Tag Archives: Debbie Rochon

366 UNDERGROUND: FRANKIE IN BLUNDERLAND (2011)

DIRECTED BY:

FEATURING: , Thea Martin, Brett Hundley, David Reynolds, John Karyus, Karen Sartorio, Vincent Cusimano, Tom Devlin, Damon Packard, Evan Stone,

PLOT:  Everyone hates Frank. Especially his wife Katie and his best frienemy Tommy Spioch, who asked to crash on their couch two years ago and never left.  Tommy spends most of his time lusting after Katie who seems to hate him just as much as she hates Frank. Frank’s existence is stupid.  After two possibly accidental homicides, two kidnappings and a visit from a talking spider, Frankie’s world is turned upside down as he drifts through Blunderland searching for his missing wife.

COMMENTS:  The second feature from Caleb Emerson (Die, You Zobie Bastards!), Frankie in Blunderland shows a modicum of restraint compared to the previous film—it’s a bit more structured than the ‘everything and the kitchen sink’ approach of Bastards, yet it pumps up the surrealism.

Scripted by Marta Estirado (who appears in the film and died shortly after principal shooting was finished), Blunderland plays as a post-modern L.A. hipster bounce on Lewis Carroll’s well known tale, and possibly “The Odyssey” as well.  Aramis Sartorio (The Gruesome Death of Tommy Pistol) plays Frank, a loser who’s not so loveable, and who, truth be told, is probably his own main problem.  Despite everything, Frankie still believes that things can only get better, even after two possible murders, and the kidnapping of his wife, which leads him to wander the Blunderland landscape (AKA L.A.) looking for her and encountering various other misfits and oddkins such as a hobo prophet (John Karyus), a Mormon missionary who may actually be a space alien ( John Christopher Morton), lesbian robots, oracle spiders (Debbie Rochon), and just plain slackers all of whom either help or hinder his search for Katie.

Blunderland would make be a good double-bill companion with Tommy Pistol, in that both are absurdist looks at life in The City of Angles (and they share some of the same actors).  It’s a good candidate for The List mainly for its visual style and cast of crazy characters, but also because it’s an anti Rom-Com that’s actually successful and doesn’t cop out at the end.


Aramis Sartario and screenwriter Marta Estirado (R.I.P.)

Official Site /Facebook

CAPSULE: SATAN HATES YOU (2009)

DIRECTED BYJames Felix McKenney

FEATURING: Don Wood, Christine Spencer, Angus Scrimm, Reggie Bannister, Debbie Rochon, Michael Berryman, Larry Fessenden

PLOT: In this re-imagining of the “Christ-sploitation” films shown in churches and

Still from Satan Hates You (2009)

probably a few Southern gynecologists’ offices of the 60s and 70s, we follow a young man and woman who make all the wrong choices in a haze of drugs, alcohol, and rock music while unknowingly under the influence of two demonic imps.

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: Satan Hates You, while initially very jarring in its lack of self-explanation, is a satisfying experience in terms of its Troma-esque shock horror and its acute satirical edge.  But its freaky imagery leans too often on a bland naturalistic style that mars its individuality and chokes the weirdness out of the movie.

COMMENTS: Satan Hates You is a very hard film to place.  Being a satire, a dark comedy, and a horror film is no ordinary pedigree, and Satan Hates You maniacally shifts from one of these genres to the next every few minutes.  It is a wicked send-up of those fear-mongering Christian PSA films that pop into existence every generation about the dangers of doing ungodly things like having abortions and doing drugs.  But it honestly doesn’t hit you that way when you watch it if you don’t do your research.  The first time watching it, I felt this to just be a dark, meandering horror-comedy about two idiots who make a lot of bad choices.  Director James Felix McKenney doesn’t really go out of his way to make this idea pop out at the audience with staples of the “Christ-sploitation” genre, like cheesy acting, an oversimplification of right and wrong, and loads of self-righteous condemnation.  We are instead tossed quite objectively into these people’s lives, full of sex, murder, and self-sabotage, and don’t get dropped many hints that we’re supposed to be in on a joke.

Once one understands the idea, everything falls into place a little more, and it does Continue reading CAPSULE: SATAN HATES YOU (2009)

12. TROMEO AND JULIET (1996)

“Body piercing.  Kinky sex.  Dismemberment.  The things that made Shakespeare great.” –Tagline for Tromeo and Juliet

DIRECTED BY:  Lloyd Kaufman

FEATURING: , Jane Jensen, Lemmy, Debbie Rochon

PLOT:  Alcoholic Monty Que and unscrupulous Cappy Capulet have a long running feud dating back to their days as partners in a low-budget sleaze movie studio, and they have passed on their personal vendettas to the next generation.  Monty’s son, Tromeo, falls in love with Cappy’s daughter, Juliet.  The two young lovers must overcome the bloody gangland antics of their friends and family, Juliet’s upcoming arranged marriage to a self-mutilating meat-packing heir, and Cappy’s tendency to beat Juliet and lock her in a plexiglass box, among other crossed stars.

tromeojuliet

BACKGROUND:

  • Original drafts of the script had the parts played by costumed characters from other Troma studio releases: The Toxic Avenger, Sgt. Kabukiman, and so on.
  • Much of Shakespeare’s original dialogue was included in the rough cut, but most was removed after negative audience reaction.
  • Rock n’ roll cult figure Lemmy (of the band Motörhead) played the role of the narrator for free, and also donated the song “Sacrifice” to the soundtrack.  Several less famous bands also donated songs for free or for a nominal price.
  • Shakespearean actor William Beckwith played the role of Cappy Capulet under the pseudonym “Maximillian Shaun” because he was a member of the Screen Actor’s Guild and Tromeo and Juliet was a non-union film.

INDELIBLE IMAGE:  Many of the more memorable images in Tromeo and Juliet are too obscene to be depicted in stills.  The best sequence is when Juliet’s belly unexpectedly and rapidly distends and splits open to give birth to…  a surprise.

WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Redoing a classic Shakespearean tragedy as a low-budget, offensive farce is a promisingly weird, if obviously gimmicky, premise. Lloyd Kaufman and his Troma team were inspired by the concept, however, and put more creativity into the project than they did in their usual formula schlock fare. The typical Troma anarchy and bad taste reign again here, but the producers add a healthy dollop of bargain-basement surrealism (Juliet’s disturbing sex dreams) and some on-the-cheap arthouse effects (the lovemaking scene in a plexiglass box against a starry backdrop). The result is a movie that’s completely unpredictable, despite a plot known to every high schooler. Tromeo is revolting one moment, and oddly sweet and beautiful the next, an incongruity that only adds to the weird atmosphere.

Short promotional clip for Tromeo & Juliet

COMMENTS: Troma is a low-budget film producer/distributor formed in 1974 to promote Continue reading 12. TROMEO AND JULIET (1996)