Monday, January 21, 2019

freakboy on film: BUTCHER, BAKER, NIGHTMARE MAKER (1981)

"Perverts and sluts!  They are doing everything they can to take him away from us." - Aunt Cheryl

                               Screenplay by 
     Steve Breimer, Alan Jay Glueckman & Boon Collins 
                                   Directed by 
                                  William Asher 

I had never heard of this film, until I noticed, via Twitter, that Turner Classic Movies would be showing it for their TCM Underground, which typically airs on Friday night/early Saturday mornings.  TCM Underground has introduced me to some great little films.  I'm an early riser, so I may or may not have accidentally on purpose woken an hour and a half earlier than usual to catch this obscure cinematic gem.

From the terrific title alone, I was expecting a trippy, surreal, pre-Nightmare on Elm Street exploration of night terrors.  I was wrong. What I got was a psychological, pseudo-slasher film siphoned from the vein of Psycho.  If Aunt Cheryl ran a motel, this could nearly be a prequel to Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece. 

Poor little Billy (Jimmy McNichol, borrowing his sister's hairstyle) lost his parents in a very spectacular and extremely suspicious car accident and had to be raised by his doting and lonely Aunt Cheryl (Susan Tyrrell, forever altering how I view Cry-Baby).  Billy, on the other hand, has grown into a not so lonely young man.  He has a sweet, caring, patient girlfriend (a pre-Newhart Julia Duffy) and he knows he can always rely on his coach (Steve Eastin), who wants to see Billy get into college on a basketball scholarship.  Life seems pretty good for Billy until Aunt Cheryl asks him to contact the repairman so their television set can be serviced. 

Aunt Cheryl is a firm advocate for more sex on television

 Aunt Cheryl, all dressed up and ready for love, is hoping the TV isn't the only thing to get serviced.  She literally throws herself at the repairman who refuses her voracious advances, finally shoving her away.  Well, Aunt Cheryl will not be ignored.  She reacts very negatively by grabbing a knife, killing the repairman and then claiming he was going to rape her.  

Billy, who witnessed the murder, believes his aunt.  A police detective (Bo Svenson), on the other hand, does not.  The detective discovers an inscription on the repairman's ring which romantically links the deceased with Billy's basketball coach.  In the detective's mind, Billy killed the repairman in a lover's quarrel and Aunt Cheryl is covering for her nephew.  The extremely homophobic police detective refuses to believe any other scenario, even as evidence to the contrary and dead bodies begin piling up.

For being homophobic, the police detective sure enjoys whipping out his big thing in front of other men. 

There are lots of twists and turns and familial revelations before the story concludes in a shockingly impressive way for the notoriously homophobic decade of the 1980's.  SPOILER: the police detective is NOT the hero of the film and Billy justifiably shoots him dead.  I give credit to the lingering effect of the 1970's, that magical decade where it seemed that Americans were making a real effort to understand and maybe even accept one another, at least on television and in the cinema. 

I rarely say this about a film, but maybe it's time for a remake.  A contemporary version could more honestly explore Billy's sexuality and what skeletons may be lurking in the detective's tightly sealed closet.  A fresh look could also tighten up the script a bit and give a little more insight into Aunt Cheryl's delusional mind.  Yet, perhaps these aspects are best left for the audience to ponder after the final credit rolls.

Aunt Cheryl knows a glass of special milk will help Billy seriously relax. 

BUTCHER, BAKER, NIGHTMARE MAKER isn't quite the groundbreaking psychological suspense-horror thriller that it could've been, but it's worth watching.  So, relax, pour yourself a glass of milk and enjoy this tale of love, loneliness, hate and serious family dysfunction.

Freak Out, 

P.S. A piece of 1980's horror that scarred me for life...
My autobiographical Kindle e-book of half-blind poems is out there.

For more information on VISION BENT, please visit The JLH Collective...
...or an AMAZON near you...

Thursday, January 10, 2019

4 Things You Should Know About VISION BENT

While I'm putting the finishing touches on my upcoming book of half-blind poems, here is a brief list of things you should know about VISION BENT... 

1.)  It's short because that's how I feel poetry books should be. 

2.)  It's autobiographical, but not every poem is about my damaged eyes. 

3.)  It's not only filled with poems, but they are the center that everything else revolves around. 

4.)  It will be initially released as an e-book, with a possible print edition to follow.  I'm focusing on the e-book first so others with damaged eyes can have their tablets or smartphones read my half-blind poems to them.

Thank you for your patience and encouragement.  Plus, as always, thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words.

Freak Out, 

Monday, January 7, 2019

freakboy muses music: 2019 THEME SONG

No, I'm not talking about a song from the opening credits of a television show.  Though that would be fun, especially after the album of cartoon theme songs I recently listened to.  Yes, it was to hear Josie and the Pussycats, but that's another post for another day.  

I'm talking about songs we connect to people, places and events.  Sometimes these music connections originate organically and sometimes we purposely assign the songs.  Sometimes the words to the song may not even make sense with the person, place or event, but the spirit is forever captured in the tune.

I've often made these music connections in my life.  In my youth, I considered All I Really Want by Alanis Morissette to be my personal theme song.  I'm not sure if it still applies, but I understand why I thought it suited me.  I've even had a song pull double duty.  I've assigned Pretend to be Nice by Josie and the Pussycats, from the 2001 film soundtrack, to two different people.  Ok.  Yes.  Fine.  I will one day blog about my freakish obsession with Josie and the Pussycats.  It's probably not as interesting or weird as my Perry Como obsession, but it may be worth writing about.

Back in 2003, while dealing with my mom being in and out of the hospital, I found myself turning to Love Profusion by Madonna for strength.  I also found comfort in Wicked Little Town from the soundtrack to the 2001 film of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.  See what I mean?  I'm not sure the latter makes sense, but these songs now take me back to that emotional time in my life. 

Over the last couple of years, I've made music connections that essentially became theme songs for the entirety of the year.  2017 was pretty much consumed by the entire soundtrack to Carrie the Musical, though many other albums and songs also helped me through my chunk of vision loss.  2018 belonged to the song Madly by FIELDED.  These connections came about naturally and unexpectedly, but this year I am taking control and choosing a theme song. 

I'm returning to the soundtrack to Hedwig and the Angry Inch and choosing Wig in a Box for my 2019 theme song.  Tragically, I'm not going to transform into a transgender-punk rock diva.  However, if I was going to, I'd want to be the love child of Hedwig and Divine, though I draw the line at eating dog shit. 

Anyhoo, I'm choosing Wig in a Box because of its overall theme of finding a way to be the best version of yourself.  After dealing with relearning life in a visually diminished world in 2017 and struggling through the emotional mess of 2018, I need to claim an upbeat, life-affirming theme song for 2019.   

Hopefully, with my blogs and my upcoming book of half-blind poems, I will find the best version of myself that you've ever seen.  

Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words.

Freak Out, 

P.S.  I'm such a tease...