Sunday, June 08, 2008

Grindhouse? More like Craphaus!



For those of you who shy away from the low-end of the cinematic gene pool, let me offer up a suggestion for getting your feet wet. JUMP IN! Yeah, that's right. Jump in, right over your head. You'll panic. You'll freak for a few moments. But when your head breaks the surface, you'll then realize you just dove into a swimming pool full of sewer water. Trust me, once you get used to the smell, you'll find yourself being amazed at the variety of turds you can find in that over-sized punch bowl.

A prime way to dive in is with VideoAsia's Grindhouse Experience. There are two volumes of this series out. Both have 20 movies that you probably never heard of and, well, to be honest, you could really care less if you ever did, unless you are used to swimming in the sewer water of cinema, and then these fecal chunks have a touch more character. So, with this installment, which is already mired in bad taste due to so many scatological asides, let's focus on the first volume and pick a nasty bit of bowel displacement called Demon Witch Child.

Now, as you know from my last posting about Devil Times Five, I'm not a fan of children as a rule. So you can imagine a movie in which a child is possessed would fall low on my "I loved it!" meter. Ah, but you would be wrong. Allow me to explain.

This film, a Spanish production from the mid-Seventies, sought to capitalize on the whole Exorcist routine that was popular at the time. Everyone and their dog was pumping out bile-spraying, anti-Catholic profanity-spewing movies to cash in on the popularity of the film version of Mr. Blatty's novel. Italy was the primary source for a lot of this nonsense, and while the country IS Catholic for the most part, there was this whole undertone of thumbing a collective nose at the primary religion.

Now Spain, they seemed to be a bit more inclined to view any breach of the religious norm as a deviance in Life itself. In this film, the possession comes about at the hand of a band of Gypsies. They get such a bad rap in this movie that you can begin to understand why they claim to be persecuted along the lines of the Jews. In fact, if you watched this movie, you'd begin to think Gypsies are the spawn of Satan Himself. They seem to exist only to subvert the holy mission of The Church. Maybe they are, but when I was raised by a band of them, they were nothing but kind to me. Okay, so I wasn't raised by Gypsies. Still, they are treated like scum in this movie. So what if they kidnap a baby for a blood sacrifice to Satan? At least the kid is earning his keep.


How in Hell does any of this relate to kids, you may be asking. When the old Gypsy ringleader of the coven nosedives out the window, her spirit is sent to inhabit the body of the police commissioner's young daughter. The sweet, wholesome child seems to be perfectly okay with taking the ugliest trinket from a weird Gypsy woman, so she basically had this coming. As little Miss My-Poo-Doesn't-Stink, I didn't like her. Once she cuddles up with the Devil's toy, she cops an attitude as big as the outdoors. Then she becomes interesting.

Yes, I understand, she offers up the standard possession antics. She just looks so cute calling the self-important priest a faggot. And when she castrates her governess's boyfriend, she shows that even young teen girls have Girl Power. The only low point comes when she unleashes a plushie attack on one of the many servants in the household. What the Hell is so diabolical about being pelted with stuffed animals? Some people actually find it sexually stimulating. I guess even wicked Gypsies can have a bad day. In the end, the kid, with her eyes practically on opposite sides of her head, still makes you think that Nabokov had something going when he wrote Lolita. Except she didn't spew anti-Christian obscenities. Or show her panties to the camera while crawling upside-down on the outside of the house she lives in.

Is the movie any good? It has cheap thrills. It moves at a good pace. It doesn't leave any bad after-taste, unless you are a hardcore Catholic. It does sport a weird sub-plot about the uptight priest that leaves you wondering if you should root for him or wondering he really is a mincing homosexual as the little demon witch child suggests. Plus, you get to see a baby sacrificed. When was the last time you saw that, huh?

Worth checking out if you've bought the Grindhouse Experience set on its own merit or because you just had to have a bad VHS reproduction copy of The Children. Everyone else, out of the sewer water pool and hit the showers.

This stinker has also been released on video as The Possessed. The cover has been added for those of you who think this blog is written in a vacuum. We can Google, too.

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