Saturday, January 13, 2018

Troll 2 (Italy/USA, 1990)

Preamble: Regular readers of A Wasted Life (assuming there are any) might already know, from the 18 July 2017 blog entry Shameless Self-Promotion, that this blog's meat-eating and lard-loving [only] contributor also writes for Hermann's, a visionary undertaking aimed at changing the food system and the way we feed ourselves. A shift in the editorial policy of the undertaking's web presence, which now aims at innovators and the industry, has seen our offbeat entertainment and filler pieces — which generally, at best, have a very slim link to food and nutrition, past, present or future — put into the bottom drawer. This article, however, is now seeing the light of day here on A Wasted Life because what is an unneeded additive on one website is the basic food group of another. Enjoy. 
The review: After watching Troll 2, which definitely falls under that obfucious category known as "bad film," our minds couldn't help but wander to the folks at Impossible Foods, who are working hard to bring the world a viable, delicious, and visually appealing hamburger made entirely of plants. An idea whose time has come — if not due to ethical reasons, then ecological ones — and which, if successful, would make the eating of specific kinds of "meat" more palatable to many people, both carnivore and herbivore.
But probably not to the nefarious vegetarians in this surreally incompetent horror comedy, who pursue a harebrained path inverse to that of Impossible Foods: the heinous herbivores of Troll 2 want to convert a living, breathing human family into green, visually unappealing plant goo — their favorite food. (Actually: they don't just want to do it, they can.)

As inferred by the film's title, the baddies of this evil-vegetarians movie are fantastical creatures: a gaggle of green-goo-gorging goblins who, when they so desire, can take the form of the salt of America: the rural small farmer. (Duplicitous rural farmers, deformed killer vegetarians — Troll 2 was obviously made by an urban carnivore with an axe to grind and leaves viewers with no doubt: vegetarianism is evil, vegetarians are monsters, and eating food from vegetarians will kill you. Ergo: meat good.)

That nary a troll is seen in Troll 2 is because the movie was made under the title Goblins, and gained its final misleading moniker only to ride on the popularity of an earlier, unrelated fantasy movie entitled Troll (1986 / trailer). Thus, though there are no trolls, goblins appear often — and even reappear after being killed. (Face it, unlike with the rural small farmer, you can't keep a good goblin down.) There's an evil witch, too, not to mention a multitude of shiny, perfectly shaped, delicious-looking red apples even more beautiful than the one seen in Disney's Snow White (1937 / trailer)... and we all know what happened to Snow White when she ate that apple.

Troll 2 is, basically, an anti-vegetarian fairytale set in contemporary times (if one can still view 1990 as contemporary). And much how logic never plays a role in fairytales, logic is nowhere to be found in Troll 2. (So don't bother asking why vegetarians would want to convert living human flesh into plant goo — it's just what they do.) Indeed, to say that Troll 2 is simply bonkers would be a bit of an understatement, but what is not an understatement is that regardless of one's own personal nutritive proclivities, this jaw-dropping fantasy film is immensely entertaining in a so-bad-its-good way.

Which is not to say that it's a family movie. True, there's no exploitive nudity, and the blood and gore loses much of its punch by being bright leaf-lettuce green, but much like the off-screen death of Bambi's mother in Disney's Bambi (1942 / trailer), some on-screen events in Troll 2 could give an impressionable child nightmares. Non-impressionable people, however, will probably burst out laughing — we did, often, spilling our bag of 100% organic beet chips everywhere in the process. (But at least we didn't spill our 100% vegan beer.*)

* An impossibility, actually. Vegan beer, that is. Not to forget the dried fish bladder isinglass — used to filter most beer, even when not used the legally permitted amount of aphids per serving of hops (3,500 per 10 grams of hops) guarantees that there will always be bug remnants in the batch of beer. Thus, in all likelihood no beer is truly vegan.

In an obvious nod to another more famous fantasy film, The Princess Bride (1987 / trailer), Troll 2 opens with a granddad (Robert Ormsby) reading a fairytale to his grandson (Michael Paul Stephenson). Within this sequence, we learn from the appearance of the evil goblins — i.e., vertically challenged people wearing potato sacks and cheap masks — that the makeup and effects of the movie are hilarious, and the acting truly noteworthy. The acting of the woman playing the mother (Margo Prey), for example, is so vacuous one could imagine she is addicted to Valium, while the thespianism of the previously mentioned wicked witch (Deborah Reed) transcends terribleness to become a persiflage of bad acting, something that a talented actor probably couldn't do even if they tried.

Oh, yeah: we also learn that the granddad is actually dead, and that no other family member can see him — at least, that is, unless it's advantageous to the plot that someone suddenly can.

And while the basic plot is relatively simple ("evil vegetarian vs. good meat-eater"), it is also far more meanderingly linear than it is coherent. Throughout the movie, characters are confronted with events that would cause most people to think WTF and backpedal, but those in the movie react as if it's totally normal and slog onward. Your TV suddenly starts playing a muzak variation of You Can Leave Your Hat On and shows a babalicious brunette dancing up to your trailer? Totally normal. A friendly sheriff gives you a green hamburger to eat? Totally normal. You see a girl running in terror through the forest so you football tackle her to talk with her? Totally normal. Your young son urinates all over the food on the kitchen table so you lock him in his room and go without anything to eat for 24 hours? Totally normal. You make out with a babalicious brunette and an ear of corn and suddenly popcorn floods the room? Totally normal. Troll 2 plays out in a world where about the only thing that fazes anybody, if but for seconds, is the appearance of a ghost — who, when needed, can appear with a Molotov cocktail and fire extinguisher in hand. (Like: totally normal.)

Since its initial release, Troll 2 has gained substantial cult popularity as a "bad movie." It's a deserved reputation, as seldom has there been a worse movie that flies by as enjoyably and quickly as this 135-minute-long jewel of junkiness. Produced with all the quality of a low-grade TV movie, Troll 2 is so full of thespian faux pas, inanity, and incongruent story development that on occasion it comes across like the intellectually impaired prodigal great-great-great grandson of Dali & Bunuel's surrealist short, Un chien andalou (1929).

Troll 2, of course, lacks any of the artistic, intellectual, social, religious, or Freudian insight and criticism of that classic short, but for that Troll 2 is far funnier. It is well worth noting that unlike Dali & Bunuel's film, if not most films in general, any and all positive aspects of Troll 2 are purely accidental in origin. It is one of those rare movies — like Dwain Esper's Maniac (1934 / trailer), Ed Wood's Glen or Glenda (1953 / trailer), Harold P. Warren's Manos, The Hands of Fate (1966 / trailer), or George Barry's Death Bed: The Bed that Eats (1977 / scenes) — in which the combined inabilities of all those involved coalesce to produce something almost transcendental, almost otherworldly, in nature.

Troll 2 is truly unique cinematic experience, and a masterpiece of bad, anti-vegetarian cinema. Watch it with a friend, carnivore or vegetarian: jaws will drop, laughter will ring, and a good time will be had by all.
Post-Hermann's addendum: That Trolls 2 is as superlatively awful and uniquely entertaining should probably not be all that surprising, seeing that the director and co-scripter of the fabulous freak of a feature length film, "Drake Floyd", is actually the sadly underappreciated and superbly anti-talented Italian genre filmmaker Claudio Fragasso, a man whose auteur sensibilities and filmic (in)abilities rival those of the great Italian anti-filmmaker Bruno Mattei (30 July 1931 – 21 May 2007; see: Island of the Living [2006]), a man with whom Fragasso often worked. The plethora of wonderfully questionable filmic flotsam that Fragasso has touched as credited and/or uncredited writer, co-writer, director, co-director, producer, co-producer or even as actor includes but is hardly limited to: Hell of the Living Dead (1980 / trailer), Zombi 3 (1988 / trailer), The Seven Magnificent Gladiators (1983, trailer), with Lou "Muscles" Ferrigno & Sybil "Love Pillows" Danning, Zombi 4: After Death (1988, trailer), with porn legend Jeff "The Whooper" Stryker, Monster Dog (1984, music video), with Alice "Republican" Cooper, The Nun of Monza (1980 / trailer), Terminator 2: Shocking Dark (1989 / trailer), Interzone (1987 / trailer), starring Bruce "Mr. Linda Hamilton Kathleen Quinlan" Abbott, of The Re-Animator (1985), The Other Hell (1981 / trailer),  Caged Women (1982 / trailer) and Women's Prison Massacre (1983 / trailer), both with Laura "Yummy" Gemser, Robowar (1988 / trailer), Rats – Night of Terror (1984 / trailer), La Casa 5: Beyond Darkness (1990 / trailer), Scalps (1987 / trailer), Mania (1974 / trailer) and so much more. That his likewise uniquely talented wife and regular collaborator on scripts, Rossella Drudi, also helped write Trolls 2 probably also helped make this marvelously terrible movie what it is.

Friday, January 5, 2018

The Best of 2017

(Image above from Methane Studios — check them out.)
Time for the annual roundup of the 10 Best Films viewed in 2017.
Like 2016, 2017 was a busy year during which we watched and wrote about way fewer flicks than ever before. Indeed, we only ended up writing about 18 of the movies we watched, hardly a promising number from which to chose 10 memorable movies. And, as always, the Short Films of the Month are automatically excluded from the list, if simply due to the fact that they since they were chosen as a Short Film of the Month they are also already recommended as memorable and worth watching. (Nevertheless, we do give special mention to November's  short film Ego zhena kuritsa/ Hen, His Wife [Soviet Union, 1990], September's Seduction of the Innocent [USA, 1961]), June's Love of the Dead [USA, 2011], and January's Billy's Dad Is a Fudge-Packer [USA, 2004].) 
The big problem, in truth, is that of the 18 films we ended up writing about last year, substantially less than 10 of them deserve placement on a Best-of List — and that despite the fact that we enjoyed at least ten of the movies to some extent. But, in all truth, even if we found Soulkeeper  (USA, 2001) a fun film for an evening of beer and bong hits, the movie can hardly justifiably be put on anyone's Best-of List. Ditto, Ninja Cheerleaders (USA, 2008). 
Thus, this year's list is the shortest we've ever had! Hit the linked title to get to the original review.
And, as normal, not in any particular order of preference...

(Mexico, 1970)
"[…] an indulgent, acid-induced and visual spaghetti western art film with overt intellectual pretensions and delusions of grandeur."


(USA, 1959)
"Another super-low budget quickie from the great Roger Corman that defies its origins to become a truly enjoyable if minor low-budget classic."


(Hong Kong, 1989)
"Killer Angels / Megaforce 1 / Urban Force 1 is a string of familiar plot elements and scenes also found in any number of other movies. As uncreative as they might be, put together in such an excess and at such a speed, they work well and are immensely entertaining."


(USA, 1998)
"When released, Blade was a noticeably successful updating, if not improvement, of the original character, not least because the filmmakers, not bound by the castrating ball and chain of the Comic Code, wisely went for an R-rating. The movie was also, arguably, the first Marvel film that really didn't look cheap shit."




Special Mention to the Biggest Pile of Shite seen in 2017:

(USA, 2010)
"The little tyke wearing the rubber suit in Fred Olen Ray's less than spectacular Biohazard (1985 / fan trailer),  Christopher Olen Ray, has grown up to follow his father's footsteps and now makes movies which, going by this Hershey-turkey produced by the lowest denominator of all contemporary low budget movie production firms, The Asylum, are even worse than anything his daddy ever vomitized."

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

R.I.P.: Tobe Hooper, Part IV, 2004-2017


25 Jan 1943 — 26 Aug 2017

Like George Romero (4 Feb 1940 — 16 July 2017), director Hooper was possibly plagued by the fact that his first general release feature-film, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), was such a stylistic and influential masterpiece that there was no place for him to go but down. But for all the bad or mediocre movies he made, he still made one more masterpiece than most directors, as well as a small number of early-career horror movies of note.


Go here for Part I: 1964-1982
Go here for Part II: 1983-1991
Go here for Part III: 1992-2003


The Nightmare Ends on Halloween
(2004, writ. & dir. Chris R. Notarile)

Tobe Hooper gets listed under "Those Who Helped But Didn't Know It", along with other filmmakers whose famous killers show up onscreen, however briefly (including Wes Craven). Leatherface has about five seconds screen time at most. Filmmaker Chris R. Notarile is "a 2005 graduate from the School of Visual Arts with a BFA in animation and does a lot of "fan movies".


Madhouse
(2004, dir. & co-writ. William Butler)
Not, of course, to be confused with the great Vincent Price & Peter Cushing & Robert Quarry flick of the same name, Madhouse (1974 / trailer), poster below, or the violent Italo-slasher There Was a Little Girl from 1981 that got renamed Madhouse (trailer) upon its video release.
During the credits of this Madhouse, the director "Thanks" Tobe Hooper and David "One-Shot DeCoteau — a combination of names that perhaps an unintentional reflection of how low Hooper's reputation had sunk by 2004. (DeCoteau films reviewed here at A Wasted Life include Creepozoids [1987], Blonde Heaven [1995] and Retro Puppet Master [1999]) Director William Butler's co-scribe for the movie was Aaron Strogoni, with whom he has worked together on a number of other fun movies, including Gingerdead Man 2: Passion of the Crust (2008 / trailer) and Furnace (2007 / trailer). Also an actor, director William Butler has the "distinction" of having been killed on screen by Freddy Krueger (in the TV series Freddy's Nightmares [1988-90]), Jason Vorhees (in Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood [1988 / trailer]) and Leatherface (in Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III [1990]). He also got eaten in Tom Savini's coke-fueled color remake of The Night of the Living Dead (1990 / trailer).
Trailer to
Madhouse (2004):
All Movie has the plot: "A deadly form of madness has taken over Cunningham Mental Hospital, and it's not just the patients whose sanity is slipping in this dark thriller […]. Cunningham is infamous for housing some of society's most dangerously psychotic criminals, and when a staff nurse is murdered, newly hired psychiatry intern Clark Stevens (Joshua Leonard of The Town That Dreaded Sundown remake [2014 / trailer]) begins to sense that the staff is being held in the grip of a deadly madness. As Clark begins an investigation into the murder, his research begins to yield ominous answers that may be better left unexplored."
This movie gets mixed reactions: a search online finds as many reviews praising its "unpredictability" and "decent direction" as there are trashing its "predictability" and "bad direction". Digital Retribution is one of the yay-sayers: "I was really impressed […]. Director William Butler […] does a really good job — Madhouse is stylish and pretty scary. It's by no means a wildly original concept, but Butler injects a good bit of life into whatever's trite — the scenes in the madhouse are particularly effective. The performances are worthy of a nod too […]. Madhouse is stylish enough and scary enough to warrant your immediate attention. Seek it out!" 
Cinema Crazed is of the less-impressed school of thought: "Madhouse is less of a bad movie, and more an antecedent, a complete misfire of the potential towards its concept from beginning to end. The plot and its characters are so ripe with possibilities and writers William Butler, and Aaron Strongoni completely sidestep that in exchange for attempted style. Which is a shame because Madhouse has all the ingredients for easy-bake horror. There's atmosphere, gruesome imagery, good-looking actors, a mental institution, nutty patients, a shady staff, and a killer offing people (two total), but nothing is ever really accomplished here. Director Butler does have a knack for sheer style and atmosphere creating a setting that is both visually appealing and utterly sick. He sometimes pays homage to Barker and Lovecraft — or at least he tries, and sometimes he succeeds and this wasn't completely difficult to look at."


Toolbox Murders
(2004, dir, Tobe Hooper)


"Every year thousands of people come to Hollywood to pursue their dreams. Some succeed. Some move back home... And some just disappear."

Interestingly enough, the original Toolbox Murders, from 1978, was inspired in part by the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). Producer Tony Didio, impressed by the success of Hooper's movie, decided to make a killer flick of his own, and the final result was the misogynistic cult classic starring the great (?) Cameron Mitchell. "The events dramatized in this film actually took place in 1967" — NOT!
Trailer to the original
Toolbox Murders (1978):
So, 26 years later, Hooper helmed the "remake", which was produced by the same producers as the first version. In all truth, it is less a remake than simply a completely new movie using the same title, as the original psycho-killer plot was dumped for a supernatural-killer one. (The poster directly below is to the original film, by the way. Dunno of you could get away with a poster like that in today's prudish climate.) One notices a killer that reeks somewhat of "We hope he becomes a franchise".
Critical Condition has the plot: "Newlyweds Nell (Bettis) and Steve Barrows (Brent Roam) move into the Lusman Arms apartment complex, which is undergoing a major renovation. As soon as they move in, strange things begin to happen […]. Steve, who is a hospital resident, spends most of his time at his job so Nell must find out the cause of all the problems she is experiencing. When she calls the cops after hearing one of the tenants screaming for her life […], the police find nothing […] and chalk it up to Nell having a vivid imagination. More murders occur, including her new friend Julia (Juliet Landau of Ed Wood [1994 / trailer]) getting power-drilled through the head, another female tenant getting a claw hammer rammed through her chin, the building's maintenance man (co-screenwriter Adam Gierasch) getting his head cut in half at the jaw line with a portable circular saw, the doorman (Marco Rodriguez) getting his head squeezed in a vise while acid is poured on his face, and the manager (Greg Travis) getting his spinal cord cut in half with bolt cutters (after screaming, 'Kill me already!'). Nell finds an ally in long-time resident Chas Rooker (Rance Howard of Ticks [1993 / trailer] and Crack in the Floor [2001 / trailer]), who leads her in the right direction […]. It all leads to a rather rushed conclusion that has something to do with a 'Coffin Baby' (Chris Doyle), the supernatural actor who built the apartment complex and stays alive by killing the residents for the past six decades. […]"
In general, Hooper's Toolbox Murders was received better than the original, and better than any of Hooper's last couple of movies. A minor success financially, its very Halloween (1978 / trailer & 2007 / trailer) ending — i.e., the "dead" villain is suddenly gone — allowed for a sequel some nine years later, Toolbox Murders I aka Coffin Baby (2013 / trailer). Toolbox Murders was filmed at the Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles, which like so many of that city's historically important structures, is no longer standing.
We admit that both the original and remake of Toolbox Murders are on our "To See" list; the former because it's a cult trash classic, and the latter because it stars one of our favorite under-appreciated genre actresses, Angela Bettis (of May [2002 / trailer], the TV version of Carrie [2002 / trailer], Scar [2007 / trailer] and more). That the babalicious Juliet Landau is there as a victim is also a plus, though we prefer her beautiful eyes when they blink.
Trailer to
The Toolbox Murders (2004):
There is rumor out there — Surprize! — that like so many of Tobe Hooper's projects, Toolbox Murders fell victim to financial difficulties, a rumor spread as fact by many, including Crimson Quill: "[…] Toolbox Murders was plagued by problems which drastically altered the end product. Once financing dissolved two-thirds of the way through principal shooting, the entire production went into the shit-can, forcing him to prematurely splice what footage he already had together haphazardly in a frantic attempt to recoup any significant losses. Essentially, the final cut is something of a hotchpotch and suffers all manner of lapses in cohesion and unevenness of tone."

But assuming the two scriptwriters, Jace Anderson & Adam Gierasch, aren't lying through their teeth during their interview with Dread Central, they totally refute the rumor, saying, "Oh, and for the record, about Toolbox Murders: the rumor that's running around on IMDB saying that the film ran out of money, and a third of the script wasn't shot — that's total bullshit. I don't know where that came from, but it's just not true." Indeed, it would seem that if the production company ran out of money for The Toolbox Murders, they would hardly have had any money for their next production, Mortuary, which was written by the same duo and directed by Hooper.
In any event, Dr Gore gives the movie "3 out of 4 toolbox massacres", saying "The new Toolbox Murders doesn't waste time with a lot of blah, blah, blah. The title says Toolbox Murders, and that's what you get. Toolbox Murders is a fine film. It's top quality for a straight-to-video flick. It could have easily played in theaters."


Mortuary
(2005, dir. Tobe Hoper)
Not in any way a remake of the much earlier and relatively forgotten dead teenager film Mortuary from 1983 (trailers), poster below, featuring (Spoiler!) a young Bill Paxton (17 May 1955 – 25 Feb 2017) as the obvious killer — he listens to classical music — and Christopher George (25 Feb 1931 – 28 Nov 1983) in one of his last roles. No, here Tobe Hooper finally directs his first "zombie" film — and people generally hated it. Mortuary was to become his last feature film project directed in the US.
In their interview at Dread Central, scriptwriters Jace Anderson & Adam Gierasch say, "[…] It's Lovecraft-inspired. It used to be set in Arkham, Massachusetts. It used to be much more directly Lovecraftian and since we’ve moved it to southern California, we toned that down. It's still definitely influenced by Lovecraft. Lovecraft fans will see the influence of things like Colour Out of Space." Indeed, around 28 minutes into the movie, one sees a quote carved in the on the vault's door "That is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange eons even death may die" — which is from H.P. Lovecraft's The Nameless City.
The Tobe Hooper Appreciation Society, which calls the movie "a mess", has the plot: "Single mother Leslie Doyle (Denise Crosby) moves with her kids, Jonathan (Dan Byrd of Lonely Hearts Killers [2006]) and Jaime (Stephanie Patton), into a mold-infested house/mortuary so she can live out her dream of being a mortician (thanks mom). The house, naturally, has a past as Jonathan learns the tale of local boogeyman Bobby Fowler from romantic interest Liz (Alexandra Adi). Legend has it that deformed mute Fowler was tortured by his parents before he killed them and he still lurks the grounds of the cemetery that sits right outside Jonathan’s house. Me thinks something bad is going to happen!" 
Reelfim says, "Mortuary strikes all the wrong notes right from the get-go, as the film, which moves at a disastrously glacial pace, doesn't contain any attributes designed to capture and hold the viewer's attention […]. It doesn't help, either, that scripters Jace Anderson and Adam Gierasch have suffused the proceedings with pointless subplots designed to pad out the interminable running time […]. Filmmaker Tobe Hooper's curious decision to shy away from overt instances of gore is, to put it mildly, rather misguided, while the horror-centric bent of the movie's third comes off as ill-conceived and kind of campy — with the loud, anticlimactic final stretch, which is rife with over-the-top performances and dodgy special effects, cementing Mortuary's place as a hopelessly incompetent and terminally tedious piece of work."
Ninja Dixon, on the other hand, has some positive things to say about a movie that he needed "four times to actually watch": "While Mortuary has some serious flaws […] it also have a lot of good stuff going on. The story, from writers Jace Anderson and Adam Gierasch, isn't half-bad. Just a bit unfocused. It's an original twist on the boring zombie-theme with some truly original and bizarre ideas. It has a lot of black comedy — my favorite being the scene where the mother is sorting out her embalming equipment from the kitchen equipment! The dialogue is witty and mostly very fun in that quirky, strange way only characters talk in films by Hooper. The actors feels a bit awkward in the beginning, but they're soon in peace with their characters and the dialogue and in the end I would say this film has some of the more interesting people I've seen in a low budget, direct-to-video horror film that everyone hates. […] How's the horror then? Hooper works hard with the little horror he has, but most of the power of the scares is let down by terrible make-up, lousy set-dressings and one of the worst final scenes I've seen. […] The lack of real gore and that final, nasty horror-punch he's usually so good at, makes a weak horror movie."
Trailer to 
Mortuary:



 Masters of Horror — 
Dance of the Dead & The Damned Thing
(2005 & 2006, dir. Tobe Hooper)

Instigated by director Mick Garris (Sleepwalkers [1992] and Riding the Bullet [2004]), the anthology series featured name horror directors doing one-hour movies, usually based on stories by genre masers. Hooper's first entry, Dance of the Dead, was based on a short story by Richard Matheson, while The Damned Thing was based on one by Ambrose Bierce; the teleplay of both was written by Richard Christian Matheson. Masters of Horrors lasted two seasons before being revamped as Fear Itself, which lasted one. 
Oh The, Horror! has the plot of Dance of the Dead, which was originally aired on November 11, 2005, and should not be mistaken with the fun teen zom-com Dance of the Dead (2008): "In some vaguely apocalyptic future, Peggy (Jessica Lowndes) works in a diner with her mother (Marilyn Norry). One day, a group of hooligans wanders in, and their leader, Jak (Jonathan Tucker), takes an interest in Peggy, which her mother doesn’t like since he's a disrespectful drug addict. Because teenage girls are invariably attracted to coke-fuelled guys in hoodies, Peggy takes off with the group to Muskeet, an urban wasteland full of delinquents and nu-metal clubs (so, basically, modern day L.A.). One of these clubs (emceed by Englund) holds a secret that connects to Peggy’s tragic past." Wikipedia, quoting a Dread Central article we couldn't find, says, "This is Hooper at his best. Gratuitous, nihilistic, and unhinged. Disengaged from whatever power that has been holding him back for so many years." 
The Damned Thing, which Absolute Horror calls "Tobe Hooper’s seriously bloody, but not particularly thrilling take on demons in a small town", aired October 27, 2006. The plot, according to Wikipedia: "The Damned Thing […] is the apocalyptic tale of a monstrous force that devastates Sheriff Kevin Reddle's family and his small Texas town of Cloverdale. As a child, Reddle's father goes berserk, guns down his wife and almost kills Kevin, before being disemboweled by an invisible force. Before he dies, Kevin's father says the 'damned thing' has found him. In the present day, Kevin (Sean Patrick Flanery) is now the town sheriff and insists on living in his childhood home. He has mounted surveillance cameras around the house. The mental strain has driven away his wife Dina (Marisa Coughlan), who has taken their son Mikey with her. A rash of violent deaths plague the town, and Kevin realizes the same force that drove his father to murder — the Damned Thing — is still active. […]"


The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
(2006, dir. Jonathan Liebesman)

Interestingly enough, this time around neither Tobe Hooper nor Kim Henkel get any mention for "characters" or even "inspired by", but for that they are listed among the many producers of the movie. Director Liebesman, one assumes, won the job due to his relatively entertaining if flawed horror Darkness Falls (2002 / trailer) which, admittedly, we only bothered to see 'cause we used to find Emma Caulfield a hot tamale. (We assume she still is; we just haven't noticed her anywhere.) The screenplay was written by Sheldon Turner, who, in an example of apples and oranges followed this project up with the screenplay to Jason Reitman's Up in the Air (2009 / trailer).
A prequel, it takes place four years prior to the events that transpire in [Michael Bay's] Texas Chain Saw Massacre (2003). It was also substantially less successful, critically and at the box office, than its already critically drubbed (but financially successful) predecessor.
Thrill Me Softly cuts to the chase, so to speak: "This prequel [...] starts at the very beginning, with the birth of Leatherface and the story of how his 'family' became a gruesome bunch of freaks. R. Lee Ermey returned in the role of the evil sheriff and the film has the same sun-drenched look and sadistic tone as Marcus Nispel's previous take. The four teens in the leads are just walking flesh waiting to be carved up with a chainsaw — and that's basically all that happens in this bloody, sloppy film."
Trailer to
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning:
But not everybody hates the movie. For the Love of Celluloid is of the opinion that "The Beginning is the movie that should have been made the first time around. It's nasty, sweaty, and dark in all the right places. It's really surprising that a movie this graphic even made it through the studio system. It may be an entry in an already gory horror franchise, but this is brutal stuff! Just because the film is violent as shit, doesn't mean there aren’t moments of dark humor though. These are mostly supplied by R. Lee Ermey's dialogue."
Jordana Brewster, also found in the much more fun pro-drug movie The Faculty (1998 / trailer) and seen above from Allure magazine (2015), plays the not quite Final Girl.


The Lost
(2006, writ & dir Chris Sivertson )
Based on a novel by Jack Ketchum, who is seen briefly playing a bartender. The novel was inspired by the true story of American serial killer Charles Schmid (8 July 1942 – 30 March 1975), aka "The Pied Piper of Tucson", who had already inspired two earlier films: The Todd Killings (1971 / music score) and Dead Beat (1994 / Debbie Harry).
According to imdb, both Roger Corman and Tobe Hooper are given special thanks in the credits of this horror movie, the feature film directorial debut from the director of the infamous flop, I Know Who Killed Me (2007 / trailer), who previously had co-directed the documentary Toolbox Murders: As It Was (2003), whereupon the connection to Hooper becomes clear.
Chud.com has the plot: "Ray Pye (Marc Senter of Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever [2009]) puts Vaseline in his hair and stuffs crushed beer cans in his boots to make himself look taller. He works as a manager for his Mom's motel business, dealing heroin as a side project. The only thing that separates him from being an average, everyday asshole like most of the ones you know is that he's a killer. In a public campground on a summer evening, Ray Pye murders a girl for fun and permanently disables another, covering up the crime with the help of his friends. While the local authorities keep an eye on Pye as their main suspect in the slaying, the sociopathic greaser can't help but ignite a self-destructive and violent chain of events that ultimately shatters his entire environment."
Trailer to
The Lost:
Dr Gore gives the flick "3 out of 4 Pied Pipers", saying: "The Lost is a pretty good flick. I enjoyed it. The Lost takes a while to get going but eventually delivers at the end. There is a lot of build-up between the first murders and Ray Pye's eventual transformation into a raving psychopath. Ray tries to grab onto whatever is left of his humanity but any normal woman will see right through his deceit. The Lost paints a sick portrait of a budding psycho. It's worth a look."
 

Autopsy
(2008, dir. Adam Gierasch)

Among the many names the director thanks in the credits of this, his feature film directorial debut, is Tobe Hooper. Adam Gierasch, of course, was half of the writing team that wrote Hooper's smash critical successes, Crocodile (2000), Toolbox Murders (2004) and Mortuary (2005). Indeed, he co-wrote this movie here with that other half, Jace Anderson.
If one is to believe the sorely missed Arborgast, the movie is about a girl who wanders around hallways. 28 Day Later sort of agrees: "Beginning with five core friends drinking and drugging during Mardi Gras, the film moves along to an off-screen accident, and then to Mercy Hospital, the central setting for the remainder of the film. Even with the difficulties of there being '...no cell service...', an ambulance appears out of nowhere, lights flashing, and the plotholes begin. Once this loose group of partiers make their way to the hospital they are quickly broken up, in order to create for several smaller stories with most of the camera time focusing on Emily (Jessica Lowndes) looking for boyfriend Bobby (Ross Kohn)."
Trailer to
Autopsy:


The Woman
(2011, dir. Lucky McKee)

Yes, men are scum. (Have any doubts? Lose them by looking at at Roy Moore and Trump or even Micth McConnell... and Weinstein, of course.) Perhaps the most contentious movie from director McKee, who wowed the masses with May (2002 / trailer) and impressed almost as many people with The Woods (2006). Written together with Jack Ketchum, the movie is a loose sequel to the Andrew van den Houten movie The Offspring (2009 / trailer), likewise scripted by Ketchum. Tobe Hooper is among the many people "The Producers would like to Thank".

Cine-vue has a plot-lite version of the narrative: "In a small rural town, a family man discovers the last remaining member of a flesh-eating cannibal clan roaming the woods surrounding his home. Thinking he can cultivate this creature, he captures it and introduces her to his family, with the plan of working together to make her a respected member of society."
28 Days Later goes into a bit more detail about what sounds like a movie about Trump supporters: "Chris Cleek (Sean Bridgers) is the head of the household and […] spends his days slapping his wife around and flirting with his secretary. […] All the women in the family fear his presence, especially the emotionally and physically abused wife, Belle (Angela Bettis). However, his son (Zach Rand) takes after him by harassing and raping the now tied-up feral women." Oh, yeah, the older daughter is (Lauren Ashley Carter) carrying daddy's baby.
Trailer to
The Woman:


The Butterfly Room
(2012, dir. Jonathan Zarantonello)

"The filmmakers wish to thank Tobe Hooper" — and some two dozen other people. And what a cast of faces and faves: Barbara Steele as one of the leads, and elsewhere (sometimes just in passing, sometimes more important) James Karen, Adrienne King, P.J. Soles, Joe Dante, Camille Keaton, Heather Langenkamp, Ray Wise, and Erica Leerhsen (OK, Erica isn't a name, but she should be).
Original Teaser:
Screen Daily observes that "This psycho-horror film is constructed around the magisterial presence of British-born actress Barbara Steele, who emerged as a major presence in horror in the early 1960s with roles for Mario Bava in Italy (La Maschera del demonio, aka Mask Of Satan, aka Black Sunday [1960 / trailer below]) and Roger Corman in Hollywood (Pit And The Pendulum [1961 / trailer]), though she also appeared in Fellini's (1963 / trailer). [….] Steel here has the sort of star turn venerable genre icons like Boris Karloff and Vincent Price often found in their golden years. Ann, the mad mother Steele plays, feels like the sort of ageing female maniac popular in the wake of What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? (1962 / trailer) and often found in the films of Curtis Harrington in the 1970s — and gives Steele more to chew on than her last psychopath casting, in the 1978 slasher film Silent Scream (trailer)."
Trailer to
Black Sunday (1960):
The plot, as found at Click the City: "Elderly, reclusive Ann (Barbara Steele) spends her days tending to her butterfly collection. The film documents her relationships with two young girls. The first is her neighbor Julie (Ellery Sprayberry), who finds herself neglected as her mother pursues a new beau. And the second is Alice (Julia Putnam), an eleven year-old she encounters at the mall. Ann lavishes motherly affection on these two young girls, but that love soon transforms into something darker as she struggles to keep them under her thrall."
Trailer to
The Butterfly Room:
UK Horror Scene is of the opinion that "The supporting cast are of course excellent, particularly Heather Langenkamp as Ann's daughter — if only she’d do more movies. Ray Wise also has a relatively prominent role as the apartment handyman and is as memorable as always. With the aforementioned other notables in the cast there's always a danger of star spotting dominating the movie as opposed to the actual narrative. Here though the cameos are nicely navigated and rarely get in the way of things. The Butterfly Room is a rarity as what it's done has taken the 21st century horror rulebook of predictability, ripped it up and created a sinister tale of maternal control and feverish obsession that is dripping in class thanks to a terrific central performance."


Slice and Dice: The Slasher Film Forever
(2012, dir. Calum Waddell)
Tobe Hooper appears as a talking head in this documentary celebrating "slasher cinema — from Psycho (1960 / trailer) to the present day, with a focus on highlighting many of the genre's forgotten cult classics, deconstructing how to survive a slice and dice movie and meditating upon why it is almost always a final girl and rarely a final guy... this is a documentary which is designed for both the biggest fan of 'mad maniac' movies and the person who may only have seen Halloween and Scream."
Trailer: 

The film is cut-up (get it? hah-hah) into six body parts: "How to survive a slasher film", "The genre's greatest hits", "The final girl", "Making a memorable movie maniac", "The secret of a good gore gag" and, finally, "The slasher film forever". Tobe Hooper is probably the best known of the few granddaddies of the genre to make an appearance, followed by Mick Garris and Tom Holland (Fright Night [1985 / trailer] and Chucky [1988 / trailer]), while most of the other names are from the new generations or relatively obscure. (Scott Spiegel and Intruder / Bloodnight [1989 / trailer], anyone? Or how about Dave Parker and — GAG! — The Dead Hate the Living [2000])?


Texas Chainsaw 3D
(2013, dir. John Luessenhop)

Let's whip that dead horse! Not that Tobe Hooper had all that much to do with the movie, other than to share credit with Kim Henkel for "characters".
The script was written by Adam Marcus, the writer and director of Jason Goes to Hell (1993 / trailer), and Debra Sullivan. Gunnar Hansen (4 Mar 1947 – 7 Nov 2015), the guy who played the original Leatherface, in the original TCM (1974), makes his last film appearance — and the first in any TCM film since the first — as Boss Sawyer (and, of course, in some of the archive footage). And Bill Moseley (of TCM II [1986]) shows up Leatherface's brother Drayton Sawyer, and, more unexpectedly, perhaps, Marilyn Burns (7 May 1949 — 5 Aug 2014), who played the original final girl in the first TCM, plays Granny Verna, while John Dugan, the grandfather of TCM, is there as Grandfather Sawyer.  (TC3D was a regular family reunion, it would see.)
Over at Bloody Disgusting, in their article Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Ranking the Films from Worst to Best! this one comes in 5th out of the seven looked at. They say: "There's a lot that's wrong with this entry in the series. That it ignores all other films and sets itself up as a sequel to the original isn't a problem; continuity has never been this series' strong point. But it does ignore all logic, like having Alexandra Daddario play what was supposed to have been a woman approaching 40. In short, Texas Chainsaw 3D is dumb. However, it's also admirably ballsy in its dumb choices. The decision to make Leatherface a sort of anti-hero is insane and the constant tease of nudity feels completely out of place here. Yet, there's a sense of fun and enough nods and cameos from the original cast that die-heard series fans can enjoy. It's a very, very flawed movie, but it's not afraid to try something completely different and have fun while doing it. Somehow it manages to nail its entertainment factor despite everything that’s wrong with it. It's the type of bad movie you enjoy watching, even when logic says you shouldn't."
To make up for "the constant tease of nudity" of the movie, here is a shot of a topless Alexandra Daddario from True Detective (2014 / trailer). The girl with beautiful eyes looks as good out of clothes as in them, it would seem. And viva la naturales.
Texas Chainsaw 3D won the Fangoria 2104 Award for "Worst Film", which sort of indicates it can't be all that bad. Indeed, the general response to the movie is summed up well by Den of Geek when they say, "For gore hounds and diehard fans of The Texas Chainsaw movies, there is plenty of blood to revel in and more winks to the original film than I can count.  For everyone else, Texas Chainsaw 3D will someday make for a very entertaining late night movie to laugh at with friends."
2D Trailer to
Texas Chainsaw 3D:
Plot, from Jigsaw: "Literally picking up moments after the 1965 [sic] classic, Texas Chainsaw opens with a gunfight at the ranch that sees the Sawyers protecting their own against the vigilantes seeking revenge after the events of the original and intend to leave the farmhouse with nothing less than the head of Jed, or more prominently known as… Leatherface (Dan Yeager). Fast forward several years and the sole survivor of the shootout finds herself inherent [sic] of a mansion that brings back memories for the locals but not Heather (Alexandra *sigh* Daddario). Taking the news that she was adopted badly, she turns away from her trailer-trash parents Gavin (David Born) and Arlene (Sue Rock) and heads into the homeland of Leatherface with her friends seeking her true identity..."


Djinn
(2013, dir.Tobe Hooper)

Written by David Tully, who, if rumors are correct, is currently writing the screenplay to a Dario Argento horror movie based on ETA Hoffmann's short story The Sandman to feature Iggy Pop. (The mind boggles.) His only other credit that we could find was the script to a German TV horror movie, Hepzibah — Sie holt dich im Schlaf (2010 / English trailer), directed by Robert Sigl, who way back in 1989 made minor waves with a perverse little horror movie entitled Laurin (German trailer).
Trailer to
Djin:
One wonders how problematic a reputation one has when it takes a "name" director seven years to get another project, and then the "name" even has to travel all the way to the United Arab Emirates, a monarchy in which 7.8 of its 9.2 citizens are expatriates, where women who report getting raped are jailed, flogging is an accepted punishment for criminal offenses such as adultery, premarital sex and alcohol consumption, and as recently as 2014 two women were stoned to death for adultery. But that seems to have been the case with Tobe Hooper with this UAE-financed movie, his last completed feature film.
Djin was not well received anywhere, including the UAE: according to The Guardian, the release of "the United Arab Emirates' first horror film and the eighth full-length Emirati feature to date [2012]" was delayed because "someone close to Abu Dhabi's royal family has seen the movie and does not appreciate its portrayal of the UAE, and considers the movie to be politically subversive." A revelation sharply contested by those in UAE involved in the production, but what cannot be contested is that it took forever to get released and then, after a few film festivals, it ended up pretty much being put out with the trash and, as far as we can tell, was never given an official theatrical release. Djin is, however, now available on DVD.
The Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film Review watched the DVD and has the plot to a film they call "an exercise in tedium": "In New York City, Khalid's wife Salama (Razane Jammal) has been having emotional problems since the death of their child due to Sudden Death Infant Syndrome. A counselor they consult suggests it would be a good idea if Khalid (Khalid Laith) took a job has he been offered back in the United Arab Emirates so that Salama can reconnect with and benefit from the support of her family. Arriving back in Abu Dhabi, they are driven to their new home, the Al Hamra tower block in the desert, which is surrounded by perpetual fog bank. Salama's mother is fearful as Al Hamra has been built on the site of a village reputed to be haunted by djinn. Almost immediately after moving in, Salama starts to see things haunting her. She becomes very afraid as a supernatural force seems determined to expose the true cause of her baby's death."
But to offer a rare voice of positivism regarding the movie, UK Horror Scene liked it: "That was great! So glad I watched it. Now it's not perfect, but dang, do yourself a favor and check it out! It also seriously blows Wishmaster (1987) out of the water! Which is the only other djinn-based horror movie I can think of…"


Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films
(2014, writ & dir. Mark Hartley)

Tobe Hooper appears as a talking head and receives a "Deepest Appreciations" credit in this documentary about the legendary independent producers Yoram Globus and Menahem Golan, otherwise known as Cannon Films. (Interestingly enough, both refused to be interviewed for the film.)

Other docs Mark Hartley has made include Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! (2008 / trailer) and Machete Maidens Unleashed! (2010 / trailer); in 2013, Hartley made his first non-documentary feature film, Patrick (trailer), obviously enough a remake of Patrick (1978/ trailer).
Trailer to
Electric Boogaloo:
2,500 Movie Challenge says, "[...] Electric Boogaloo covers the careers of Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, a pair of cousins from Israel who loved movies so much that they decided to make some of their own. After scoring major hits in their home country (Lemon Popsicle [1977 / trailer], a nudity-laced look at teenage life in Tel Aviv, is still one of that country's biggest Box Office successes), the two headed to America where, in 1979, they took control of Cannon Films, at the time a small, struggling studio. Putting the focus squarely on B-movies, the duo produced flicks like Enter the Ninja (1981 / trailer), The Last American Virgin (1982 / trailer) (a U.S. remake of Lemon Popsicle), and Death Wish II (1982 / trailer). Golan was a filmmaker at heart, and left the financial side of the business to his partner Globus, who many called the more 'reasonable' of the two. For a while, their approach worked; throughout the '80s, Cannon turned out dozens and dozens of low-budget pictures each and every year, a few of which actually made money. [...]"
Deleted segment on
Cannon & Marvel Comics:
Video Graveyard raves "Hartley has gathered an impressive array of subjects here and they offer up many stories of Cannon's iffy business practices and cheapness. [...] It was great to see cult movie goddess Sybil Danning, Cannon's always busy go-to director Sam Firstenberg [...], and even Django himself, Franco Nero. I also really loved the segments involving American Ninja (1985 / trailer) star Michael Dudikoff as he recalls them trying to make him into the next big young action hero and Tobe Hooper's recollections of basically flipping the bird at them by making his Texas Chain Saw Massacre sequel more of a black comedy than horror. There's just so many hilarious stories on hand and astonishing details of the studio's inner workings that this is essential viewing for anyone who remembers their anticipation when they'd see that famous logo and hear the iconic 'dum-dah-dum' music before the movie they were about to watch. [...] If you grew up with Cannon like I did you're going to adore this. Even if you didn't this should still be essential viewing if you have any interest in the behind-the-scenes workings of a company that played it fast and loose but somehow had a hell of a run. This has been my most anticipated doc since it was originally announced and I came away from it with a huge grin plastered on my face."


Leatherface
(2017, dir. Alexandre Bustillo & Julien Maury)

Tobe Hooper is gone, but his characters live on. He's even listed as an executive producer. The French team Alexandre Bustillo & Julien Maury came to the project, on assumes, by way of their previous French projects, À l'intérieur / Inside (2007 / French trailer), Livide / Livid (2011 / French trailer),  and Aux yeux des vivants / Among the Living (2014 / French trailer). And though they wrote the scripts to those three projects, the screenplay for this one came from Seth M. Sherwood.
Trailer to
Leatherface:
A prequel to TCM (choose your version), despite its Texas setting Leatherface was shot in Bulgaria, making it the first of any TCM movie to not be filmed in the US of A. The film, yet another prequel — see The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006), the existence of which this movie totally ignores. According to Wikipedia, "Seth M. Sherwood pitched Leatherface to Millennium Films as a prequel that would follow the titular character in a mentally competent state, enduring trauma that transforms him into the intellectually disabled murderer seen in the previous films. Maury and Bustillo signed on as directors after reading the screenplay, impressed with what they found to be a unique take on the long-running franchise. The film takes place in the canon established by [Michael Bay's] Texas Chain Saw Massacre (2003) and Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013), chronologically taking place before the two films."
Casey Movie Mania pretty much sums up what most people seem to feel about the movie when he says, "Been there, done that." Over at Roger Ebert infers the same by claiming that movie has "a sleepy story that could easily be titled I Was a Teenage Leatherface". And while we haven't seen it, we can't help but notice that both the key features that made the original film so scary, the claustrophobia of the location as well as the total removal from civilization, are thoroughly lacking in what is almost a road movie. The events of the original TCM could happen because the events were done under the radar deep in the middle or rural nowhere; here, the events scream for the world to take notice.
Digital Journal has the plot: "Jed (Boris Kabakchiev) is the youngest of the Sawyer clan, not yet inducted into their bloody traditions of torture and murder. But it's not for a lack of trying or encouragement by his mother, Verna (Lili Taylor)… the boy simply appears to have the conscience the rest of them were born without. However, when they brutally kill the wrong person, the sheriff (Stephen Dorff of Botched [2007 / trailer] and Blade [1998], seen below from Shadowboxer [2005 / trailer]) makes it his mission in life to 'save' children from familial endangerment by removing them from their homes. As a result, Jed grows up in the system before finally landing at a mental institution. The inmates are restless and desperate to avoid the doctor’s experimental procedures, so at the first available opportunity they break out. A deranged couple, Clarice (Jessica Madsen) and Ike (James Bloor), take a couple of their fellow inmates, Jackson (Sam Strike) and Bud (Sam Coleman), and a nurse named Lizzy (Vanessa Grasse) along for the ride, but it's not going to end well for any of them. [...]"
Haddonfield Horror contemplates, "[...] Can Lilli Taylor not find work worthy of her talents? If you solve the Lilli Taylor quandary, perhaps you can let Stephen Dorff in on the answer."
 
Blood Brothers, however, is at least appreciative of the directorial style, saying: "With their own series of modern classic horror films in their filmography [...], this French duo [Alexandre Bustillo & Julien Maury] were a very inspired choice for the film. Inside was one of the pioneering films of the shortly lived French extreme horror boom of the 00s and their ability to balance tight tension with malicious bursts of violence and gore was impeccable. It was a balance that would be perfect to drag the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series out of the hammy slasher hell. If there is anything that truly shines in the film, it's their visual prowess in developing tension and gutting it with intense violence. The use of lighting and iconic tones from the original film give it a classic look while maintaining a hard-edge modernity which is demonstrated through the intense special effects and gore that it splatters its audience with. This is not a film for the faint of heart and it will do its best to shock, gag, and scar you with some. [...]" 
Used in the movie —
Nathaniel Mayer's
Leave Me Alone:


Tobe Hooper — May He R.I.P.

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