100 Days of Horror welcomes you to ... SATANFEST 2013

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"Y'all know me, know how I earn a livin'. I'll catch this bird for you, but it ain't gonna be easy. Bad fish! Not like going down to the pond and chasing bluegills and tommycods. This shark, swallow ya whole. Little shakin', little tenderizin', and down you go. And we gotta do it quick, that'll bring back the tourists, that'll put all your businesses on a payin' basis. But it's not gonna be pleasant! I value my neck a lot more than three thousand bucks, chief. I'll find him for three, but I'll catch him, and kill him, for ten. But you've gotta make up your minds. If you want to stay alive, then ante up. If you want to play it cheap, be on welfare the whole winter. I don't want no volunteers, I don't want no mates, there's too many captains on this island. Ten thousand dollars for me by myself. For that you get the head, the tail, the whole damn thing."

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

SatanFest 2013 - Day Six: "The Witches of Eastwick!"

Whoo! We are backed up today gentle readers, and not from any lack of fiber either. But we are
endeavoring to catch up, as difficult as it is.

As a side note, we are actually one whole movie down now, as our copy of "Noroi" is in Japanese and the subtitles didn't work. So, admittedly, I was kind of lost there so I gave up. We have our team of crack researchers delving into the matter as we speak, so we will keep you posted.

We also did a little switching and moved "Devil" behind today's feature, because it sounds like an interesting movie and I wanted to watch it with my sons, who also have discriminating tastes in film ... just like their old man!

So let's get right to this extremely funny movie that I am anxious to talk about, "The Witches of Eastwick!"

The Witches of Eastwick (1987): Directed by George Miller. Written by Michael Cristopher (Based on "The Witches of Eastwick," by John Updike). Distributed by Warner Bros.

Starring: Jack Nicholson, Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer, Susan Sarandon, Veronica Cartwright and Richard Jenkins.

Susan Sarandon wants to fuck us all ...
The DL: Three friends from the eponymous town form a mystical bond after a night of drinking and discussion about "the perfect man." Their machinations, however, summon the very devil.

The Hotness: Before you open your festering gob to shout "THIS ISN'T A HORROR MOVIE" at me around your mouthful of Spicy Chili Doritos, don't. The point was to discuss films about the Devil, and this might be the first film on the list where he actually makes an appearance. But more on that later.

This is an excellent movie, bolstered by some fine performances by some of the greatest starts of 80s cinema. And while it isn't what you would consider traditional "horror" fare, the legendary John Updike knows what is truly horrific and focuses instead on seemingly mundane things like being trapped in an unsatisfying routine with no escape. Or being the focus of gossip in a tiny one-horse-town where you can't wipe your ass without being judged on the quality of your feces. Or of hiding away your passion and talent in exchange for cold comfort and a paycheck.

Such are the lives of our three witches, and it is those weaknesses that Jack Nicholson (in the role he was born to play) exploits as he seduces and worms his way into these women's lives. His seduction is both subtle and gross, depending on the woman and the circumstances, but in each instance it is perfectly crafted to suit their mindset. And it works. Nicholson's Daryl van Horn (an anagram of "A Horny Devil") winds up having sex with all three woman, moving them into his opulent mansion and conducting ongoing affairs with them until they all wind up pregnant with his demon spawn.

Yum, saucy Jack ...
It's genius. And it's evil. And it's a perfect summation of what most people want to believe the Devil would embody if he were to actually show up an wander around - not looking all demonic and stinking of brimstone (although Cher's Alexandra pointedly tells Nicholson, "you stink," which I felt was a nod towards the traditional).And Nicholson throws himself into the role: he prances, he screams, he stomps around like a petulant child, all the while grinning so broadly he shows us every goddamned tooth in his head. It's not overacting, it's just unbridled Nicholson, doing what he does best - being a crazed, emotive madman. Even when he's spewing cherry-flavored vomit all over the place. His finest moment may be when he crawls across his bed, grinds his crotch on the mattress and deftly informs Cher that he always likes "a little pussy before lunch." I howl with laughter every time.

The other performances are just as quality: Cher is at her golden best, looking beautiful and embodying Alexandra fully, and Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeiffer are equally at the top of their game, as is the always solid Richard Jenkins. The other standout performance comes from Veronica Cartwright as the prim and proper Felicia, who goes slightly mad after bone marrow works its way into her brain. Cartwright leaves all self-preservation at the door as Felicia descends into madness - she slobbers as Jenkins spoons oatmeal into her mouth and she lasciviously runs her hands through her legs as she rants about the "turpitude" that has invaded their little Rhode Island town. She never, ever disappoints.

Nicholson on woman in society: Who needs 'em?!
The Devil You Say?: I am pretty sure, yeah. Although by the end, Nicholson is reduced to some strange, half-vegetable/half-imp looking thing that sprouts briefly in the garden before disappearing with a wisp of smoke. That left me thinking that, maybe the writers meant for him to be more of a Satyr than a demon, but I don't recall Satyrs being able to manipulate reality. No, I think that Updike's original intent was to play with the known conventions of New England witches from antiquity, who were always said to be entering into a pact with the Devil himself, not one of his lords or lesser agents. And those conventions are most certainly in play throughout the film - the witches form a coven, hold a degenerate "ritual" that is sure to offend any puritan, and enter unwittingly into a "deal" with Old Scratch. By the way, van Horn is far more deviant in Updike's book: he breaks the pact by sleeping with a much younger woman, and when the witches kill her with cancer, he simply takes off with the dead woman's brother with whom he was also having an affair. It's at this point that the witches summon their ideal men individually and make off with them. I actually like the film version of the plot better, since we get to see Jack seduce some of the sexiest women in Hollywood.

That ... is not pea soup.
Cool Stuff Someone Said: "May I ask you something? You're all church-going folk. I really want to ask you something. Do you think God knew what He was doing when He created woman? Huh? No shit! I really want to know. Or do you think it was just another one of his minor mistakes like tidal waves, earthquakes, floods! Do you think women are like that? What's the matter? You don't think God makes mistakes? Of course He does. We all make mistakes! Of course, when we make mistakes, they call it evil! When God makes mistakes, they call it nature! So whaddya think? Women. A mistake?! Or did He DO IT TO US ON PURPOSE!? Because I really want to know!"

Side Notes: In a movie packed with great actors, there is one scene that has always held a little place in my heart. Alexandra, a sculptress, walks into the shop where she sells her "booby dolls" when the owner, Mrs. Biddle, tells her that a mysterious stranger has just purchased them all. The actress - the late Helen Lloyd Breed - then delivers a soliloquy about meeting and being charmed by van Horn, and it is full of subtlety and nuance, right down to a quick lick of her fingertip before saying "it's right on the tip of my tongue!" She's amazing and she just charms my pants right off.