Here we have a real treat I’m lookin’ forward to slappin’ my putrid peepers upon; namely the Barry J. Gillis Triple Threat Collection! Let’s take the demonic dive, shall we cats n’ creeps?
First up is 1989’s Things!
After a dream sequence involving a fully nude woman in a devil mask and a mutant baby, we get down to brass tacks with the meat n’ potatoes of Things. Our hero Doug (Doug Bunston) is nowhere to be seen as his brother Don (Barry J. Gillis, who wrote and produced) and his pal and Fred (Bruce Roach) ransack his house for beer and play a weird ass demonic tape and rifle through his books. Doug returns and yells at them, but the goofs don’t scram; instead they drink more beer, look for cockroaches to eat, and try to tune into the beastality network on TV… also drink beer. You may think this makes little to no sense, and it doesn’t… but holy fuck is it ever deliriously entertaining!
So more assing around ensues, splatter films are watched, porn goddess Amber Lynn reads the news, Salvador Dali’s lost artwork is found (no, I’m not kidding), and finally Doug’s wife Susan’s (Patricia Sadler) stomach explodes releasing a horde of insects… which I’m assuming is a Tuesday in this universe.
Anyway, Doug comes clean and admits he and Susan couldn’t get pregnant and they went to a doctor for a radical new therapy… which resulted in the hot mess our heroes just witnessed. Anyway, things go completely off-the rails at this point as the newborn insect mutants prowl the house, people are tossed into other dimensions (or spontaneously combust… maybe both, or neither… ), books are discussed, whiskey is drank, and Amber Lynn continues to inform us of the tippy top of headlines, such as murders, world politics, science breakthroughs, and of course and George A. Romero’s feelings on unauthorized versions of Night Of The Living Dead.
Things is so absolutely batshit insane that it succeeds just on the fact that you never, ever know what to expect next… performances slip and slide all over the place (aided and abetted by the fact that nearly all of the dialog in this is dubbed in), no one reacts like any sane person would in any given scenario, and most of the plot and dialog seems made-up on the spot. In other words, this is exactly the type of putrid picture yours cruelly eats up with a sinister spoon!
Additionally, this is fright flick filmmaking at it’s purest. You can tell that Gillis and director/co-writer Andrew Jordan absolutely adore our beloved horror biz, and they were bound and determined to make their mark in the genre, regardless if they had all of the necessary know-how or not. It’s really inspiring, and it’s enduring cult status should prove to today’s low-budget horror auteurs that you can create something entertaining and fun no matter your competency level.
Also, I love the practical bug mutant and gore effects on display here; hand-crafted art of the best kind indeed cats n’ creeps, and nothing short of completely Grade-A fuckin’ awesome!
I loved every last fuckin’ frame of Things, and I absolutely can guarantee you will too; especially if you dig on watching S.O.V. flicks while high off your arcane ass… which if you read my wicked words on the regular I know you well and truly are!
Next comes 2012’s The Killing Games!
While on a stroll in the woods, Elysia (Yunona Anders, who gives a pretty dynamite performance here) and her gal-pal Jenny (Jacquie-Lee Thibault) come across two of the baddest mother fuckers in the entire wicked world; Dirty Jesus (John Scott) and Son of Satan (Edwin Autridge)… which in my not so humble opinion would have made one hell of a fuckin’ title for this flick, but I digress…
Anyway D.J. and S.O.S. are straight up murdering folks, and soon they turn their not so tender attention on Elysia and Jenny resulting in the latter being raped and killed and the former beating feet with her hide intact.
Elysia eventually makes it home, and her father, Birdman (Kelly A.H. Bird), begins battening down the hatches waiting for the inevitable shitstorm to strike… but it never does. Hey, did I mention ol’ Birdman is a landlord? Well, he sure as shit is, and that shit is going to become very important, very soon!
Although no murder-crazed maniacs arrive in his life, Birdman has his fair share of other static fuckin’ up his day such as his wife’s (Cheryl Lisk) nurse Juanita (Connie Stevenson) who is only fucking Birdie in the hopes of getting some of his wife’s sweet, sweet inheritance upon her death… which is fast impending due to natural causes or otherwise… also, his good pal, the (usually) low-level criminal Alex (Alex Sharpe) needs a place to hide out after killing his wife (Elizabeth Richard) and his underling, the absolutely amped up to the great beyond Toby (Toby S. Krekoski in a performance that is insane to behold… this is one cat that absolutely loves his job) for fucking around… literally.
So, remember that “landlord” bit up yonder, well ol’ Birdman and Elysia head out to collect rent, and guess who his tenants are? Dirty Jesus and Son of Satan, the one and only baby!
You know why I dig The Killing Games? It’s like a strange combination of Grindhouse and a tone poem… you get serial killers (in off-the-wall, completely entertaining performances from Scott and Autridge), street criminals, native spirituality, busking, gore… it’s an absolutely batshit combo that shouldn’t work… but fuck yeah it works!
It’s the dichotomy at play that makes this film so mesmerizing… is it a horror flick, an exploitation sleaze fest, an examination of the dark and light of the human condition, a crime story? Well it’s all of those, and probably a few more I missed along the way, and it’s just so damn sincere in it’s inspired cinematic lunacy (courtesy of writer/director Barry J. Gillis, ‘natch) that you can’t help but become completely absorbed as your jaw slams the floor every few minutes.
Violent, off-kilter, and often completely out of control; The Killing Games is a complete horror head-trip of a picture, and I’d easily recommend it to people who dig on stuff like Jim Van Bebber’s Deadbeat at Dawn or the flicks of punk trash-auteur Paul Michael McAlarney.
Lastly we get 2020’s House of Many Sorrows!
As the film begins, Arthur Caverly (John Garofalo II) questions his sanity, but we have the answer right quick; this dude is crazier than a shit-house rat. He’s also the caretaker for his dying mother (Betty Maxwell) and by default her bed and breakfast biz.
Knowing he can’t handle both, Arthur hires the beautiful Loni (Samantha Brownlee) to look after the old bag while he handles the bed and breakfast. Of course “handling things” is not our heroes strong suit, and soon he begins losing his shit in a major way thanks to all of the abrasive people in his life, such as Jocelyn, an oversexed resident of the bed and breakfast (played by X-Rated royalty and Rob Zombie favorite Ginger Lynn), and outrageously bosomy real-estate agent Kimberly (Jolene Mackenzie, who also served as a producer on the film)!
I really dug House of Many Sorrows, and a large part as to why is the overall strange vibe this flick possesses. What could be a regular ol’ Psycho pastiche instead turns into a hallucinatory, at times disturbing, and at all times downright weird piece of psychotronic cinema! I mean we have pig-masked voyeurism, a TV that plays events from the film, and hallucinogenic images inserted throughout the narrative, so expect the mother fuckin’ unexpected with this one boils n’ ghouls.
Adding to the mix are the convincingly off-kilter performance from Garofalo, whom we know from the get go is going to straight up murder a mother fucker before the film’s runtime has expired… but damn if this dude doesn’t make your skin crawl, so bravo there!
Also of note are cameos from Kim Sønderholm (Vidar the Vampire, and who also cameoed in The Killing Games as well), and The Human Centipede II and III‘s Laurence R. Harvey (in a voice over role), as a newscaster and an inspector respectively, as well as writer/director Gillis as a travelin’ bible thumper.
It must also be said that if you like your conclusions neat and tidy, this flick will not be your best friend, as the ending is an abrupt mind fuck that I loved, but your mileage may vary…
House of Many Sorrows is nothing if not a delightfully devious fever dream experience that I know many of you cats n’ creeps will dig if you’re in the proper haunted headspace!
As for special features on this Blu-ray release, we get an interview with Tobe Hooper (for the none of you that don’t know, the director of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and it’s first sequel, Poltergeist, Lifeforce… and many more) conducted by Gillis, and a trailer for the collection.
To put a beastly bow on it all; the Barry J. Gillis Triple Threat Collection is an absolute blast from beginning to end (I mean come on, 3 five skull reviews) … this is neo-grindhouse, grassroots horror at it’s absolute freakin’ finest, and should prove to be irresistible for lovers of absolute cult movie madness!