MovieBob - Intermission
Test Your Might: Round 2

Bob Chipman | 12 Oct 2012 12:00
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Last February, I ran a piece called "Test Your Might," the subject being movies from the "watch at your own risk" edge of extreme cinema. Lest you think that was the end of the list, here's part two just in time for Halloween ...

Note: As with before, be forewarned that I'm not joking about some of these being endurance tests. There is some harsh, nasty, hard to take stuff going on in all of these movies, and this list should not be taken as either a recommendation that you view them if you are not inclined, or as an endorsement of their individual subject matter/intent.

House On The Edge Of The Park

As the title indicates, this is basically a knockoff of Wes Craven's 1972's Last House on the Left, a film that forced the audience to suffer through a brutal rape/murder and then to "enjoy" the perpetrators being themselves brutalized by the family of their victim.

This take on the material (from Ruggero Deodato of Cannibal Holocaust infamy) features Last House star David Hess as a psychotic mechanic who's been committing serial rape/murders along with his mentally-challenged sidekick (I warned you).

Through a plot contrivance, the two men wind up invited to a house party being thrown by a group of upscale yuppie intellectuals (the film is supposed to take place in New York), where it soon becomes apparent that the reason for the invite was so that the guests could have some laughs at the expense of the invitees' lower class/handicapped status. Said yuppies are, of course, not aware that their playthings for the evening are a pair of armed, dangerous killers ... or were they?

Setup for a morally ambiguous off-Broadway play? Could be, but it's actually just a setup for a movie's worth of awful people doing increasingly awful things to one another with a logic-breaking groaner of a final twist. Not as bloody as you might expect, but keep in mind Deodato's idea of raising the stakes is to have an (entirely innocent) underage girl get unexpectedly pulled into the carnage's orbit. Not bad as sleazeball dramas go, but hard to take in spots.

Blood-Sucking Freaks

Students of offbeat history may have heard of The Grand Guignol, a theater located in Paris that, during the early 1900s, specialized in presenting graphically staged recreations of torture and sadism to its audiences. Blood-Sucking Freaks - infamous as the only feature distributed by Troma Studios that even Troma boss Lloyd Kaufman considers reprehensible - takes that premise to the logical extreme.

The story concerns a carnival-style hypnotist whose gruesome novelty act involves placing volunteers (usually women) into trances and compelling them to commit or undergo sadistic acts on one another. The audience, of course, assumes it's all an illusion, but the hypnotism and the murders are very much real. Although, in a surprisingly modern-feeling twist, the scope and effectiveness of the villain's operation is explained away via connections to human trafficking outfits.

The gore is all pretty unconvincing, even by 70's standards, but the creep factor comes from just how ... "imaginative" the tortures themselves are, including but not limited to, a human dartboard and an endurance-triggered guillotine. Rough stuff, no matter how laughable it looks today.

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