Sunday, January 2, 2011

Insomniac theater double feature: It's Alive and Bad Biology

Friday, December 10, 2010 01:28 AM

Once again, the rest of the house is slumbering, even Olivia, my late night movie buddy, is asleep. Instead of watching movies I already own, it is time check out my Netflix streaming queue. The big deal about that is Netflix streaming only works with Windows or Apple operating systems. The reason why that is problematic for me could be its own post; let me say that every time I boot my laptop into Vista, I feel a part of my soul die.

Subconsciously, I devoted the evening's viewing to themes of sex and reproduction. In my queue I saw It's Alive (1974), written and directed by cinema maverick, Larry Cohen. A quick look at his IMDB profile revealed that he was responsible for one of the strangest films I have ever seen, 1976' s God Told Me To, part police procedural, part sci-fi story, and part trans gender sex in the armpit with your brother who is really a homicidal Jesus alien type movie. I really need to watch that one again.

Also in my queue was Frank Henenlotter 's Bad Biology (2008). Henenlotter is known for the Basket Case trilogy and his work rescuing and releasing classic exploitation (is that an oxymoron?) films for Something Weird Video.

It's Alive was one of those movies I wasn't allowed to see as a child, so I did what I usually did when blocked by my parents refusal to grant access to the mysteries of cinematic terror, I read the novelization. Since the film originally was released when I was ten, I probably read the book when it was released in 1977 at age 13. I remember very little except the cover. I had forgotten about it until I read  “Who Needs Birth Control: Terrifying Births in Horror History” at The Horror Digest . Both a scary fable about parenthood and parable about the dangers of big pharma, there wasn't much of interest to me except for two scenes; the carnage in the delivery room and the scene where Frank Davis, the father, explains the difference between Frankenstein and Frankenstein's monster.

It's Alive begins on the eve of the birth of the second child for the Davis's,  a middle class couple. In the days before sonograms, no-one is aware of the hideously deformed, monster child that is about to enter the world. Just like the rest of us, this baby wants to be loved and is fully prepared to kill in order to be with his mother. Including killing everyone in the delivery room. Way more deadly than the new born in Alien .

Besides being effectively scary, the massacre in the delivery room also raised questions about birthing procedures in the 1970s; did mothers really get tied to the tables with leather restraints? Also, how come no one thought to cover the poor mother's obviously exposed vagina while running in and out of the room?

The movie ends with Frank accepting the child as his own, proving that love may conquer many things, but bullets and greed have the final say. 

Next I watched Frank Henenlotter 's Bad Biology , a movie I had heard about from the excellent Mondo Movie podcast. They had a special episode devoted to Frank Henenlotter last year. Although there is a birthing scene at the end (and a couple through out), Bad Biology is about sex. And there is lots of it. Usually with a good-sized dose of violence to boot, or whatever else is handy.

Anthony Snead and Charlee Danielson play two hyper sexualized beings in search of each other and relief. Despite the obvious low budget and unknown actors, it was a very enjoyable film. Ms. Danielson really put herself out there. She was both horrifying and funny, often wearing only fake blood. The rest of the cast displayed similar dedication to what must have been some uncomfortable scenes involving a monster sized, well, why spoil it?  

Sunday, January 2, 2011 08:27 PM

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