Home Is Where the Gore Is
Even gore ain’t what it used to be in this digital age, when the cheapest horror remakes and sequels are as polished as they are soulless. Thus, Cinefamily’s series of vintage “homemade horror” is a welcome reminder of the passion and ingenuity dedicated amateurs used to invest in the lowest of low-budget genre product. Like Nathan Schiff, a Long Island teenager shooting Super-8 shorts during the ’70s, before graduating (in his senior year) to feature length with the indelibly titled backyard bloodbath Weasels Rip My Flesh (1979). Actually, whatever can be gleaned from the piecemeal plot about mutated monsters, a mad scientist and a macho detective would justify the even superior title Radioactive Weasels Rip My Flesh, but that’s beside the point: In true amateur filmmaking spirit, this is foremost about the giddy joy clearly felt by its maker(s), ambitious (though some might say: foolish) enough to include a lengthy scene in outer space — on a $400 budget! But within the year, Schiff (who will introduce his double feature on November 29) had traded paper rockets for atmospheric chainsaw mayhem. Long Island Cannibal Massacre (1980) shows a Super-8 amateur-auteur coming into his threadbare own: It’s as gross and assured as any $900 production has the right to be. Schiff looks like Steven Spielberg next to the mysterious Chester Novell Turner, who before vanishing (forever?), bequeathed upon this Earth two hysterical video nasties that can barely be called competent but certainly stark-raving mad. Frequently hilarious and offensive, Black Devil Doll from Hell (1984) tells of a religious, sexually repressed woman — who is soon licked and humped toward ecstasy by the titular puppet. This, however, is the sane work in the Turner canon, as revealed by the second half of Cinefamily’s November 22 double bill: Tales from the Quadead Zone (1987) has doomed characters speaking in mysterious tongues, before molasses-paced chaos ensues, while Turner’s trademark beat-box-funk Casiotone compositions counterintutively rock on. At heart, homemade horror, however surreal, is serious business: Proof can be found on November 15 in Bret McCormick’s The Abomination (1986) about an unsavory monstrosity — yucky phallic tentacles and huge mouths — grown from a tumor set free by a televangelist’s preaching. The proximity to the early body (and soul) horror mutations of Canadian master David Cronenberg and Videodrome, is intriguing enough; the entirely post-synched soundtrack makes this 16mm gorefest a hallucinatory experience: There’s an almost arty ambiance. (Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theater; Saturdays at 10 p.m., through Nov. 29.)
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