don’t let your deal go down…

Once again we had to answer the call of Stephen King. This time we watched Graveyard Shift. Yes, it was another cheap and corny King movie, but for some reason I found it more refreshing than most of them. I don’t know why so many of his theatrical movies have the look of TV movies (I think maybe he is just a corny guy), but this one had more meat to it.

The high points are Stephen Macht as the evil boss (while his accent was a bit disturbing, I think it added to his sense of meanness), Brad Dourif as the crazed exterminator and, mainly, the setting. It takes place in an old mill (next to a graveyard, of course) and they did the mill up nice. It is filled with genuine-looking and scary old equipment and it features creepy and convoluted lower levels. The trouble is that this little mill in Maine has a rat problem… and maybe some other kind of a problem, as people who work in the basement have a tendency to disappear. The boss is always needing to hire new fellows and when this new fellow appears, you know he’ll be the answer to all of their problems. The lower level, where he works, is filled with rats, and maybe something else that has a fondness for rats, lots of rats. There are rats all over this movie. Rats, disappearing people, some big leathery wings and a dark basement filled with garbage. There is a project in the works to clean out the basement, and you just know that this plan will lead to something a little more exciting! The boss is a big scary fellow, with a habit of intimidating the men who work for him and harassing (and more) the women, Brad Dourif is wonderfully creepy and the movie actually gets pretty gory as it goes on.

And I watched, when I could manage to pay attention to it, Pervert!. On its own it would be a mediocre, low-budget, sex-comedy with a lame horror element. Sadly though, it was heavily referred to as a homage, or some such, to the films of Russ Meyer. Something which makes it worse than it would have been otherwise. Once you impinge the name of an auteur like Russ Meyer, you bring a level of judgment to your films that they are probably better off without. RM films have a level of character, originality and “philosophy” behind them that would make most any attempt at replication seem trite and contrived. Case in point? Pervert!.

The story of a young fellow who returns home to the family farm to find his elderly father shacked up with a young stripper he met in reno. Of course, ribald escapades follow and then the lady’s deceasement occurs. As the movie progresses, a number of other young ladies violently and mysteriously join her in nothingness. Due to a voodoo curse, it turns out. So what is the RM connection? Well, the whole thing is basically taken from some of the storylines of Supervixens, stretched out and with a horror element added. In fact, a good number of the scenes are taken quiet liberally from Supervixens. This is a strategy that fails everywhere in this movie! RM’s aces are: his girls, his guys, his settings and his stories. While the settings here are fine, nothing else is. The girls? Obviously, as a modern film they use just some standard b-movie starlets in this, uninspired and campishly acted they don’t even approach the potent physicality and menacing psychology of Uschi, Lorna or Sheri and the other dramatic women that Russ fills his movies with. The men? The famed square-jowls of the awesome Charles Napier are sadly lacking here, even the old dad has nowhere near the presence of Hal Hopper or Frank Bolger. And then there’s the story… RM films are generally about decency coming into contact with deviousness, duplicity and deviance, they are focused on the depths of human greed and ill behavior. To start there and end up with a silly voodoo thing (and I mean, really silly) as a protagonist detracts from the glory and shame of the human element and is just plain dumb.


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