Sunday, November 15, 2015

Cinematic Pieces of Sheets (Part 2): Bimbos B.C. and Madhouse

The next movie in my Todd Sheets-A-Thon is Bimbos BC. I think I was still clinging to chronology, otherwise I would have watched one of the other 2 Sheets movies that were on the same disk as Goblin. I actually had to change disks to get to this one.

This time I came prepared with alcohol, or “Sheets juice” as I decided to call it.

This one opens with a woman dressed in homemade cave-wear being stalked through a forest by a really big sock puppet. A struggle ensues and the puppet-bird-costume thing bites her and runs off, apparently satiated by the chunk of rubber skin it pulled off her. At least the blood is red...ish in this one.

This begat the credit interspliced scene of women walking through a field donned in period costumes which included rawhide, no wait..., my mistake-- brown fabric cut in strips to simulate rawhide draped and fastened across whatever street clothes they thought they could get away with without committing an anachronism. My friend who would be enduring this wreck along with me immediately noticed a wrist watch and a highway with traffic in the background. And a metal fence. The question was posed: Just how much imagination are we going to have to bring to this movie?”

Now, I like to give credit where due, and also admit when I'm wrong, so I have to say, as the movie progressed we discovered we'd been mistaken about the setting. Turns out this is a post-apocalyptic movie set in the future. So bluejeans with glued on strips of hide from a skinned teddy bear are acceptable, and technology such as wrist watches and automobiles were in absolutely no violation of the movies time-line whatsoever. You see, with B.C. being in the title and all, it's understandable how we could have jumped to conclusions. Sorry movie, I had you wrong. But don't worry, we would still have to bring plenty of imagination to this thing.

Due to its disjointedness and a little more “Sheets juice” than I had intended, the plot was a challenge to keep up with. Or to slow my pace enough to avoid leaving it behind. Or something. We're after the apocalypse where scientists (those conniving villains!) had unleashed some toxin or disease or something that made people turn into prehistoric monsters and zombies. I don't know why the women were walking through a field for so long, nor do I remember at what point they found their injured comrade, but somehow they end up in at their base. I don't know what this building was supposed to be, but it for all the world bore the appearance of a closed for the season elementary school. We're introduced to a no-longer-evil-scientist who's atoning for causing the destruction of civilization and the death of billions of people by helping the Bimbos and providing exposition. Here we learn that the woman who'd endured the shitty bird costume attack would rot from the inside out if the Bimbos didn't journey to Armageddon City (yes, really) where The Evil Scientists had gone into hiding in a subterranean, fortified, luxurious bunker (which, as we'd soon learn, was apparently located in the library at the other end of the same closed for the season elementary school that the Bimbos were holed up).

Our villain, who's name I forgot because who the fuck cares, couldn't have been asked to grow an actual villainous beard, so they colored one on him. I'm not kidding. They drew a fucking bad-guy beard on his face with magic marker. 

The screenshot doesn't do his luxurious Crayola marker beard justice.  Trust me, it's stunning.

And of course, Todd Sheets is there playing one of the lackeys. The head lackey, though. I don't know what the villains want exactly... something about armor with exposed groins so the acid rain will eat away at people's genitals as a means of population control? I was a little wobbly by this point.

It's also important to note that even with all of civilization and infrastructure wiped out by the apocalypse, and despite the danger posed by all those murderous mutants wandering around, someone still found the time and means to make sure all the lawns were mowed. And the trains were still running it seemed, as we discovered when one scenes dialogue was completely drowned out by a long locomotive whistle. Like, why didn't they wait for the thing to pass and then do the scene? How much longer could that have possibly taken? Or just shoot somewhere else maybe if there were just too many trains and whistles to get the scene in? I don't know, not my artistic vision.

There were zombie attacks that were unnecessarily long and poorly choreographed with everyone just sort of running around and stepping around each other awkwardly to try and avoid actually hurting or tripping over each other, bad gore effects with more digging around in meat by-products, and probably an epic fight scene between the bad guy with the colored on beard and the Bimbos. I really don't remember. Then there was the end and the bad guy was dispatched (I think there was a kitchen-- either that or I was in the kitchen looking for more booze), and his lackeys were all happy and wanted to join the Bimbos, who insisted they weren't called Bimbos but Warriors or something.

And then cue credits and the Bimbos B.C. song by Todd's band, Enocian Key. I've neglected to mention the band, which is an inexcusable oversight seeing as how they provide the music for all his films--- well, all the music they haven't re-purposed from other b-movies, such as this one song that's in almost all his movies and I've heard somewhere before and can't place and it's driving me insane! 

It's not from The Lurkers, Demonic Toys, The Funhouse... I've seriously gone checking through the last several horror movies I've watched over the summer and I cannot fucking figure out where I've heard this originally, so if anyone recognizes it (yeah, right... like anyone reads this), please, for the love of god and all that's holy, tell me what it's from! Please. It's bugging the hell outta me!

Anyway, I really can't say anything too bad about Todd's band. If I were still really into heavy metal, I'd probably like it okay. They're no Judas Priest, but neither are... anyone other than Judas Priest I suppose... Anyway, they're not the most horrible thing ever. I mean, they're at least on par with Thor.

The music and low audio quality aren't the only things all of Sheets' movies have in common. I've come to recognize the same cast from film to film with some additions and some subtractions. Jenny Admire, Bobby Westrik, Mike Hellman, Veronica Orr, Charles Gooseman, Amber Westbrook, Tonia Monahan, etc... They're recurring participants who not only act in the films, but in many cases are credited with various production jobs, such as lighting, make-up, and “sound” as well. They must really have a lot of fun, which makes me feel kind of warm and fuzzy, which --being a strange and foreign feeling-- makes me feel as if I might throw up. But in a happy way!

We still had some time after our first feature. Sadly there was no more Sheets juice, but we still had plenty of imagination! Which was a damned good thing as I was starting to sober up.

So we decided to watch Madhouse, or Edgar Allan Poe's Madhouse. This is an anthology of four stories, and I still have no idea which story was supposed to be a Poe adaptation (due to my unfamiliarity with his work, not due to any mishandling by Sheets of the source material). The man himself, our humble director Mr. Sheets sits there holding a book and wearing a cape while he introduces each story, forgetting to actually name the title of first one which “has to do with vampires.” This was much better than the Goblin thing. There was decent lighting, sets, the performance from his group of regulars was a bit better. There was even fog! You still couldn't really hear shit, but you can't have everything. It was almost like a real bad movie. I was impressed.

Our second story is about a werewolf... again, much better, twist ending which was somewhat expected, but not badly pulled off. Short, sweet, not terrible.

And then our third story, Dead Things-- if I heard him state the title correctly, is about murderously territorial hillbillies. This one seems to have been filmed a few years earlier than the other two stories, contained a different cast, and was actually somewhat impressive. A group of people are hiking, and stubbornly insist they have to walk through this pissed-off redneck's property even though he's pointing a shotgun at them while his spaz devil-spawn son hops around and yells at the group and pokes at people with a stick. The kids in this, both on the hiker's side and the redneck's son put on a pretty good show, playing their characters with a good amount of passion and believability, delivering dialogue that sounds like stuff people actually say in a way that doesn't come off like they're just delivering lines. I'm guessing there wasn't a script for them to trip over and they were improvising. Two in particular, the boy playing a socially awkward compulsive liar and the boy playing the hillbilly's hyperactive son came off as very genuine. They singly put on the best fight/murder scene I've watched in any of these films. It, and the scene where the hillbilly catches and cuts a kid's leg off, was genuinely unsettling. The adults' acting doesn't fare quite as well, with them occasionally talking over each other and repeating themselves --which you could argue gives it more of a sense of realism, but they made a fair enough effort.

One thing that's interesting to note about this segment is it was shot in full daylight, which I think made it more effective. His other films fought with lighting issues, which didn't enhance either dread or terror, rather creating confusion which segued into disinterest. I like horror scenes that happen during the day because, in a way, it makes it so much more dreadful, proclaiming a simple message: you aren't even safe in the light-- because we aren't.

Inexplicably our host is abruptly swapped for a more homely and modestly dressed version of Elvira, which I guess is no version of Elvira, whose cauldron stirring is interrupted in order to introduce the final segment. Here we have more footage recorded some time before the rest of the film, again with different actors than the usual cast. This time they're in an abandoned (but again, well landscaped) town infested with zombies. They run around and get picked off. There's a decent shot where a kid in in a screened-in structure surrounded by zombies trying to figure out how to get in. My favorite part was when the last survivor climbs on top of some bridge structure as if she desperately needs to get to the other side, all the while it being plainly visible that it would have been much easier for her to have just walked under or around the thing. They just really wanted a magnificent attack/death scene on that bridge, dammit. What they made was a comically anti-climactic zombie attack scene where the zombie was plainly visible, jumps out as if it had been concealed. Nonetheless, the surprised reaction from the victim showed a good effort to work with what they had.

Madhouse was alright. I'd even recommend it to those who love awful movies.

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