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Painted Box Spotlight 5: The Grotesque Killing of Mongrels

Although we haven't explored them in this column yet, the horror sections in the Psychotronic room are a bounty of oversized VHS boxes and weird paintings. So it would've only been appropriate if we had taken a look at a few of them as Halloween approached. But I forgot to post the column. Whoops. Well, here is a nice post-Halloween, pre-Thanksgiving tribute to painted horror boxes. One of my favorites is this crazy face-within-a-face-within-a-face tripout for Grotesque. The actual movie is about Linda Blair and her family being attacked by a sadistic gang of punks. Director Joe Tornatore also did Zebra Force, featured in a previous Painted Box Spotlight. Here's a vivid painting with a style that reminds me a lot of the one for Raw Force, although it might just be that they both have that Media Home Entertainment border around them. The screaming face in the far background is kind of a giallo image, but note that this apparent victim has vampire fangs. The demonoid himself, with his muscles, giant horns and glowing powers would seem at home on a corny '80s metal album cover, as would the half-naked, swooning babes and the skull next to the logo. My favorite touch though is the giant hand with the cracked fingernails taking a grab at the logo. The appeal of this one is pretty straight forward. That's a hell of a mongrel. I wouldn't want to pet that dog. The logo is pretty strange too. I'm not sure what those bird-head-things represent. This weird Phillipine movie about a guy chosen to battle the devil is popular among the Scarecrow staff. Unfortunately, the images in the movie are not nearly as awesome as the beasts and apparitions he gets to fight in this painting. Because horror is such a common entry point for no-budget independent filmmakers to try to establish themselves you end up getting a lot of these amateurishly drawn covers with a poor sense of design and human anatomy. This is one of my favorites because of the corny ax-behind-the-back gag, the out of control Corvette-driving nymphettes waving their clothes in the air, and especially the hitchhiker's left forearm, which must've been cut off at some point and re-attached incorrectly. Do you remember the scene in A Nightmare On Elm Street when Freddy's face stretched out of the wall above Nancy's bed? It must've been an image that stuck with a lot of people, since it seems to have inspired the poster art for this knock-off dream killer movie, as well as for Peter Jackson's The Frighteners. I like this painting. There's something cool about this giant bald lady who the young lovers don't seem to notice. That must mean the image is not literal, which is too bad. I'd like to see her bite off their heads. She's actual big enough to take both heads in one chomp. I don't know anything about this movie, but the cover art makes me want to see it. One problem: it was made for video. Back then video was enough of a novelty that straight-to-video seemed like something you could brag about. Oh, here's why: Can you imagine the mayhem that would've happened in that audience, with the entire screen covered in blood like that? Good thing they saved it for video. The movie is directed by David DeCoteau (Creepozoids, various Full Moon titles) and actually involves a heavy metal musician making a deal with a succubus. Previous installments: Painted Box Spotlight #1 Painted Box Spotlight Episode 2: Deadly Death Warriors Painted Box Spotlight Episode 3: Power vs. Force Painted Box Spotlight 4: Vengeance's Revenge
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