Recognizing seasoned female horror directors is my forte. Most important, the artists who fade into obscurity, only to ascend from the shadows with aspirations to razzle dazzle us once more. Jackie Kong is one of many on that noble list. She’s an inspiration to me and every other ambitious filmmaker across the world. One might even say she was destined to become a filmmaker considering her mother was a good friend of Marlon Brando. Kong had a chance to show the fans what she was made of but did she leave a lasting impression? Her stylish sense of humor is up to the same calibre as Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead and Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive. Illustrative example, Blood Diner; A neon and blood soaked horror-comedy hybrid that ages like a fine wine, to which I feel is her champion composition.
Blood Diner is not a spoof, much like Dracula: Dead and Loving It or one of the million Scary Movie sequels. This is a genuine, ridiculously over-the-top horror movie. The 80’s slasher genre is the best of its kind. It’s a highly misconceived cult classic. You could say this is an unsung film for the bona fide horror fans to respect. This teased and moosed, red-leather clad slice of cheese is an all you can eat buffet of perpetual carnage and moments of laughter. The comedic over tones are clear from the first lines in the film where a mother tells her sons, George and Michael, that she “ran out of God damn tampons.” Maybe lady Kong couldn’t resist depositing a maladroit menses zinger in the dialogue. This is followed by an announcement on the radio regarding a deranged psycho on the loose with a meat clever in one hand and his testicles in the other. Wait…. What? Any way, the psychopath turns out to be the kid’s Uncle who worships an archaic Goddess named “Shiitar” and he manages to bestow Shiitar’s precious jewelry onto the boys before being shot to death by police. That’s the film’s opening! Time for the spine-tingling title theme where the title credits fail to make its cue! Nice editing skills. The remainder of the film surrounds George and Michael as they carry their dead Uncle’s brains around a jar, who convinces the boys to venture out on a killing spree in order to construct the perfect vessel for this Shiitar demon bitch.
So what makes Blood Diner so ridiculously over-the-top? Where to begin…. Shopping lists with six dog dicks. Guy getting his eye balls knocked out of his sockets with one knock of shovel. Dead brains are brought back to life and given the ability to make verbal contact through a glass jar. Exploding heads. Cheerleaders working out in the nude (Is nude aerobics a thing?) before the presidents of the United States open fire (Point Break, anyone?) and carve their ‘assets’ to create a new Shiitar. A girl’s head is battered and deep-fried before running around like a chicken with her head cut off. DEATH BY BROOM! Bodies cut completely in half. Naked girls performing kung-fu. A gentleman’s head is run over by a ghetto hopping car and his buddy asks, “You okay?” All while the crowd is laughing. Lets not forget, Hitler as a wrestler. The list goes on and on but nothing tops six dog dicks. One of the more preposterous scenes is when the cops are talking to a ventriloquism dummy without raising hairs. Yea, that totally passes for an actual human being. I had forgotten about this scene so a part of me questioned if I had a little too much Jameson and began imagining things.
Had this film not been made in the 80’s, no one would be talking about it. You could also say it serves as an unofficial sequel to Blood Feast, one of my least favorite video nasties of all time. There’s no Special Edition DVD. Instead of being treated fairly to a proper re-release, it’s crapped into a package with three other films. The VHS prices on EBAY, Amazon, and our VHS groups are pricy and hard to find but to watch this film on DVD, especially in that condition, seems sacrilegious. I highly recommend tracking a copy down if you have the means.
The Being is more challenging for me to pick apart because it failed to leave a lasting impression upon the first viewing and I remained adamant upon the last viewing. It’s not the worst of horror films but it edges close and I wouldn’t recommend it to die-hard horror fans who managed to let this title slip through the cracks. Here’s a quick rundown; Quintessential low-rent toxic waste killer mutant travesty that was filmed in Idaho of all places. You know, where potatoes come from y’all. The pacing just drags on and the inadequate ‘performances’ had me convinced that the actors were held by gun point. Not even the great Martin Landau could save this movie. Unlike Blood Diner, The Being is not one of those “So Bad It’s Good” films. That being said, it was the result of her first feature film so I suppose The Being could have been worse. All filmmakers have to start somewhere.
Jackie Kong’s films may not have won over film lovers across the globe, not even with slapstick comedy ‘Night Patrol’ starring Linda Blair. Though, Night Patrol claims to be a box office success with a Platinum Award under its belt. Kong still didn’t go completely unnoticed. Quentin Tarantino claims Blood Diner is a favorite of his. She even made it to television by directing two episodes of the Asian-American sitcom, Karaoke Nights. Now, Ms. Kong is making a come back, delivering a modern-day spin on Romeo and Juliet titled, “Co-EXISTENCE,” starring Rutger Hauer, Daryl Hannah, John Savage, Nick Krause, and Bella Thorne.
The official website’s plot outline: “The story unfolds in the fog-shrouded Russian River Valley, a bucolic wine making region of Sonoma. The two young star-crossed lovers, Romeo & Juliet must overcome a longstanding hatred between their esteemed, but feuding wine-making families, the Moldavis and the Cabochons. Based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, “CoExistence”, faithfully follows the spirit and one of the original Elizabethan tale, but this modern-day telling has a surprise twist. We know, sudden heart racing romances have the potential to go awry, but theirs takes a monumental wrong turn quickly. They meet when Romeo crashes the Cabochon’s masked costume ball, sparking their love. Juliet’s family is different from mere mortal beings, and at the ball her parents announce her pending marriage to the wildly successful wine mogul Charles Ponzia (considered one of their own), whom she has just met.”
Good luck, Ms. Kong! We are all rooting for you.