Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Hagstone Demon: That Was $5 and 103 Minutes I Will Never Get Back

Seen at Atlanta Horrorfest October 2nd, 2009

Director: Jon Springer
Writers: Harrison Matthews, Jon Springer
Release Date: 23 January 2009 (USA) 103 minutes

Mark Borchardt ... Douglas Elmore
Nadine Gross ... Karna / Mary Anne Riley  
Cyndi Kurtz ... Barbara Halloway  
Sasha Andreev ... Fr. Carl Becker
Gizelle Erickson ... Julie Elizabeth Elmore
Marilyn Murray ... Mrs. Brennan
Jay Smiley ... Mr. Thompson
Lung Leg ... Mrs. Riley


KELLY
I really don't even know what to say about this movie. The basic plot of this movie is there are some strange goings-on in this apartment building, the Hagstone. The building's condemned and it's going to be torn down, then a couple of people die and none of it seems connected. None of it connects until like the last 15 minutes of the movie. But even then, it's not like one of those movies where everything seems disjointed until the very end and then there's an "A-HA" moment where it comes together and you go "Oh, now I get it." No, that never happens. Even when it tries to connect everything in this movie, it's only very loosely connected and you come out thinking "Wow, that's real crap."

PATRICE
It's as if they ran out of ideas.  The premise that you get going into the movie, before you know anything really, is that the guy who is the lead character, Douglas, has gotten a job as the caretaker/maintenance dude in this building that's set to be demolished in 6 months time. So, for some reason, even though the building is not going to be around in 6 months, it’s decided a guy is needed to do this job. So we come in and he's doing the job, the people in the building are weird, they talk to him a lot. It’s the basic setup where you have the quirky unusual characters, you see him going from apartment to apartment doing maintenance type stuff and there's this one girl that's apparently homeless and has taken up residence in this weird room that an offshoot of the laundry room.





KELLY
The caretaker guy, Douglas, has decided that since the building is about to be torn down, he might as well let the homeless girl sleep there.

So that's the setup.

When the movie first started, I thought at first it was supposed to be campy, like it was aware that the acting was bad, that it was done on purpose. But as the movie progressed, I got the impression that they really didn't mean to do that. There were supposed to be some comedic elements, but it wasn't supposed to be crappy bad throughout the entire film. It's like they weren't in on their own joke. I'm talking, but I really don't know how to describe it. It's as though half the time it seemed like it was serious and the other half you thought they were poking fun at themselves. I could never figure it out.

PATRICE
I think you'll get some insight if you see Mark in his documentary, American Movie, which is about him trying to make a movie. I think he'll make more sense, because what you see in Hagstone Demon, that's basically him. It's like he just walked into this movie as himself and just read these lines. It was really strange.

Another thing about the movie, without going off on weird tangents, is that we know at the beginning that Douglas was married to a woman, Julie, who is now dead. And it’s established early on that she killed herself and he tells the story of how he came home and found her dead in a chair, she had shot herself. Then the film pairs this with these weird scenes of half naked people. I kept thinking that there some of allusions that she was hallucinating or something. I didn't think they were real people until they really waaaay into the movie when they start explaining what that was all about.

KELLY
It wasn't strung together in a way that made any sense.

PATRICE
Yeah, no kidding, they kept bringing in other story lines that completely threw you off. Like the old woman and the neighbor, they really had nothing to do with anything, and then they're all of a sudden dead. And the other neighbor woman, Barbara, she was just there.

KELLY
Her part in the story, I get why they felt they needed her for the ending, sort of. Perhaps they wanted another basic, normal character, though I think they ended up building up a bigger part for her in this movie when they realized she was the only one in it that could act! Seriously, she's the only one in this movie that gave a believable performance, especially given what she had to work with.

[LAUGHING OUR ASSES OFF] She really deserves an Oscar because that movie was amazing crap.

[STILL LAUGHING...] I just cannot get over this movie, I digress...

But intially, Barbara is just popping in and out randomly and then all of sudden, at the end, she's a pivotal character in this movie, and you're thinking "why now all of a sudden?"

PATRICE
And yet it turns out that she really has nothing to do with any of it, she's really just there. The film had to have somebody else besides just him and the homeless girl, and her demon pimp.

[FALLING INTO HYSTERICAL LAUGHTER AGAIN] So the girl downstairs was really a demon prostitute and had a demon pimp!

KELLY
And she had a demon cat, come to find out...

PATRICE
And what was the line Douglas says, I swore I wasn't going to forget this, the line he says to the old woman who's being nosey? The old woman calls the homeless girl a cheap dirty blonde and Douglas says "even cheap dirty blondes gotta live somewhere"...

KELLY
...which is a damn good thing for the two of us!

One of the funnier parts towards the beginning of the movie is when Douglas has a prostitute in the car with him, and the prostitute is starting to go down on him. In the process of it, his dead wife pops up and slaps her face against the passenger side window, scaring the crap out of him, causing him to jerk his leg up and kneeing the hooker! That tickled me, that part was pretty damn funny.

And the cat that the homeless woman has is one of those hairless sphinx cats, you know, the naked Mr. Bigglesworth from Austin Powers...

PATRICE
...yeah, only in really sad condition! It was all spotty...

KELLY
...I honestly wonder if they just took a random cat and shaved it, because that sucker looked rough and it had this weird tuft of hair oddly placed behind its ear. It was the saddest sphinx cat I've ever seen. And it would just slink around the entire time...

PATRICE
...it sort of looked like it was limping the entire movie, it was just really bizarre, the way it walked, it wasn't smooth like a regular cat.

KELLY
It was a sad excuse for a sphinx cat.

PATRICE
It really was! I was so mesmerized by this ugly cat.

But anyway, going way back in the conversation to the neighbor, I couldn't tell if they were trying to depict her as overly concerned or if she was maybe into Douglas? She kept trying to get close to him and I'm thinking "Yeah, I'm not buying it."

KELLY
First of all, the main character, Douglas, is not the most attractive guy in the world. It’s like they went out of the way to make him seem extra frumpy. Or is that really him?

PATRICE
That's basically what he looked like in American Movie, with the glasses and everything.

KELLY
He's by no means a 'movie star' guy.

PATRICE
Well, you could probably dress him up to make him look more normal but he's got to have the worst style going on I've ever seen.

KELLY
Well, so you have Douglas, and then you have this woman, Barbara, who is actually very attractive. She's not over the top, she's not trashy, she's a hot MILF is what this woman is. I thought she was quite pretty, and she just keeps going over to his place, just keeps dropping by. I couldn't figure out if there was a sexual tension that was being created or what, but if that was the case, they did a poor job of it. That just made no sense to me.

PATRICE
Another thing that didn't make sense was the narration. It would just drop in randomly, I guess, when they felt they needed to explain something. You'd all of a sudden hear the voice of Douglas "I knew some heavy shit was about to come down..."

And you know what else? What did they do with the kid?

KELLY
Oh yeah, Barbara had a kid at the beginning of the movie, what did happen to him? He was there, and then he wasn't. Barbara mentioned he was at her mom's at one point, so I guess he's just been planted there for the last several weeks.

PATRICE
Probably the actor kid's parents said "Ok, you can film him for only so many hours a day, then he has to be home..."

KELLY
And then they saw the dailies and they were like "Hell no my kid's not being in this movie!"

You know, it’s not just the kid missing. At the beginning of the movie, the building is made to look as though it has all these tenants roaming about the halls, and then suddenly there's only two tenants left. You'd think the film would have done a better job of showing the process of people moving out, since that was a key point of the plot. And it really didn't seem like that much time had elapsed.

PATRICE
Douglas started the movie saying there were 6 months left and then it seems like only a week has passed and then there's just a handful of people, one of which is old Mr. Thompson, who turns out to be a demon...

KELLY
...pimp...

PATRICE
Yes, a demon pimp. [LAUGHING]

KELLY
[Laughing] Which, by the way, when he turns into a demon [LAUGHING], that has to be one of the best visuals in cinematic history. The special effects were just brilliant! [LAUGHING]

PATRICE
It’s like they took one of those rubber haunted house partial bodies that's hollow inside so they could feed tubes through it and had some sort of ectoplasm coming out of him. Only it came out in the most unnatural possible way, all over poor Barbara.

KELLY
Oh my, that was just bad. [STILL LAUGHING]

PATRICE
She's suddenly covered in demon snot. [LAUGHING]

KELLY
As I'm watching this I'm thinking that first, I'm mad I paid money to see this and also, there goes my Friday night, but secretly I'm wondering, is this going to be one of those movies like The Room or Plan 9, where it's just so freakishly bad that people will want to see it? Because if that's the case, then I can be "dude, I was there and saw it when it first came out."

PATRICE
And here's another thing...you know everyone watching this with us was thinking "ok, this is weird, that's strange, what the hell is going on," and then we all just bust out laughing and from that point on, we can't stop!

KELLY
There were a couple of points in the middle where people snickered, but I think at first, everyone in the audience was wondering "is this just artsy and above me?"

PATRICE
Whatever, they were drunk! The judges were passing around a fifth!

KELLY
Yeah, they were a little drunk weren't they! But initially, I think people were hesitant to laugh, because I was wondering if it was supposed to be so artsy that maybe I just wasn't getting it. But then we all came to the realization "No, its just crap."

PATRICE
It really was just that bad. We were maybe halfway through it and I thought of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and oh my, this would be perfect! There were just so many scenes where there was no dialogue and there's really nothing to latch onto that explains what's going on, so it would be ideal to have stream of consciousness commenting going on.

If I were to go back and analyze the movie, there are so many things that really made no sense and were illogical. I think that they thought that no one was going to notice or that it wasn't going to matter. For example, Douglas has just moved into this building, but he's going down into this crawlspace under the kitchen floor and there's a box with his wife's gun in it and he says "It's been a year since I buried this here." But he's only been there for a few weeks!

Okay, this next part is a spoiler, so if you hate those, skip this section, though I doubt you'll pay to see this film now!

And then he goes down into that same hole after the demon girl and there's a whole room down there where the corpse of his dead wife is reanimated. So, he's been down there to bury a gun, how did he not know there was this whole catacomb of rooms?

KELLY
Douglas is crawling in the crawlspace and you see the demon woman, the homeless girl, aka the demon prostitute. She's just hanging out down there for some reason. They don't make her jump out or anything, she's just there. She's now full-fledged demon. Before she was just wacky weird, just sort of cracked-out, but now she has demon eyes. But she's down in the crawlspace and Douglas runs across her with the flashlight and nonchalantly says "Ok, I see her."

PATRICE
It was like if you had a puppy or a kitten that crawled under the house and you went looking for it. He shines the light in her eyes and she just looks at him and he calls "Ok, she's down here." It was at that point that everyone in the theater lost it. I could not stop laughing.

KELLY
I will say that when she went missing in the crawlspace, that was actually a little nerve-wracking. It did put me on edge. As much as I like horror movies, I don't like things jumping at me, I cannot take it. So I'm thinking just great, I've been laughing my ass off at this movie and now it’s going to get its revenge. And there's that one moment when she does jump out, and it did scare the crap out of me, but that does not make it a horror movie!

PATRICE
There are so many layers of nonsensical crap in this movie. At one point, Douglas gets Barbara to take him to see his brother-in-law, Julie's brother, who just happens to be a priest. When they see him, the priest is explaining to Barbara the marriage of Douglas and Julie and that they were Satanists and they were participating in this conception ritual. It just keeps getting weirder and weirder. But none of that ever really played into the plot line. It didn't matter that he was a priest, but it’s like the writers thought it would be, I don't know, ironic or something?

KELLY
It was if they were trying to do this hybrid of Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist, only they failed miserably.

PATRICE
It was a lot like Eraserhead if you ask me. Most especially the weird scene with the slimy dead wife reanimating. I had a flashback to Eraserhead with whatever that creature was, that thing that lays in the cradle and looks like a horse fetus. Ugh! It’s one of those things you can't get out of your head, the weird slimy texture...

KELLY
Oh! And the demon cat!

PATRICE
How could we forget the demon cat! How could we possibly forget Victoria the demon cat? Played by Stella the cat, you know, because Stella was just the wrong name for a demon cat. They had to give her a stage name. [LAUGHING]

KELLY
So the reanimated wife comes out of the crawlspace, slashes the priest, her brother, and goes missing. The priest is now laying there dying, a gash across his throat, but he amazingly has the energy to talk in complete sentences. So he's bleeding out when he conveniently remembers "here, I have my sister's wedding band that she mailed to me before she died, destroy it and it will be all right." Why didn't he think about that to begin with?

PATRICE
And he says "how do you kill a demon? You throw it in the fire." Where did that come from? And then he gives Douglas the ring and I'm thinking, um, yeah, that's not her, it’s a ring.

KELLY
I guess they're trying to say it’s all about the symbolism, since there was the marriage ritual they did, but...

PATRICE
You mean the ritual with they're all standing around with no tops on?

KELLY
So, back to the demon cat. Douglas and Barbara take the wedding ring down the boiler room so they can throw the ring in the furnace, only they don't throw it in the furnace. They just stand there staring at the furnace. Then suddenly Barbara grabs her head as if she just can't take it anymore and goes and leans against the wall, next to this gaping hole where the trash chute opens out. Then, out of the blackness of the hole the cat's head pops out. Now, I have to admit, that was a freaky, freaky looking devil-cat-thing. But here's the thing: it’s just sitting there, staring. It’s not doing a damn thing, only sitting.

PATRICE
It doesn't make a sound or anything, just hangs out in the wall.

KELLY
It doesn't move into view quickly, it doesn't try to bite anyone, doesn't growl or nothing, just sits there. However, it is a really terrifying looking thing, so that's probably good that it didn't make any sudden movements, or I may have shat myself. It looked like if Mr. Bigglesworth mated with Sloth from The Goonies, this would be the love child.

PATRICE
Its eyes were huge and black and its teeth were all over the place, its skin was all wrinkled and then it was also covered in whatever the slimy goo stuff was.

KELLY
At this point, Douglas pulls out a gun and gets confused, do I shoot the demon cat or do I shoot Barbara? Really? Is there really a choice?

PATRICE
He's pointing the gun at Barbara and is saying "Get away from her you bitch." Barbara just looks at him and goes "What?" And I'm thinking the same thing, “What?”

KELLY
Barbara finally convinces Douglas not to shoot her, gee, and decides they have to end the madness, once again, gee. She slowly takes the ring and sticks the ring on one of the cat's wonky teeth. Huh?

PATRICE
She takes the ring and puts it on her finger and just sticks her hand in the dark hole where the evil cat-mutant-thing is. I was trying to figure out what she was doing because we all know the demon cat is in there and I'm thinking, hello, it’s going to bite you. And it does. They have this excruciatingly long scene where her finger is in its mouth and when she finally pulls her finger away there are jets of blood coming out of the holes where it bit her. I still don't understand the point of that, but then they show the cat and it has the ring dangling off its multiple pointy teeth and they shoot it. I guess we're supposed to think by giving it the ring that belonged to Julie and then blowing it to smithereens that it would somehow get rid of Julie?

KELLY
Hey, maybe Julie was supposed to be the cat! That just occurred to me.

PATRICE
She was? So she was jumping from body to body?

KELLY
Yes! No! Wait...at the end of movie we see Julie again with all the Satanists.

PATRICE
Correct, and she was in her own body.

KELLY
So who the hell was the cat?

PATRICE
I don't know, unless the cat was the girl who owned it. Like the demon went around. I don't know if there was more than one demon at a time. You had Mr. Thompson, you had the demon prostitute, and the demon cat, but were they all separate demons or did one go from body to body?

KELLY
Who the hell knows.

PATRICE
I'm gonna have to look up this Jon Springer dude to see what else he's done and see what he's about because this movie is something else. [In case you are interested]

KELLY
If this movie is meant to be a farce then he did a fantastic job.

PATRICE
This movie was crappy, but had it not been so over the top... At first, it seemed sort of amateurish but then it got so bad that it was almost a celebration of all things bad. I think the guy who wrote it thought he was creating another Donnie Darko or something.

And what was up with the gimmick of going from black and white to color? Most of it was black and white and then there would be moments with color.

KELLY
I have no idea other than maybe they just ran out of money when filming certain parts?

This would have been a great movie to watch with pizza, friends, and a lot of liquor. There will be a drinking game with this.

PATRICE
Somebody's going to find a soundtrack to sync up with this, I'm sure of it.

I'd love to see some descriptions from others who've seen this movie and are trying to describe this. If there is a plot/storyline that is known, I'd love to see what that is.

Ah, this movie, it was so bad, it was good.

KELLY
Hmm, don't know that I would go that far.

PATRICE
I'm not saying it made it worth the $5 we spent [LAUGHING] but at least we go some entertainment out of it, though probably not the kind the film makers intended.

KELLY
So, final verdict? Don't pay to see it. Rent it? Maybe if you 18 people willing to split the $5 cost to rent the DVD. And even then you need to have a recreational substance of some sort to get you through it. I think if you sat and watched this by yourself you'd hate yourself for watching it. You have to have somebody to laugh with while watching this movie.

PATRICE
It’s definitely more entertaining with other people; it wouldn't be nearly as much fun watching it alone. This way, you can look at each other and go WTF is going on! And honestly, the more we laughed, the better it was.

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