by Anthony King
Junesploitation is close. Can you smell it? I started a little early this year, digging into some exploitation that borders on straight art film. My good friends Bradley J. Kornish and Dan Pullen host a podcast called Movies From Hell, a show I've been lucky enough to guest on a bunch of times. In the many years since it's been going, Dan has been good enough to keep a rolling list on Letterboxd of all the movies discussed (at length and in passing) on the show. They cover everything that could be considered outre, from David Lynch's Mulholland Drive (2001) to the films of Roger Watkins, like Shadows of the Mind (1979). Last year around this time, in order to gear up for Junesploitation I decided to dedicate two days to watching a handful of films from the Watchlist From Hell. Since the Junesploitation bug is deep under my skin already, and because I had such a great time discovering some cool movies last year, I had to do it again. So here, dear reader, is my write up of the 2nd Annual Movies From Hell Film Festival (not a real film festival, just something I made up).
I kicked things off with a movie I'd first heard about from Elric Kane who, as is his personality, built this movie up to heights that were seemingly unattainable. Seemingly, being the operative word, because Sandor Stern's Pin (1988) exceeded all expectations. Leon and Ursula's father was a peculiar doctor who used a lifesized, anatomically correct, sentient (?) medical doll in his practice. The kids call the doll “Pin” (short for Pinocchio), and Leon in particular becomes obsessed with it. After a tragic accident which leaves the kids orphaned, we cut to several years later and Leon and Ursula are living together. One day Leon brings Pin home and the obsession kicks into high gear. As Ursula tries to move on with her life, Leon sinks deeper and deeper into a dark pit of compulsion, and Pin begins directing Leon to do bad things. I think the words “bonkers” and “batshit” are grossly overused, but Pin certainly fits the definition. David Hewlett as adult Leon is charming and remarkably frightening the more delusional he gets. The final shot of the film left me speechless, giving me the creeps so badly that I had to stop my wife from telling me about her nightmare right after I finished the movie.
Once again, the Movies From Hell Film Festival was a raging success, introducing me to some of the most interesting movies I've ever seen. I encourage everyone to do something similar. Make your own festival. Take a weekend and watch a bunch of weird stuff. After all, Junesploitation is right around the corner!