It was a balmy evening in Providence way back when in the summer of 2002 when my girlfriend and I decided to check out this small independent comedy playing at The Avon Cinema called Wet Hot American Summer. A a mere 13 years ago, the internet was nothing more than an instrument for AIM chats and thirty second AVIs of pixelated porn. It was not yet the handy resource for Googling, Facebook arguments, and copious amounts of HD porn. This is all a roundabout way of saying we had no idea what WHAS was beyond a token blurb in the movie section of the daily Journal. The most we knew was that it was an 80’s camp comedy featuring Janeane Garofalo (“HEY! I spelled her name correctly!”), Paul Rudd (“HEY! I love that guy from Clueless!”), and those hysterical dudes from The State (“HEY! Those guys!”).
Bored with nothing to do on a Friday night I decided I would seek the infinite wisdom of Netflix to figure out what to watch this evening. Despite a massive list of movies I still need to go through I decided to see what was trending, and randomly post my thoughts in (mostly) real time.
Movie: American Mary (2012)
Starring: Katharine Isabelle
Director: Jen & Sylvia Soska
Genre: Body Horror?
Full Disclosure: I love Katharine Isabelle. I remember first seeing her in Ginger Snaps all those years ago and was immediately enchanted. Perhaps it was my raging hormones, perhaps mixed with a sexually-charged werewolf coming of age tale it caused me to lust after her hypnotizing presence. Either way she was great (also Ginger Snaps? Very underrated. Check it out plz).
When I saw her earlier this Season on Hannibal as the complicated and alluring Margot Verger, I was reminded why I loved her so much as a horny teen. Her eyes carried the weight of the world with her, she was hypnotic. And she played part in a Hannibal-fused orgy, so points for that. A second thought, maybe I’m still just a horny teen (albeit in an old man body).
While perusing Complex’s 100 Best Movies Streaming on Netflix Right Now I stumbled upon this little indy Canadian gem and immediately added it to my Netflix list.
The basic plot sees Mary Mason (Isabelle), a surgical student dealing with the immense debt of medical school trying to earn brownie points with her asshole teacher Dr. Alan Grant (Big Jurassic Park fans?) while figuring out how to make some extra cash and keep herself afloat. After answering a sketchy Craigslist-like add at a strip club Mason’s well informed resumé leads her into the underground world of surgery and body modifications and a huge influx of cash. The huge influx comes thanks to a “Barbie Doll Surgery” on a creepy looking gal who has her privates sewn up to help better resemble a plastic doll. The boost in cash leads to the TeacherDoctors noticing her new wardrobe and stethoscope, and invite her to a very exclusive party which in no way leads to her to walk right into a secret sex party with the slimy perverts drugging, videotaping, and raping Ms. Mason.
Okay so that’s exactly what happens.
The next day Mary throws her coffee table over, which somehow transitions her into paying the douchey strip club owner Billy (Antonio Cupo) five grand to kidnap Dr. Grant and allow her the opportunity to fuck his shit up with her newly acquired skills in the body modification industry. Thankfully the script helpfully explains to us how Mary flips the script and changes her personality like a flip of the switch.
“I quit med school today, that shouldn’t come as a surprise to you. I’m changing specialties Dr. Grant. Have you ever heard of body modification?”
Not that I don’t doubt getting drugged and raped would radically change a human being (that’s not the discussion here, trust me) I just find it hilarious how within 24 hours of the attack she’s started a new business, hired gangster/strip club mafioso’s to assist in a kidnapping and then tortured a man with Cronenberg like precision while just a couple weeks earlier she was lovingly chatting with Nana.
Mary’s transformation is quick and jarring, as the lovely Mason becomes a heartless, body cutting slicer who kicks out pathetic posers from her loft just because he was thinking of getting tribal tattoos and maybe even a piercing! Mary don’t play that. Mary straddles the line of sanity until it’s revealed she’s been keeping Dr. Grant holed up in a SAW-like torture set up, awaiting additional procedures. This reveal is quickly followed by a security guard (?! Where was Mary hiding this dude, the Mall parking lot???) showing up out of nowhere only to be bludgeoned to death by an enraged Mary.
So now Mary is a super villain, and even the lovable bouncer who’s been protecting her mentions that everyone in the club is frightened of her just to hammer this point home.
I know this probably sounds like I hate the movie, but I in fact love it. I’m a huge fan of B Movies (Troma 4 Life) and this flick was definitely up my alley thanks to the absurdity of the plot and the allure of Isabelle. In fact I wanted Mary to succeed even when she teased Billy and the whore who was sucking him off at the wrong place and wrong time, and was desperate for her to survive the attack by jealous husband “Ken” (his wife was “Barbie” you see, and he was not happy to have his wife’s lady parts vanish).
For everything this film was building, my biggest disappointment was the fart of an ending. We see Mary trying to suture herself up after getting stabbed, and was hoping upon hope that the useless detective we’ve met twice before would find an empty house with a dead attacker and a missing Mary setting the stage for a damaged Mary causing havoc on all those that have wronged her in her life. But no, Mary is dead. Good-bye!
In closing I will say this. At an hour and forty minutes I could have spent an extra twenty in this world, which should say a lot about the atmosphere the Soska sisters built throughout the preceding carnage. Plus, Katharine Isabelle.
I know it’s been a long time since I’ve “blogged” but I’ve had a lot of excess, pent up energy over the last three months and have been very limited in my abilities to do something about it.
Why? The nonexistent person reading this inquired.
The short and dirty version is that back on March 12th, 2014 I suffered a hemorrhage in my right eye with a partial retinal detachment while dealing with one of the worst colds I’ve had in some time. Yes, the truth of it is that I coughed my eye right out of its socket. By that Friday I had realized that vision in my right eye had deteriorated the point where it was a glossed over blur, with a haze that prevented me from seeing anything beyond blurred lights. Basically it was like viewing a really shitty kaleidoscope. In December I had similar vision issues in the same eye (though not to this extent) and my optometrist prescribed me an overly expensive steroid to take, which did improve things with my eye at the time. Hoping and praying that this was something that would pass as the week became the weekend I realized things were not getting better.
After missing out on St. Patrick’s Day and seeing (har, har) no improvement I decided to contact my optometrist from December and find out what the hell was going on. The dick head Doctor didn’t recognize me from the previous visit, and when I questioned the situation from months earlier he informed me that I was diagnosed with conjunctivitis after reviewing my “chart”. I didn’t have the heart to tell him he was full of shit since I still needed him to take pictures of my eye, and became more impatient as he consulted with the head Doctor on staff when he was unable to tell me what the fuck was going on.
I was soon referred to a specialist at the Rhode Island Eye Institute, and the rest is history. The amazing Doctor helping me confirmed the retinal detachment and after a couple of sessions of intense injections, indirect laser, and multiple eyeball pictures I was scheduled for surgery on April 18th and put on my ass for the next two months while recovering.
Out of work on a leave of absence with partial disability (though scheduled to return June 9th, whoooooooo) I’ve gained an extra 15 pounds in addition to my previous fat while diving head first into the Netflix catalog since I’ve been trapped at home without the ability to escape.
As I slowly ease my way back into the real world I figured it would be a good time to get back to writing, so here we are. Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting some reviews I’ve written on movies and TV shows I’ve watched based off of recommendations and internet sleuthing. Here’s my list that I made during my initial recovery, but any other additional suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
- Chuck (TV Series)
- Dexter (Stupid Fucking TV Series)
- Frances Ha
- A Teacher
- Blue is the Warmest Color
- Tiny Furniture
- Assault on Precinct 13 (original, no Ethan Hawke)
- Short Term 12
- American Mary (My infatuation with Katherine Isabelle continues)
- Fish Tank (My infatuation with Michael Fassbender continues)
- Blue Valentine
- Man on Wire
- Bad Lieutenant
- The Host
- There Will Be Blood
Until then, it’s good to be back.