Wow, my mind has officially been blown by Panos Cosmatos’ second feature film ‘Mandy’! I was lucky enough to catch it this crazy ass flick last Sunday evening at Cinema 21 here in Portland with a rowdy packed theater. I’m damn glad I decided to make a run to the cinema rather than renting this online ‘cuz in my opinion that’s the absolute best way to see this one for the first time. After watching the steaming pile of crap that was ‘The Predator’ at a matinee Friday, a movie like Mandy was a complete and total breath of fresh air. I guess the best thing to say here is this movie may not be for everyone, but if you’re ready to take one of the craziest mind bending cinematic journeys of the last couple decades then you’re gonna fucking love it. Hell even the poster is awesome!
Mandy is a completely insane revenge flick set in the early 80’s and it’s unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed before. I’m so used to seeing big crappy Hollywood blockbusters in the theater, so this was a bit of of a welcome shock to my noggin. The whole movie plays out like an uncomfortable fever dream, with Nicholas Cage as a logger named “Red” who lives out in the Pacific Northwest with his beautiful but eerily mesmerizing girlfriend Mandy. They live a quiet, serene life in an incredibly strange home in the middle of the woods, with large glass walls that bring to mind elements of a real life fairy tale. Everything’s dark yet overly drenched in vibrant hues of reds, purples & thick lush colors creating a surreal landscape that feels like a dream put right on the screen in front of you. It’s a spectacle to behold and it’s clear from the start that Red & Mandy have been through a lot together, sharing a truly special bond in their secluded life. Mandy works at a nearby convenience store, wears cool heavy metal tees and loses herself in fantasy novels while Red spends his time chopping down trees with his chainsaw. The two of them are pictured intently watching 80’s horror flicks together (NIGHTBEAST!), chatting about what their favorite planets are, showing they’re living a rather sweet, simple and innocent life together at this point.
Well shit majorly hits the fan when a crazy van full of uber religious cult members roll into the area and their leader spots the oddly beautiful Mandy walking on the road one day. The cult leader is seemingly hypnotized by her and quickly declares that he must have her for his own. The first hour of the movie is pretty slow moving but in the best way possible, though we don’t get much backstory, we do get a clear picture of the love Mandy & Red share for each other, which makes what follows all that more intensely heartbreaking. I don’t want to spoil anything here, but let’s just say this cult goes the full distance to send Nicholas Cage into a fully batshit crazy journey that’s part Evil Dead, part Hellraiser and part LSD drenched revenge fantasy. I know people have a sort of ironic love for Nicholas Cage these days but seriously Cage fully shines here in easily one of his best performances of his career. He’s awesome and not in some ridiculous sort of way. The movie goes to some truly bizarre places, the violence plentiful and there are a ton of oddball surprises all along the way.
The movie even has a sense of humor as well, though it feels like an unsettling waking nightmare most of it’s run time, there’s something truly comforting about having Nic Cage there with you as your guide through the mayhem of it all. It gives you a sense of hope that just maybe you’ll make it out of it all alive somehow. There’s also a strong heavy metal vibe to film, not just in it’s imagery but also in the score, which is completely breathtaking in it’s thunderous doom metal delivery through the hellish otherworldly landscapes. The music here is incredible and liley half of the charm of why Mandy works so damn well honestly.
There’s also cool hand drawn animated interludes that bring to mind the 1981 cult classic “Heavy Metal” in the best ways possible. Add in amazing practical fx work, crazy gore, epic weapon crafting, chainsaws, Goblin Mac & Cheese (just wait and see), drugs galore, demonic cenobite like bikers and a sweet ass cameo from Predator’s Bill Duke and you’ve got yourself one truly freaky epic horror masterpiece unlike anything you’ve like ever seen before. I can’t say enuff good things about this movie, it’s still floating around in my head four days after viewing it. I can though easily say that Mandy thus far is my favorite movie of 2018!
Damn! I recently found a rare copy of The Suckling (AKA Sewage Baby) from 1990 on vhs and it easily goes down as one of the most controversial schlock horror films of all time. This little weirdo of a movie give us a truly unsettling plot of revenge you’re likely not going to find anywhere else. So what makes this movie any different than any other horror movie? Well the dicey plot is surely going to offend a large number of folks, especially in 2017.
It goes something like this, a young couple considering having an abortion, heads off to an inner city brothel to contemplate this tough decision. Because of course that’s a great place to ponder things like this! Of course things don’t go quite as planned as the loser boyfriend who’s eagerly pressuring his girlfriend to go through with it arranges for her to meet with the head Mistress “Big Mama” to run through the details of the procedure. Well Mama has other plans as she drugs the young woman and orders one of her “employees” to help her go through with it without the woman’s consent. Totally normal stuff there huh?! Well they then proceed to flush the fetus down the toilet and we follow it’s journey as it arrives in the sewer, leading us to a pretty memorable horror movie moment. Pretty goddamn weird huh? I’ve gotta say though, nothing gets too gruesome here thus far as the movie’s clearly spent ALL of it’s money on the monster and that’s a good thing. So no real worries about being grossed out by realism.
To make matter even worse, we then see the fetus is sitting in a pile of toxic waste that’s seeping into the ground from above and quickly begins to mutate into full grown pissed off monster who’s hell bent on revenge from the the people who’ve sent him to his doom. I mean talk about a political statement huh? This one’s definitely NOT for everyone and the filmmaker likely had some strong feelings in the topic? Or maybe they just simply thought it’d be a good setup for a creature feature? Looking at it as a revenge flick, it’s actually got a pretty inventive plot no matter what side of the argument you stand on.
Things get nasty pretty quickly inside the brothel and soon the monster is trapping the people inside with a nasty membrane that begins to grow around any exits the house has. Pretty much everyone in this movie is either a moron or a total asshole, so seeing them get picked off is never all heartbreaking. We got a ton of bad acting, combined with some attempts at decent action scenes & surprisingly solid monster effects that utilize some cool animatronics along with an impressive man in suit monster. That’s the interesting thing here, the creature actually is pretty cool and stands strong alongside some of the best b-movie monsters of the 80’s & early 90’s. I’ve gotta give them props for that.
Yep, the movie’s whole budget likely went into the monster effects & the funniest thing about it all is that on the back of the vhs they say this “THE SUCKLING has been compared to Alien for its claustrophobic intensity and Die Hard for its non-stop action.” Sounds kinda like the best movie ever huh? Well I’m not quite sure who decided to compare it to those because inventive as it all is it really never quite hits the mark of either of those films. Instead though what you get is an enjoyable offensive schlocky monster movie that’s exceeds just with the pure outrageousness of it storyline. This one is definitely not for everyone but if you’re a fan of odd-ball vintage cinema you’re likely to wanna track this little flick down and be fully ready to go full on mystery Science Theater 3000 on it!