APRIL 16, 2009
Whenever I need to explain what the New Bev is to someone who has sadly never heard of it, I usually say "It's our version of the Alamo Drafthouse" (if they don't know what the Alamo is, they probably won't care about the New Bev and thus I wouldn't be bothering to explain it to them). So it's quite fitting that they chose the Bev as the Los Angeles stop for their "Alamo Roadshow", which finds the famed Texan duo that runs the Drafthouse taking their unique programming to independent theaters on the West Coast. And they kicked things off with Julie Darling, a wonderfully sleaze-lite thriller with Sybil Danning (who was in attendance).
To describe the movie briefly, one would probably say "It's about a girl who kills anyone who comes between her and her father, whom she wants to fuck." But that would be doing a disservice to the film, which has a far above average number of cheer-inducing moments (like when a man tries to resuscitate a suffocated child by pinching his nose shut), a beautifully executed ending, a 15 year old girl with a gun rack, and lots and lots of "product placement".
I'm sure none of the companies paid to have their products in the film (given the taboo subject matter, it would probably be the opposite), but it's striking how often a well known product figures into a scene. Julie has a borderline addiction to Nestle Quik, her mother rambles about the virtues of Diet Coke, and at one point, a guy walks out of a Burger King and then past a McDonalds! And for whatever reason, Julie has a Pan Am poster in her bedroom. Teenage girls love defunct air travel, I guess.
Back to the BK/McD's guy, he is truly an inspired creation. As the Alamo guys correctly pointed out, he clearly just wandered in from a 70s porno movie. It's not that he merely LOOKS like a 70s porno actor (sans mustache), but in a span of about 90 seconds he manages to run through every bad porn cliche known to man: asking the housewife if he can assist her with anything, commenting about her being alone in the house, etc. And writer/director Paul Nicholas knew he had a good thing going, because after a tragedy, the movie follows him for a while. I momentarily thought the movie was pulling a Psycho and that the rest of the movie would be about him, but it's just to help set up his importance later in the film.
Some might be reading all of this and wondering if this is even a horror movie. Well, had I known nothing about it beforehand, I wouldn't have considered it one. It does have some elements of a Killer Kid movie, obviously, but it's not played for scares or even thrills, really. It's just a weird little movie. But, it played the festival under the "Psychosexual Maniacs" banner, and IMDb lists it as horror, so it qualifies for my purposes. I wouldn't have minded a bit more bloodshed (they set up Julie killing her little stepbrother, but they pussy out and save the kid before writing him out of the movie all together), but the lack of violence pays off with the surprising and somewhat mean-spirited ending.
Oh, in case anyone was wondering about the whole "daddy-daughter" thing, it never gets into Taboo 2 territory, but Julie does fantasize about being in Danning's place while she watches them make love (Hey-O!!!), and the dad is way too touchy-feely with her at times. Not a movie to watch with your family, at any rate. Oddly (or confusingly), I won a movie called Daddy Darling during the traditional pre-show raffle, which sounds like a softcore version of the same movie, except with lots of lesbian sex. Whether I will actually watch it anytime soon is a question mark, but considering that the only other thing I ever won in the raffle was a wrestling T-shirt, I consider it a damn good win all the same. Thanks, Brian and Eric!
Anyway, if you live in any of the big West Coast cities (San Fran, Seattle, and Portland), check out the Alamo roadshow if you can. Full schedule is at their website HERE. San Fransiscans should note that Raw Force is on the bill there - do NOT miss an opportunity to see this film with a crowd!!!
What say you?