Thursday, February 7, 2013

Startling Discovery!

For kicks, after posting the Labyrinth post, I thought I would check my stats on the blog. I was pleasantly surprised by the page views.

I was not so pleasantly surprised by this statistic, about what people have googled to land on the blog:

What. The. Fuck.

First of all, I made the mistake of peeking at this stat on my work computer, so I'm HOPING this doesn't come back to bite me in the ass. Second of all, I had to rack my brain and think what movie I had written about that could have popped up after using the  search keywords "dog and girl doing sex" and/or "dog and girl sex." What the hell?

I skimmed through the rest of the keywords used and old posts, and figured out it must be Tank Girl, my first R-rated movie and one I was sure would get my in trouble for watching at the time.

At last, you finally betrayed me movie...
Or at least I'm fairly certain Tank Girl is responsible for leading that lone pervert hoping to see something really foul to my little blog about movies I like and remember instead. 

And for the record you weirdo, that thing is a kangaroo mutant, not a dog. 
But thanks for reading!

You remind of the babe...

I recently saw several pieces of news that indicate David Bowie will have a new album coming out soon, and I immediately thought of one thing: LABYRINTH!

"But what about his decades of classic work and stage performances, iconic songs, and so on?" you might ask. Well, if there's always been one weak link in my pop culture knowledge and study (other than sports because, seriously, sports? I've been hit the face by too many pieces of athletic equipment in my life to deal with sports), it's music. I tend to just like what I like, without the same level of knowledge or research that I apply to all my movie/TV watching.

So before you complain that I'm focusing on his work for a children's movie, remember: This ain't a music blog.


It's a classic, and I don't mean that in the ironic hipster sense. Yes there are 80s clothes, yes the music is tinged with 80s, yes there are goofy puppets, and yes David Bowie is wearing leggings that leave NOTHING to the imagination. But I genuinely love this movie and watched it all the time as a kid.

They used to play it on the Disney Channel along with a couple of other obscure favorites, The Worst Witch and Return to Oz. I feel like no one remembers the time when Disney was a wee more experimental in its programming and less focused on the tween demographic and their original movies and TV series. Disney, I wish you had stayed just a little bit weird.

Labyrinth is a Jim Henson production, with a screenplay by Terry Jones of Monty Python fame (not Terry Gilliam, the other one). There's no Miss Piggy or Kermit. There are fun, funky, and weird puppets, a very young and charming Jennifer Connelly in the lead, and of course, The Thin White Duke himself as Jareth, The Goblin King.

The story centers on Sarah, a teenage girl still obsessed with fairy tales and fantasy (she LARPs in the opening scene!) with a bit of bratty streak.

What a neeeeeeeerrrrrrrddddd!

One night she's stuck babysitting her younger half-brother and semi-intentionally calls for the Goblin King to steal the kid because she feels put upon by her dad and step-mom. When The Goblin King actually shows up and snatches him away, she immediately regrets her decision and tries to talk Bowie out of it, but he offers her a challenge instead: navigate his labyrinth and get to the center in 13 hours, or the kid becomes a goblin forever. So she enters the labyrinth, makes some friends, learns some lessons, and rescues her brother. And jams to some sweet Bowie tunes in the process!

This is stuck in your head now and there's nothing you can do about it!

Again, I know Bowie's got some amazing classics, but damn if I don't love the songs on this soundtrack. I've always really liked "As the World Falls Down" from the dream sequence in the movie. He's got such a cool voice and it's a great stand alone song. Think hard, if you heard this before now, would you have assumed it was in a movie with puppets? Probably not.

I also love her costume and overall look. It's 80s fantasy, without being too much.

Speaking of puppets, I love the look of the goblins and they are funny to boot.  This is pretty much my favorite scene in the whole movie:


Word play! Weird little worm guy offering tea! Just the best.  It's got a British sense of humor to it that suits children stories, mixing dry humor with silly. Witness:

There are some silly edits, but I couldn't find any other decent clips. But you get the idea: Fart noises! A puppet riding a dog!

One of the things that people seem to remember most is this scene, with the world's most befuddling riddle:


I'm fairly confident she's right, and that she loses anyway because David Bowie is messing with her, but I've met people and read things that say she's wrong. Which door is which?

With puppets, riddles, and fun songs, it's just a good children's story. It doesn't over explain anything, no needless backstory about why David Bowie is human looking and all the other goblins are puppety-looking, no revelation that Sarah has known the Goblin King since she was a child and has to go back and defeat him as an adult (I'm looking it you Tim Burton version of Alice In Wonderland).  They set up some key story elements in the first few minutes of the movie, with Sarah's reading of a book called Labyrinth and a pan through of her room showing all sorts of knick knacks and stuffed animals that appear as goblins or set pieces later in the movie. With those bits of backstory established quickly and efficiently, we're off to wacky goblin land for fun and adventure while we learn to be a little more mature.

The movie ends with her stating that she's in control and defeating The Goblin King, thus saving her brother. She tucks him into bed and then goes to her room, where she gets one last visit from her goblin friends. She admits that she has to grow up, but every now and then, she'll think of them because she does need them, she needs the fantasy sometimes (don't we all?). Then they have one last party in her room and it looks like oodles of fun. (Of all the videos posted online, I'm sad this is one people seemed to skip.)

Everyone has to grow up eventually. But that doesn't mean you can't party with goblins in your room every once in a while.

If it's good enough for Bowie, it's good enough for me. 
(This is not the scene I was talking about, but it's all I could find. Why don't people like that scene as much as me?)

I find it unique in another way, specifically that there's no romance for Sarah. It's a story about finding the balance between growing up and accepting responsibility, while at the same time not losing your imagination and sense of fun in the world. It's a fairy tale and a fantasy, but there's no prince for Sarah to marry or meet at the end.

For crying out loud, this is her male lead for THE WHOLE MOVIE:

Although, if you were maybe really drunk.....

Her journey is all about her, and discovering herself without being validated by a male character. Pretty significantly, the way she saves her brother and herself from The Goblin King is by declaring, "You have no power over me."

Obviously, I noticed all this as an adult, but the fact that it's there for kids, especially little girls, to absorb is encouraging. The only other recent movie I can think of that sends a similar message was last year's Brave, where the princess refuses to marry anyone because she's enjoys her freedom to do un-princessy things too much, and it focuses on the mother-daughter relationship instead.

Now of course, there's a lot of people who point out a certain amount of romantic and/or sexual tension between Sarah and The Goblin King. But to me it's on par with people who are like, "Hey what if The Mad Hatter and Alice hooked up?" To which I say, "That's not the point. And also, EWWWWWWWW. She's supposed to be a little girl in that story!"

This shot does nothing to undermine all the "shippers" rooting for these two crazy kids to get together. Oh, wait. Only ONE of them is a kid. He's old enough to be her dad, people.

Yes, that is a way to read it. In that final scene, he asks to her to love him and be ruled by him, and in exchange he will be her slave. People seem to be enticed by the idea that he, as he says, does everything she asks, and all he wants back is for her to love him. There are MOUNTAINS of fanfiction, tribute videos and artwork that show them as king and queen or at least deep in forbidden love. But she says no. Because offering to rule over someone and be their slave is, while not only contradictory, not really love, romantic or otherwise. And it stands in the way of her journey to growing up and moving on from a fantasy that's holding her back.

I've always had an issue with adults finding romance or reading something too cynically in stories aimed at kids or younger adults. As I mentioned, a lot of people see some kind of romantic and ultimately sexual relationship between The Mad Hatter and Alice, particularly after the Tim Burton Alice in Wonderland came out, which featured (thankfully) an older Alice. People have whole weddings and engagement photo sessions dedicated to this idea. 

On the flip side, I know a lot of people think Gene Wilder's portrayal of Willy Wonka comes off like a he's a pedophile. I can kind of understand it, because there is a certain unsettling air about his interactions with the kids, but if anything, it's comes off more as a callous disregard for safety than sexual assault. To me, that's overly cynical and needlessly dark reading of the movie. And people apply the pedophile/pervert criticism to Labyrinth a lot too, because David Bowie is much older than Jennifer Connelly and wears really tight pants that show off his business. But, seriously, do you really think they would make a movie about a pervert goblin king out to seduce and menace a teenager and let little kids watch it?

Sometimes a crazy person who used to make hats is just crazy person who used to make hats.

Sometimes a guy who runs a chocolate factory and wants to give it away to a non-terrible child is just a guy who runs a chocolate factory and wants to give it away to a non-terrible child.

And, sometimes a Goblin King who steals children to turn them into goblins and make your life hell is just a Goblin King who steals children to turn them into goblins and make your life hell.

Labyrinth is ultimately, at least in my not so humble opinion, a story about a child growing up, not a fantasy romance novel with heaving bosoms and tight pants.

Well, okay, there are tight pants.

So. Damn. Tight.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

What I Watched When I Had The Flu

Subtitle: Fever Dreams Galore!

I was incredibly lucky when I had one of the worst stomach flus I've ever had this past weekend, because my cable provider was offering the free preview weekend with all the movie channels! So I had plenty of things to watch between visits to the porcelain god. Let's take a look at what I watched (that I remember when I wasn't completely passed out):

The Mighty Ducks
Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Fright Night (the remake)

I came in about half way through Congo, so I missed this classic of cinema:

It is an absolutely ridiculous movie, with the sign language talking gorilla, the evil white gorillas, and the fact that Laura Linney is in an action flick. Plus, she and everyone seemed to have and endless supply of everything, including a giant laser that she uses at the end to blow up a satellite IN SPACE! And then the survivors leave in a hot air balloon and a gorilla with no experience in the wild heads off with a family unit. In fairness, it's apparently meant to be an adventure in the vein of King Solomon's Mines book, but it's still pretty silly.
FEVER DREAM LEVEL: Oh Man, Is That Gorilla Talking? Far Out

The Mighty Ducks
I did not watch it in its entirety either, as I was pretty much clicking around to anything that would entertain me. But I couldn't resist this childhood classic, and saw the scene where Coach Bombay explains why ducks are so tough. In retrospect, the reasoning is pretty weak, but it works for the kids and I dare you not tell yell, "DUCKS FLY TOGETHER!" when you play hockey with someone.
FEVER DREAM LEVEL: Nostalgic. This Used To Be My Playground

Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Wide awake for this one as I hadn't seen it, and was curious since I had seen the others and read the books. Frankly, they added a lot of unnecessary drama and action to a story that is one of the more action packed in the series. It may be that the story was too episodic for a movie because they do pretty much sail from one dangerous locale to the next, but people almost turn into gold and definitely turn into dragons along the way. They threw in a subplot with kidnapped Narnians being sacrificed to a green mist, Lucy being jealous of Susan's budding beauty, Edmund being very jealous of Caspian and by extension Peter, had the White Witch appear again, and left the one kid a dragon much longer than in the original story. While the inclusion of the White Witch and Peter and Susan added some slight cohesion to the overall film series, I was left fairly unimpressed and wished I could watch the sort of hokey but very endearing BBC versions they used to play on PBS.
FEVER DREAM LEVEL: Awake and Judgemental

Love it. Makes me laugh every time.

Fright Night (remake)
Doesn't even hold a candle to the original by any stretch of the imagination, but I enjoy David Tennant's goofy, drunk Peter Vincent so much that I'm willing to give it the slightest of passes. I remember laughing my head off in the theater at it and it's still relatively fun at home. Colin Farrell brings some weird energy to his vampire that I thought was fun, but he never gets to show it off as much as he should. The movie ends up getting bogged down in the more action-y elements and creature effects, so some of the fun vampire stuff gets lost. And nothing will ever top Chris Sarandon's line reading of "Welcome to Fright Night....For Real."
FEVER DREAM LEVEL: Confused. I Wish I Was Watching The Other One
Finally, sometime around Sunday, I recovered and watched the Golden Globes, Downton Abbey, and Once Upon A Time (the last two being my usual Sunday night viewing). But it was rough going for a couple of days there, thank God I had an endless supply of movies at my disposal (yes, I have Netflix, and all that, but there were too many extra steps involved to use it on the Wii given my weakened state).

So remember kids, if you want to have weird dreams while you're unable to eat for two days, be sure to watch a ton of movies!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Super Mario Brothers Revisited

In theaters no less!  After writing this original post way back in 2011, one of the kind folks at The Super Mario Bros. The Movie Archive found it, reached out and asked if I'd like to post my article on their site for their followers, since they're all big fans of the movie.  Even though it wasn't exactly a glowing review, they appreciated the overall idea of the post.  It took us a while to get around to it, but eventually it made it onto their message boards.

Not long after that, they told me about a screening they were having here in Los Angeles, with special guests, and kindly invited me to come.  I agreed and dropped in to see the movie in the theater, a totally new experience from my original viewing on cable at home in the early 90s.

It wasn't a completely sold out show, but the number of fans that turned out was pretty impressive.  And the movie definitely has its fans, some of whom I chatted with in line.  They all said, or I overheard, that the movie is part of their childhood.  Some were more gamer types than others, but I did meet one other person who had a hard time connecting the fungus shown in the movie to the mushroom power ups in the games.  Also, a fellow girl in line noted that she had a John Leguizamo crush when she saw the movie too.  See, it's not as weird as some people might think!

The organizers at The Super Mario Brothers The Movie Archive were also able to score some props and costumes from the movie for the lobby displays.  It's always fun to see that stuff up close.  Check out the pictures:

 A King Koopa T-Rex mold

Princess Daisy's dress from the film.  Seems short here on the mannequin, but it was average length on the actress in the movie.

One of the final King Koopa transformations.  Scared the life out of me as a kid.  Slightly less intimidating in person, but still impressively detailed.  Check out the drool!

The jumping boots!  Apparently better known as Thwompers or Thwomp Stompers.  They look like tricked out moon boots to me, but they let you fly, so I'm not going to judge.

After some vintage, probably 70s era no smoking and no talking ads (Tarantino would have loved them!), we got to the intros from Ryan Hoss and Steven Applebaum, explaining a little how their site came together and how, though the movie isn't widely known as a cult classic it in the traditional sense, it's got a good sized fan base. 

Then they introduced our special guest, production designer David L. Snyder, who has also worked on other movies like Pee Wee's Big Adventure and Blade Runner.  He commented a little on how, even though creative control and concepts changed hands a few times up to and including Disney's involvement, most of his designs stayed the same.  He added that, even though it was "flawed...At least they made the movie."  And really, when you work in TV and movies, sometimes you just want to know it gets made.  He also added that he doesn't always like watching his own movies because when he sees them at first, he just thinks of all the things he would have done differently or changed, but he was ready to see it now for the first time in ages.

And with that, we were off and running with the movie!

I, obviously, had forgotten a lot of details that happened in the movie, like just how silly some of the puns or one liners were.  But the best, most ridiculous thing that I forgot was Dancing Goombas!  Mario and Luigi take an elevator to find Daisy, but it fills up with Goombas, the lizard people security guards in the movie.  I'm still not sure I understand the logic, other than it serves as a distraction, but Luigi gets them all swaying back and forth to some elevator music in just about the weirdest scene in the movie.  I mentioned that I was going to see this movie again to a friend, and his reaction was "The dancing Goombas!"  Check out the link to see what we mean:

They even have a follow up gag at the end with someone radioing in to Dennis Hopper, "Sir, the goombas are dancing again!"  Very silly, and the crowd whooped and cheered for the scene in the theater.

I also forgot that John Leguizamo takes his shirt off when they're stuck in the desert outside the dino-people city, and he looks pretty good.  That one was, clearly, for the ladies.

There's even more, so let's run through the list real quick like:

-They did indeed play Walk the Dinosaur during the dance club scene.  This song is fantastic, no matter what context you hear it in.

-Daisy and Luigi go on a double date with Mario and his girlfriend, and neither dress up AT ALL.  She's still wearing her palentologist gear, and he's in his t-shirt and hoodie from earlier.  Meanwhile, Mario is rocking a suit and his date is in a (for the 90s) nice dress.
-Maybe it's because it was just goofy, but Daisy and Luigi run in on Mario in an undershirt and boxers asking for help with a major plumbing problem.  He gets deathly serious and says, "Let's do this!" or something along those lines, and it just struck everyone in the audience as hilarious.
-Dennis Hopper's Koopa was a huge germaphobe.  Never understood why, just some weird character quirk
-Yoshi, the pet dinosaur in the movie, was creepy-cute! 
-Not creepy-cute, but just plain creepy?  Dennis Hopper hitting on Daisy.
-The two goofy thugs, one of which is played by Fisher Stevens.  They start off stupid, get a brain upgrade, and then speak intelligently, but are still more or less dumb.  I forgot they were in the movie, but I liked all their silly business.
-It has literally nothing to do with anything else going on, but Dennis Hopper orders a pizza at one point in the movie, and it actually comes up again a couple times.  First, he demands to know where his pizza is, and then before he's defeated, someone radios in "Sir, your pizza's here!" and he yells, "Not now!"
-Everyone died laughing at this, but at one point Luigi sees a little mushroom sprouting from the fungus that kind of turns to follow them as they're passing by.  He says, "I think it's trying to communicate with us!"  And then he YANKS it off the wall.  Look, Luigi, it can't keep communicating with you if you KILL IT. 

Did my overall opinion of the movie change?  Not really.  But I have to credit the guys at The Super Mario Bros. website for putting together a really fun evening and bringing an old childhood favorite for many to the big screen again.  There's nothing better than having the right crowd at a movie screening because it becomes such a great communal experience.  Everyone's sitting in the dark, reacting to something onscreen, laughing, cheering, screaming, and crying.  And it's always a fun opportunity to see something on the big screen that you haven't seen there in years, or that you've only ever seen on TV.  Watching something at home definitely has its perks, but seeing it in the movie theater is always better.  This movie hasn't been on screen in theaters for 19 years, so it was a great chance for fans to to relive their memories or enjoy a whole new viewing experience.

The guys at the Super Mario Bros. Movie Archive site are taking the show on the road with screenings in Wilmington, NC (where they shot some of the movie), and Seattle in the very near future.  Check their site for more information:  

Up next, the most obscure movies I've ever seen on HBO, including another one starring John Leguizamo!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

And I'm Victoria!

Well, I've been running a little heavy on horror movies these past few posts.  Let's get a little lighter and talk about something really fun: Spice World!

Is Spice World the best movie of all time?  Of course not.  But is it damn fun?  Absolutely!  It's so silly in that British way that I just love, and the movie knows it's not out to accomplish anything grand.  It's of course a retread of A Hard Days Night with the Spice Girls running around London, singing, dancing, and trying to be good friends while enduring the pressures of fame.

I used to really love the Spice Girls when I was a kid, but I think everyone did.  Come on, when you hear the start of this, doesn't it just brighten your day a little?

I remember my best friend and I wanting to see it in theaters really badly, but somehow we never got around to it.  Or rather, our parents never got around to getting us there.  But after the movie came out on video, my dad got me some kind of advanced copy from a work associate of his, which is especially impressive because he didn't even work in entertainment (nice string pulling Dad!).  The only problem with the video was, because it was some promotional advanced copy, a watermark message would scroll across the screen from time to time with dire warnings about not copying or distributing it.  But it didn't matter because you could still see the movie, and I got to see it early on beautiful VHS.

Spice World is just campy as all get out, full of celebrity cameos, and really fantastically silly moments, plus Spice Girls music (which may or may not be your favorite thing).

This is, easily, my favorite part of the movie though:

Victoria, aka Posh Spice, is actually suprisingly funny in this movie.  She'll never be a great comedienne, but she nails whatever they give her here.  She does her goofy stuff with a straight face, and the mash up between her "Posh Spice" cool, aloof persona and the wacky goings on around her make her a sort of straight man, but a disdainful, idiotic one.

Someone helpfully did a super cut of all her moments (this person also has too much time on their hands).  Among the "highlights," I think I like it best when she refuses the obstacle course at the 2:00 mark and prissily walks past it in her heels and tiny dress (which is so short, you'll notice she has to keep yanking it down).

(Skip the bus scene at the end of the clip for the moment, there's more on that later)

My second favorite part is the capper to a running gag they had going.  In the movie, the Spice Girls manager, played awesomely by Richard E. Grant, is hearing movie pitches from two Hollywood guys, played by Mark McKinney (of Kids in the Hall Fame) and George Wendt.  Each pitch has been increasingly ridiculous, such as suggesting a movie where Sporty Spice would try to win a skiing championship to save the girls if she could just get over her crippling fears of heights, skiis, and snow.

The final pitch they deliver is a self aware tie in with the plot of the movie, which is essentially that they have to get to the concert in time, but of course there are Hollywood "rules" they have to follow and a chase ensues.  Richard E. Grant listens to the insane description of everything happening (while we viewers see it as it's happening), and then when they don't rush through the door as promised in the pitch, he shouts "YOU LIED!" and tries to choke Mark McKinney.  The unexpected intensity of his reaction is what sells the joke for me.

Long story short, watch the first three minutes of this clip to get the idea.  You can also stick around and watch them perform "Spice Up Your Life" while everyone dances, including Roger Moore.  I know I just did.

The movie serves as a silly time capsule of 90s fashion and pop culture, and captures a moment when the group was at the absolute height of their fame.  They must have known they wouldn't be around forever (brief reunion tour not withstanding), so why not preserve some of that in a way that includes Meat Loaf making a less than timely "I Would Do Anything For Love" joke?

The movie never takes itself seriously, and it was never meant to.  Some of the jokes are simple or even lame, but I think the more unexpected ones (like the few shown above) are really fun and keep it from being completely terrible.  It's a ridiculous movie with a ridiculous premise, a slip of a plot, and no major character development, but that's not the point.  It was never going to be a grand cinematic outing, it was going to be a fun movie about a fun group of girls with stock personalities driving around in what appears to be Dr. Who's TARDIS disguised as a double decker bus (remember, it's bigger on the inside) getting into vignette adventures with the likes of Hugh Laurie, Alan Cumming, Stephen Fry, Bob Hoskins, and Elton John.  And damn it, I like it.

Plus, Richard O'Brien, better known as Riff Raff from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, appears as a nefarious paprazzo.  I'm not saying he didn't do it for money, because let's face it they all did, but if you have the creator of probably the best known camp movie ever showing up in your campy version of A Hard Days Night, well I think that serves as an unwritten seal of approval.

So, if you're feeling a like watching something light and want to do the equivalent of dumping cotton candy on your brain, revisit Spice World.

And remember, there's always room for wacky photo shoots!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Peaches? Peaches!

I was going to originally write this post about seeing the movie Selena for the first time and learning about her life, and other more serious ruminations. But I'm saving that for another post where I can pay her and the film its proper respects.

Because I just found out that the movie Amityville 1992: It's About Time is on YouTube in full.

Backstory on the Selena/Amityville connection: I was at a good friend's slumber party when I was in middle school, and both movies were in the stack of videos for the night. Why both were in the rotation I have no idea, but any good girls' slumber party should have a mix of laugh inducing horror and tear jerking romance or weepies.

Amityville 1992: It's About Time, is about a CLOCK from the Amityville house that wreaks havoc on a family. And it's pretty much as amazing as it sounds (if you love terrible horror movies and making fun of them as I do).

There are three things that I distinctly remember about this movie, apart from all the laughter.

The first that leaps to mind features an old lady looking for her dog, crying out, "Peaches? Peaches?" At some point, the dog has been eaten by a pool drain, and the lady is about to make a nasty discovery.

Check it out, starting at 3:50. And brace yourself, it's pretty gross.

Now, you might say, "You terrible girls, how could you laugh at that poor dog and old lady?" Well, as you may have guessed the movie itself is pretty silly. Something about the voice yelling "Peaches" over and over, and the timing of the sound effect just sent us into peals of laughter. And the dog's name is Peaches for crying out loud.

Secondly, we were all beyond skeeved out when the daughter of the family becomes possessed and decides to seduce this kid.

That's her brother by the way. Believe me, I re-watched a couple scenes from earlier in the film to try to make it less nasty and say, "Oh, well she's his step-sister, so it's only slightly creepy." But re-watching the opening scenes has made it unfortunately clear that they share DNA.

Finally, our heroine is able to undo everything the evil clock did and the movie starts over. At that point, she beats the hell out of the clock and walks out, but not before this amazing exchange:

"What was that all about?"
"It's about time, that's what!"

You need to jump to about the 7:57 mark to enjoy it:


Many thanks to Water Cooler Films on YouTube for hosting the shorter chunk of the movie.

But don't you think it might be worth it to watch it in all its glory?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

We Gotta Find A Place to Crash!

I used to really love going to the video store. In fact, I miss going to the video store. I miss wandering from section to section, picking up titles based on the covers and reading the backs, trying to decide if I'd be interested in it. Sometimes, you could find some real gems, something you overlooked when it was in theaters or just flat out never heard of.

And other times, you find some fantastically amazing crap.

For years, every time my best friend and I would go into the local video store, we would always see this box cover:

So, it's an art film then?

It intrigued, it bewildered, it tantalized, and it made us ask just what the heck was this movie? No matter who we were with, we'd ask, "Can we rent this?" And it was always met with, "Ha ha, very funny guys. No." We knew as long as we couldn't rent videos without a parent, we weren't going to see it. But we'd always look at it, every time, without fail.

"One day," we'd say. "One day."

And then, sometime around the start of college, we did it. We rented Motel Hell. It was tucked in along with a handful of other cheesy horror movies, our favorite for sleepovers and birthday parties. I remember we didn't end up watching it until morning, but, in so, so many ways, it was worth the wait.

Motel Hell is the classic story of a farmer and his sister, who either kidnap people from their motel, or cause their cars to crash off the road for their human sausages. They keep the people in the ground, buried up to their necks with their vocal chords cut so they can't scream, and keep them hypnotized until they're processed into "Farmer Vincent's Fritters." But one day, a young couple are caught in the trap. Farmer Vincent becomes smitten with the little lady, and she does in return. Farmer Vincent's sister is jealous/flat out crazy and is really committed to the whole "cannibal sausage" plan, eventually threatening Farmer Vincent's beloved. At some point another young man joins the equation, creating one of the weirdest love triangles in horror history.

It's just so hard to decide between the admittedly bland but far less murderous younger man and the incredibly creepy, cannibal farmer and his sister.

Our heroine is pretty game to hook up with Farmer Vincent, and it's just really weird. Of course, as these romances do, it all kind of falls apart when she discovers the horrible secret and is almost turned into sausage by his sister. She escapes with the indistinguishable young guy while the people in the ground bust out and attack Farmer Vincent and his sister. I'm pretty sure everyone dies with the exception of our heroine and the random young man.

Perhaps justifiably, there aren't many video clips of the movie online, except this trailer.

The grainy quality coupled with the surprisingly graphic shots for a trailer really don't do justice to how supremely silly everything in the movie actually is. You can also spot a few shots of the van for the band Ivan and The Terribles, who are responsible for the best scene in the entire movie.

The driver of the van is a very Rasputin-looking member of the band Ivan and The Terribles. The scene shows the band smoking weed, drinking, and generally being an awesome late 70s band. I forgot exactly what prompts it, but the driver says, "We gotta find a place to crash."

And then the van crashes.

Maybe you had to be there, or have to actually see the scene, but by God it is one of the funniest things I've ever seen in my life. The timing of it is absolutely amazing, and the look of the band just adds to the overall impact of what I'm guessing wasn't supposed to be a joke, but ended up hilarious anyway. They of course become part of the Farmer Vincent garden patch, but are also around at the end for the cannibal vegetable attack.

So if you're ever wandering around one of the last of the video stores, looking for something strange and hilarious, I recommend Motel Hell.

Is that a garden of people? Oh, Motel Hell, wonders never cease!