wikipedia entry on this. Wow. Whoever wrote the plot summary is a stickler for detail. Excruciating detail. So excruciating, in fact, that I think the writer saw a LOT more in the movie than I did. Like, stuff that wasn't even HINTED at. I guess all bad horror has its slavering fans.

Anyway, The Burning is largely notable for the screen debuts of Holly Hunter (blink and you will miss her), and, as I said before, a very young Jason Alexander (with hair)....

.....Jason Alexander really never DID play any other character than George Costanza in his life, did he?

They also got the nerdy guy from Fast Times At Ridgemont High. Here, he plays....a nerd.

Oh yes, and as is customary with movies of this era, they have a jive-talking hospital orderly. I hitherto decree that like turban-wearing swamis, and cameos by Udo Kier, and bad hair-metal bands playing the same song endlessly on Night Train(s) To Terror, every movie needs a jive-talking hospital orderly expounding endlessly on how the drunken caretaker got turned into Chili-Mac.

Let's move on, shall we?

Now, I should mention that I LOVE the 80s. I love the music. I even love the bizarro, weirdly shaped, completely unflattering fashion aesthetic. Hell, I wore the legwarmers and the Flashdance sweatshirts and the Madonna rubber jewellery and fluorescent accessories. But I also want to point out that when I think of the 80s, I'm thinking mid-to-late decade, like, Square Pegs hipster new-wave era. (NOTE: Please remember that I grew up in Australia and we were a couple years behind the American trends. Also remember that I am old and cannot remember exact years of any previous decade to this one.)

I am most certainly not thinking of 1981, which apparently was the year of Richard Simmons/Steve Guttenberg from Can't Stop The Music fashion. Y'know, racing stripe short-shorts and tube socks worn to the knee.

Who am I kidding? That Steve Guttenberg outfit is FABULOUS. No one in The Burning is that fabulous. This film has a dearth of fab. It is in Fab Recession. In actual point of fact, the HAIRCUTS in this movie are more frightening than the shears-wielding lunatic. Cropsy could give them better haircuts with his hedge-clippers. Geez.

Okay, so I would be remiss in mentioning that there is ONE instance of a smart move, clothing-wise, in this flick, performed by none other than actress Carolyn Houlihan - have you ever heard of her? - didn't think so, because if you Google her you discover her ONE claim to fame is that she appears full-frontally nude in this movie. (Sorry, no photo. I know you are disappointed.)

Anyway, after blitzing our bimbo-radar by running around in low-slung bikini bottoms and T-shirts, and giving us all the urge to bitchslap her silly with her whining, ol' Carolyn emerges from a skinny-dip to find her clothing gone. Before she goes in search of it, she puts her shoes on. I mean, she's walking around a forest entirely nekkid but for her shoes for awhile, which is not exactly weapons-grade killer-proofing, but still, good girl.

The moral of The Burning: Summer camp is nothing but an extended term of sex, sex, having your fingers chopped off by crazed revenge-seeking madmen, hanging with people who have really bad haircuts, more sex, and maybe some singalongs.

Come to think of it, this would have been improved with some singalongs.