Seems that while listening to the Cramps and reading about Ghoulardi, I took the term ‘Stay Sick’ to heart. So without further delay:
Back in the year of our lord nineteen-hundred and eighty seven, back before the accessibility of internet porn and MySpace, you had to go to Morocco to get your kicks. Or so that’s what our man Frank’s mind as he shows up to buy himself the evil older brother of a Rubik’s Cube off of Chairman Mao.
Shirtless, sweaty and surrounded by candles, Frank spends an evening fiddling with his box. Instead of going blind, the poor boy gets torn apart by chains and hooks. I guess he hadn’t paid off his student loans yet and Sallie Mae will find you, no matter where you are.
We’re transported to some backroom in disarray. Eschewing both health and sanitation standards fitting a YMCA locker room and a Arby’s Kitchen, this room gives us the first introduction to the CENOBITES, which is a word that means “people with piercings less outlandish than your average goth teenager.”
Frank’s clearly gone to pieces – HAR, HAR – and we’re then whisked away! To a family home. A lawyerly guy and his wife with EIGHTIES HAIR go about it, finding rot and ruin everywhere. Subprime mortgage has left the house and so have the cleaners.
Up in the attic, a crude figurine found on a squatter’s mattress has Dad saying ‘FRANK!’ leaves us to believe that they’re related. The pictures that Mom finds leaves us to see Frank is perverted. But what’s this? Mom pockets a photo? Despite the rotting food and pornography, Mom – character named Julia – and Dad – Larry – move in.
Daughter Kristy wanders into a Journey music video.
And we’re back to the house to visit. We learn that Julia is a step-mom (DRAMA!) and that it’s never good to give sweaty movers Beer until AFTER the put your mattress up on the 2nd floor.
Through the power of FLASHBACK, we see Julia and Frank having a bit of an affair, put against scenes of DANGEROUS BED MOVING. Larry screws up his hand and the corn syrup starts to flow like fake blood!
But this must be HIGH FRUCTOSE corn syrup. Not only does it pack on the pounds, it generates a whole new body! Julia figures that it’s better to hang out with the bloodless, skinless corpse than endure her husband’s friends at a dinner party and a plot is developed! Which is good, because we’re a 3rd way into the movie and I was starting to wonder when the plot would show up.
Kristy, looking oh-so-80’s fabulous, is out on a date when we see a homeless man that could be Alan Moore, Grizzly Addams or your uncle after avoiding shaving for a whole month.
More nightmare scenarios (literally) follow, with Kristy’s boyfriend having messed up dreams that would make Freud foam at the mouth.
Meanwhile! Julia needs BLOOD! Or Frank does. They both do so how do you get a bunch of blood? Why, you go ahead and murder some bald-headed stranger looking for sex you meet in a bar. Of course, if she were around today – CRAIG’S LIST.
Blood does a body good, since Frank is turning into one of those clear anatomic dolls you’d find in those science-based toy shops, the ones your distant relative might have taken you to when you really wanted to go somewhere fun. That dread is seen on Julia’s face as she goes about her killing of men.
Cue! A scene! Where a homeless guy eats a handful of pet store grasshoppers! Kristy, working at this Pet Shop, tells the man to get out! And he’s gone!
At this point, Frank looks likes a skinless Ben Kingsley. He tells about how he came to be this quivering mass of blood and guts, all through his magic little box.
Sure, open it up and you get a visit from Pinhead and all his pals. But they play too rough, which is why Frank had to get out of there. Plus, they only wanted to listen to Skinnypuppy all the time and that could drive anyone MAD.
More nonsense continues, resulting in Kristy coming home during one of Julia/Frank’s swinger sessions. Frank gets all Aphex Twin ‘Come to Daddy’ (but not as scary). The scuffle results with Kristy throwing the evil puzzle box out the house, escaping and recovering the trinket in time for a mental breakdown.
Waking up in the hospital, she decides to go all WHAT DOES THIS THING DO? which has her enter an evil dimension with a beast that may have come off of one of those Pro-Life posters you see waved about by fundie Christians every Saturday outside a Planned Parenthood.
Escaping the monster, the girl decides to whack the box to get it to work because this is 1987 and people were convinced that you can get things to work better through physical violence. This summons the Industrial Goth Metal group known as THE CENOBITES and they get all flirty on young Kristy. TEAR YOUR SOUL APART and so.
A deal is struck. Frank in exchange for Kristy. MEANWHILE! Frank talks Julia into letting Larry be the next on THE PRICE IS RIGHT! and while he goes to play Plinko, Frank gets all Showcase Showdown on his blood, taking his skin in a whole ‘fool the legion of hell that is chasing after me by looking like someone else’ scam.
Kristy eventually sees through the grossness. So Frank and Julia decided to play a game of HIDE THE SWITCHBLADE with Kristy. Julia loses the game.
Frank goes in for the kill, announces himself as ‘Your Dear Ol’ Uncle Frank’ which is TODAY’S SECRET WORD!
As one expected, Frank gets torn apart. But the Cenobites are greedy sorts. They want Kristy as well. But it seems that solving the puzzle box sends these leather clad creeps back to wherever they came from, so Kristy does that. Her boyfriend and the pro-life monster show up to prolong this part of the movie until everything that is SUPPOSED to be in Hell is back there. It’s like cleaning up your room and rearranging your sock drawer, but not as thrillseeking.
We end this movie in some burning fields since this is 1987 and shit was always on fire back then. Homeless Alan Moore shows up again to pick up the box that Kristy has placed down in fire, which catches HIM on fire. I guess eating crickets makes you highly flammable. He turns into a winged demon seen last on a King Crimson album cover and flies off to the night, where the box is returned to the careful hands of Chairman Mao and THE WHOLE MOVIE CAN START OVER AGAIN!
Multiple sequels have spawned off of this one movie. No duh, right? Something about the characters seemed to spawn a following. They didn’t seem evil, just over enthusiastic about their hobbies. I could put a hard-right slant on this, saying that “the search for excessive pleasure leads to hell” and what not, but c’mon. If you’re buy strange boxes off of communists in Turkey, then you’re pretty much too far gone. Once you buy the ticket, ask yourself ‘Am I really expecting to find good things in Morocco?”
Probably. Who knows? Just be careful with that box.
We talked about Pinhead before and the possible reimaging of the character before. Check it out.