A Pause for a Number of Things

Hopefully, you’ve been enjoying my time-misplaced Hubrisween entries. It’s been a nice guide for my writing, a sort of kick in the pants it often needs. My scarcity this week has several causes: work, Life’s Rich Pageant (also known as crap that’s boring if you’re not sitting in my skin), and what is probably the worst side effect of the many times I’ve done Hubrisween: I’m starting to get tired of horror.

That is not a state I wish to be in; look at my dang collection, or my Plex server, and you are either going to think “What the hell is wrong with you” or “How did it take you so long to get tired of this?” The responses range from “You knew I was fucked up when you came in the door” to “I’m not really tired of it, I’m just bored.”

Hang around for a few paragraphs, you might get better answers.

“Now then, tell me about your childhood.”

For reasons I’ve already gone into, it was a pretty light Christmas this year, but there were some nice presents; my brother replaced my old blu-ray player with a region-free one (I think that’s a good thing) and my Mom asked if I wanted this old flatscreen they had replaced with a larger model. There was an old TV in my bedroom, which, oddly enough, my parents had given me waaaaaaay back when my son was a baby so he could watch Teletubby videos over and over again. It was analog, and one of two VHS players left in the house.

My wife requires the TV playing to get to sleep. She is not alone in this, I know, it’s not like it’s a unique quirk. I always came to bed after she had gone to sleep. so turning off that TV was a nightly ritual. Then a few years back she moved from the master bedroom to the guest bedroom, because we are both snorapotamusses. We sleep much better now, and she got a TV with a sleep timer.

God damn it, I miss you.

Anyway, since Craig Ferguson went off the air, I have no need for late night TV.

So I would retire to my suddenly too-large bed and read or something until sleep came down. But this TV opened up something of a new paradigm for me. I mentioned my wife’s need of the TV to sleep because I’m the exact opposite; it’s like when I complained to my friend that I didn’t have time to watch all the movies I’d like and he responded “Just put it on in the background while you do other stuff.” I can’t do that. I’m not wired that way. When media talks to me, I listen. I give it my attention. Using it as a sleep aid is a non-starter.

But. I have a new tool! Surely I can do something with it!

Yes, I’ve seen movies that start like this, too.

What happened actually surprised me.

oh, one of these days you’re going to get yours, bitch

I set up the TV, attached my old blu-ray and an older Roku I had replaced on my main movie-watching screen, which is in my home office (and glowering behind me as I type this, fuming about that new little hussy in my bedroom, no doubt). Then I pulled some discs I had been meaning to watch but were low-priority, like Death Machines, which I had intended to watch since seeing the TV advertising blitz for it in the 70s. It’s low-priority because I also know how those movies played out once you were in the theater (Super Infra-Man notwithstanding). Or something episodic like Ultra-Q.

And I pulled out a box I had bought at a Vinegar Syndrome sale because Its allure was really too strong: All Night at the Bizarre Art Theater. With Vinegar Syndrome, you know it’s going to be something with strong cult vibes, or smut. This is smut.

Consider that your trigger warning.

It’s the second in a series apparently, and I’m going to let VS’ own PR department lay it out:

Throughout the early to mid 1970s, the most common way to see underground feature films was to visit a ‘storefront theatre.’ Sometimes referred to as ‘mini-theatres’ or ‘shoebox theatres,’ these small venues were often converted retail stores armed with nothing more than a couple projectors and nailed down folding chairs. And, unlike larger houses like the Pussycat chain, the films screened in these small and cozy spaces were low-budget 16mm efforts, affectionately known as one-day-wonders.

Hundreds of these theatres dotted the American landscape, and with them, the most truly independent and underground filmmakers found a place to exhibit their work.

“Truly independent and underground filmmakers” is doing a lot of heavy lifting there, but it speaks to me on a level that approximates my current interest in the no-budget genre movies of folks like the Polonia Brothers or whoever thought it would be a good idea to make a found footage movie this week. Not that any of those worthies produced skin flicks.

This second volume houses 12 features with a decidedly ghoulish flavor, which I admit is what attracted my attention. Hey, it’s horror-adjacent smut!

Witnesses a sex-crazed scientist unleash his pent up desires in DR. SEXUAL AND MR. HYDE! See Satan send his sons to earth to collect beautiful women for devilish orgies in HOTTER THAN HELL! Stare in terror as a masked killer murders nubile starlets in COME DEADLY! Explore the agony of the shocking sex rituals performed by the RITES OF URANUS! Shiver in fear as a group of unsuspecting friends enter the HOUSE OF DE SADE! Gasp in suspense as a knife-wielding killer preys on an all girls boarding school MANIA!

These films, plus 6 more tales of ghosts, goblins, fiendish killers, and even Bigfoot, are all here to scare your pants off, and plunge you into a cinematic bacchanale straight from hell!

Pornography is itself deadly dull, but I have to admit these filmmakers with a perverse desire to overlay incredibly risible plots between episodes of genitalia-bumping offers its own entertainment value. You’ve still got the flatly-lit clinical close-ups (some of which have been so clinical that I can see modern porn makers gasping “gaaaaaah WHY?!?!”), money shots and extremely regressive sexual politics, but there’s also an unspoken desire to do more than present bump-and-grind gymnastics. There’s at least one sex act I had thought only existed in hand-drawn illustrations for the Kama Sutra, but there it is, and man does it look uncomfortable.

“Oi! what are we doin’ on this page?”

But there’s also stuff like Dr. Sexual and Mr. Hyde that tries to look like a period piece, only to have it all undone by the female lead’s peace symbol earrings. I live for stuff like that. Also for details like the music for House of DeSade is ripped-off Pink Floyd, and it’s weird Floyd, like “Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered in a Cave and Grooving With a Pict” weird and “Be Careful With That Axe, Eugene” weird. And let’s not forget “Tubular Bells” in Sorceress. Which was probably going on during that uncomfortable sex scene I mentioned earlier.

This will also probably be my only chance ever to mention the “If-It’s-Good-Enough-For-Kubrick-It’s-Good-Enough-For-Me” use of “The Blue Danube” for Waltz of the Bat – which I will also say has the audacity to attempt art in its closing seconds with The 1812 Overture and goddammit succeeds.

I will say this – although I’m only through two-thirds of this masturbatory madness, I have to say that a) I don’t have to worry about losing the “plot” during my piecemeal viewing, and b) my sleep has been unusually peaceful, because the period between switching off the TV and actually nodding off has not been preoccupied with the antics of the multiple chucklefucks who currently feel they control our world.

That has been priceless.

1 Comment

  1. Must be an aging thing (he noted, while aging), but we seem to be sharing the same boat on a timeshare, at that. Eh, it’ll get get sorted.

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