Intermission

While I continue to toil on the torment that is our next installment, treat yourself to some free b-movie greatness courtesy of Troma’s YouTube channel.

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H.O.P.E.L.E.S.S. R.I.P.

For those unfamiliar with the origins of The Tomb, it was originally an off-shoot of a bad movie appreciation group known as H.O.P.E.L.E.S.S., made up of myself and a handful of amigos from high school. There were a few part-timers that were more special guest cameos than full fledged die hards, but one of the founding fathers (it’s not that we were sexist, we just didn’t know any girls who were cinemasochists at the time!) of the group, George, dropped me a message yesterday with the sad news that one of our fellow fiends has recently succumbed to his demons. Peter, a.k.a. Pete Bunyon, a.k.a. “PETE!” (as shouted, sometimes in a fashion of anger and other times in a way to aggravate him) has hopped the turnstile and sneaked his way into the big grindhouse theater at the center of the Earth.

Another in the rising number of toe tags being issued by the nation’s spreading heroin plague, I’m not gonna ruin this post by dragging it into an argument about science, politics, and all the other divisive shit associated with the topic. I didn’t stay in touch with the guy and it’s literally been half my life since last I saw him, so I’m not going to pretend he was like a brother to me. But as George put it, in high school, he was one of us. Back before life crushed us as it does all adults (some more than others), those teen years were survivable because we had each other. Pete was a weird dude among a cadre of weird dudes. He was our Cornholio. As much as he could wear on your nerves (especially Mike’s, another brick in the foundation of the H.O.P.E.L.E.S.S.), he was a good guy in spite of the shit life would throw at him.

Thanks to Pete and Mike, I was introduced to MST3K via the taped episodes they would loan me. Pete also introduced me to The Misfits courtesy of his cassette tapes of <b>Static Age</b> and <b>Collection II</b>, which I have long since turned Evil Dead Bride Krix onto during the early years of our relationship.

In Pete’s honor (and as the only H.O.P.E.L.E.S.S. member still actively taking the piss out of bad movies in a social manner), I’ve decided to finally give our abandoned acronym an official meaning. We never sussed a proper set of words for it, and part of its charm was that it forever went undefined, but here it is:

Hardcore
Opinionated
Persons
Enjoying
Lesser
Entertained
Sinematic
Schlock

I never knew Pete’s siblings, and both his parents went to their rewards prior, so reaching out to his family with my sympathies feels disingenuous. Instead, I’ll pour out a bottle of Top Pop Blue Pop to ya… metaphorically, of course, as I haven’t been able to track down that shit in almost 20 years. Your ass and balls will always remain immortalized in the pictorial evidence of H.O.P.E.L.E.S.S. parties long passed. This one’s for you. Go where eagles dare, amigo.

Episode 105 – Land of Smiles (2017)

or “We Turn Your Frowns Upside Down”

Featuring: Alexandra “Boy Meets Girl” Turshen , Keenan “First Person” Henson , Caitlin “‘Continuum’” Cromwell

Writer & Director: Bradley “Clearly wrote his own IMDB biography” Stryker

Origin: USA

Review_____

“Let’s get plastered and make some bad decisions! Why the hell else would we be on this beautiful island?!”

The Evil Dead Bride and your humble narrator were perusing the alcohol offerings at NileMart the other day when we discovered that, not long after the re-emergence (and re-disappearance) of Crystal Pepsi, fellow transparent ’90s punchline drink Zima is now also back on the market. My long standing theory that the latter is just a fermented form of the former? Confirmed.

Pop culture footnote beverage humor aside, after finally conquering the world’s Russia problem with my last review (The Guardians), it’s time to live up to my promises, play a game of ketchup (“catsup” if you’re nasty) and get the circus train back on its tracks. Well, not the whole circus. It’s more like I’m about to abandon an overbooked clown car on a railroad crossing, let the 7:06 bullet from Tarker’s Mill do the dirty work for me, then all I’ve gotta do is report on the aftermath.

In the interest of transparency, I admit that I’m taking some liberties when it comes to Land of Smiles being a killer clown flick, especially when it comes to the whole “painted horrors” technicality, but if the oozing cold sore on America’s dick can give ethics the tiny middle finger by appointing government positions to his defective offspring and filling his cabinet with the highest bidders, I can bend the rules of the Republic of Tombistan. Though the movie’s antagonists conceal their faces under the visage of sinister jesters, they do so with rubber masks, possibly purchased from the clearance bin of a Spirit Halloween pop-up store. It’s not like the world’s lacking in movies out in the nebulous “there” that center on actual grease-painted murderous mirth makers, I just thought I could use a little change of subgenre scenery. It’s not as if I signed any kind of contract (at least not one that falls under the jurisdiction of any mortal justice system) saying I can’t, so just make like a shed uterine lining and go with the flow, Joe!

The basis for Smiles is nothing new. It’s about backpacking Americans whose vacation to a beautiful country they’ve never been to before leads to the reveal of a seamy underbelly that threatens to swallow them whole in its gaping maw of stranger danger, inducing increased paranoia in any members of its audience who already didn’t need any more reasons to never take a vacation beyond pitching tents and making s’mores in their own backyard. See Wolf Creek, Turistas, A Perfect Getaway, Eli Roth’s Hostel flicks and, of course, The Hangover Part II. I would’ve included The Ruins on that list, but that’s supernatural horror and thus does not fall under the “people from other countries are the real monsters” xenophobia gimmick.

Our vulnerable young travelers begging to never be heard from again are lifelong friends and overly confident American college students Abby (Aleandra Turshen) and Penny (Krista Donargo). Having planned a trip to Thailand together for the longest time (oh, oh, oh, for the longest time), Abby earns her BFF of 19 years’ ire when she backs out of their girls only vacation to stay near her boyfriend Brad (Brandon Nagle), who more than likely didn’t like the idea of his girlfriend being half-way across the globe and possibly getting peanut sauce licked off her ass by some beefcake with jungle herpes.

In a moment that can only be scripted (and poorly at that), Ab’s sacrifice of Pen’s friendship blows up in her face almost instantaneously when her attempt to surprise Brad with a candlelit cupcake (birthday/anniversary?) leads to her walking in on Brad in the middle of a Skinemax bump n’ hump session with Lacy (Charisse Bellante) – a random blonde who comes off just as “trashy party girl who’s upset she never got to be in a Girls Gone Wild DVD” in her sex making as her name would suggest. To any Lacys out there who take offense to that, I’m sorry, but maybe your parents shouldn’t have named you after a style of lingerie trim.

Blinded by confusion and rage, Abby unleashes a few shots of Cowboy Mike’s Extra Bold Red Hot Ricochet Pepper Spray upon the ocular orbs of the indignant fornicators, apologizing at first before revoking said formality and storming out in justified rage. If you think pepper spray’s a little intense, these two are just lucky Abby’s probably too young to remember the whole Lorena Bobbitt episode. However, as is all too common the case, the cupcake is the true victim of the break up. Poor thing’s probably going to be swallowed up by the foster system like so many little lost souls before it. If you would, say a little prayer for the cupcake’s well being tonight while you’re taking your pre-bedtime dump, won’t you?

Of course Abby couldn't have made this discovery before Penny’s departure, so now she’ll play some ketchup of her own and do the first leg of their itinerary solo. No idea why she couldn’t have just traveled ahead and met Nickel immediately, but then we wouldn’t have a movie. Why? Because Dime gets kidnapped. Not ready to cancel your plane tickets to Thailand yet? Well, the people who take her are dressed in those aforementioned clown masks. Calling the airline now to see if you can get a refund? I thought so. Besides, why travel when you can spend summer break crashed on your couch in your underthings (or, if you’re like myself, au natural) with the AC cranked to “Absolute Zero” as you eat can after can of overstuffed ravioli and play your favorite video games? I’m currently working through Saint’s Row IV right now. Did you know you can dress up your character in a MechaGodzilla costume?! It’s true taint-tingling terrificness!

Anyway, Abby isn’t aware of her sister-from-another-mister’s peril, so she simply does the tourist thing for a bit as intended. Her only communications from Quarter involve random pics without any accompanying messages to explain them, which our heroine chalks up to her still having rump rash about the whole “I’d rather spend summer break with the boyfriend that you’ve repeatedly informed me is a heaping piece of pooper pie than go to on a tropical dream vacation with my oldest, dearest friend” drama. Along her travels, she meets a pair of fellow out-of-towners in Ben (Keenan Henson) and Jewel (Caitlyn Cromwell/Stryker, the writer-director’s wife), who approach her under the most suspicious of methods when Ben steals her backpack. He returns it to her right after though, calking it up to a lesson that she should keep on her toes lest she be destitute (given that she’s already Pennyless *rimshot*) and giving bareback Around the Worlds to American businessmen by Tuesday.

A bit douchey, but in that “big brother tough love” sorta way, Abby accepts the advice as well as the offer to tag along with the couple. Their reason for being in Thailand is so Brad can traverse the whole of Southern Asia, shooting a wanna-be VICE style vid about the things backpackers experience while trekking through third world countries. I think. I don’t really know what his point is, because it all just looks like a tourism video to sell Thai travel packages to college kids back in the states. They also fraternize with a fellow outsider named Dale (writer-director Brad Stryker), an Aussie guy there for the nightlife, the pretty scenery, and to bang as many random prostitutes dressed in “sexy (career here)” Halloween costumes as his down under can afford. I’d advise him to make sure the females he’s bedding are actual females, given that it’s Thailand and all, but somehow Dale seems like the type of guy that wouldn’t really care either way once his Foster’s and Cialis cocktail kicked in.

And for anyone protesting that Foster’s isn’t what actual Australians drink, it’s okay. Stryker was born in fucking Oregon, so he’s about as not an actual Australian as a white person can get. His put-on accent (as in “put-on like Kris Kross’ pants – incorrectly”) will support me on that.

When Abby does finally get the confirmation video that Half-Dollar has been Taken-ed, the young lady’s clown cloaked absconders have two simple demands – (1) Do NOT tell anyone about the crime and (2) continue on with the plans to rock n’ roll all night and party every day. If Abs can ignore the anxiety of her best friend’s peril and embrace the drunken American party girl stereotype inside her that she came to Thailand to rediscover in the first place, then they’ll release their abductee and the girls can be reunited. That’s…weird. Have I been lied to my entire life and the point of kidnappings isn’t to demand ransoms, but rather force people to live the Miller High Life?! Because as much as I love some of the people in my life, I wouldn’t be willing to drink excessively of such bottled piss swill for the return of some of them.

Fortunately, it turns out that this isn’t so much the case. When Absinthe breaks the first rule of fight club and talks about fight club with B&J, Ben (last name “Dover”?) introduces her to the world of Southern Asia’s newest craze – staged abductions! Seems that there’s a whole subgenre of today’s Generation Meme culture dedicated to setting up false kidnappings for the sake of “reminding people how to have fun”, then posting the reaction videos online when the victim is told it was all for funsies. Just psychologically scarring, emotionally terrorizing, friendship shattering funsies. Fucking people and their fucking reaction videos. It was funny for about 5 minutes in the wake of the “2 Girls 1 Cup” epidemic, but I never wanna see another one of those stupid things again. Unless it involves the kind of reaction George Clooney had when he found Brad Pitt hiding in his closet. Now THAT’s a multi-million views moment!


(Today’s lesson: don’t come out of the closet to Worst Batman)

Additionally, what the frosted fucks does that ambiguous “reminding people how to have fun” description mean? In this case, “people” refers to adults and “have fun” refers to intoxicating ones self to the point of long term brain damage because your friends apparently only like you when you're making as asshole out of yourself in public, throwing up $60 in margaritas, and blacking out so you can put yourself at risk of being sexually assaulted by any horny festering pustule excuse for a human being that happens to be passing by. Given the length of that explanation, you can see the need for the “TL;DR” version provided.

And so we’re left with the mystery of whether this is a legitimate criminal situation by a Thai maniac clowning with their prey, or if it’s all just a really shitty scheme by Hay Penny to make Abby abandon the maturity of adulthood and “loosen up”. Which is just a dickhead way of Sixpence (who’s none the richer… *rimshot*) saying that she fundamentally intends to drag her friend down so she herself doesn’t need to be alone in her terror of growing up and assuming responsibilities that she’s not ready for. Could she have opted for a less vindictive, “Reverse Jigsaw” method? Maybe. But that would kill Stryker’s entire effort to make something he likely mistook as being “visionary”.

Not only does what could have been a decent little flick foil itself in the finish with a fumbled finale, but Stryker opted to be the seventy-thousandth indie movie director to think they’re the one who’s going to breathe unasked for life into the fetid, deflated lungs of the “found footage” movie, completely ignoring the Do Not Resuscitate notice the subgenre has hanging around its neck. And it’s not even some semi-reasonable bullshit like the Paranormal Activity security cam footage concept, it’s just yet another instance of the characters shooting their own videos of the proceedings, likely until they all die, never putting the camera down no matter how much immediate peril they’re put in. Once they’re dead, all of this “found footage” then gets spliced (I guess “merged” would be the modern digital version?) by some unknown editor who cobbles together a single project whose final cut just happens to be very movie-like, both in structure and length, and includes numerous clearly not found helicopter shots and professionally framed footage of the landscapes. Sounds like mister first-time feature couldn’t play it casual and stick with his own theme. I guess you can’t “make the environment a character” without pricey aerial establishing shots, eh?

Land of Smiles makes some attempt at explaining itself in the finish, but does about as well as a stoner trying to explain to their probation officer that their eyes are red because they “just have bad hay fever”. It even comes with a lazy, forced Shyamalanian pseudo-twist hanging off of its ass, metaphorically wrapping the whole thing up in a way that’s equivalent to actually wrapping a broken toaster with soiled newspapers, not unlike those I put around Bastet’s litter box so she won’t track her shit grit into my bed during one of her 2am “u up?” booty calls. I haven’t been this aggravated about such a fucking stupid, pointless, shoved-in-dry, “for the sake of getting one over on the audience” Chubby Checker conclusion since The Bone Collector (aka “That there Bone Crusher” to quote a private joke). It’s not even the whole ending, either! If you circumcised Styrker’s failed attempt at being cutesy with his end credits sequence, it would’ve been a perfectly fine ending to a mediocre thriller. As is, though, you may audibly boo it the same way I did. Try not to wake up your downstairs neighbor when you do so the same way I did, otherwise you too will have very awkward mailbox interactions for the next few days also…

All of that nonsense aside (if you can put the last minute alteration of the entirety of the movie’s story “aside”), Stryker’s other major effort goes into the “ugly behind the beauty” theme he seems to believe he himself created. In case the fact that you’re watching a HORROR movie titled Land of Smiles is too subtle for you, the guy includes numerous shots of beautiful locales populated by beautiful people having beautiful good times with beautiful beautiful party party yadda yadda blah blah inter-cut with moments of our protagonists freaking out (again and again and again) and vids of Penny maybe-or-maybe not being tortured. It’s juxtaposition overload! It’s the hallmark of a film school student who doesn’t respect their audience’s intelligence/awareness, so they spend too much time hitting us over the head with it to make sure we get the point. Though, as we all know, no one will ever truly get the deep introspective point of Mr. Stryker’s art because, well, he’s a creator while we the audience are simply refuse in his path to brilliance.

Except for those who leave 8+ star reviews on IMDB. Clearly they “get it”…

In case you require more evidence of my claim (like the police insisted on that time I accused my aforementioned downstairs neighbor of shitting on my doormat), observe the name of Stryker's self-production company as Exhibit D –

That’s not a ‘shop job, kids. He actually calls it “Stryke-Force Films”. A guy who wants us to take his very serious horror movie very seriously sticks a name like that onto the opening. For Francis Ford Fuckula’s sake, this is not a hoax, not a dream, not an imaginary tale. This is for real. He’s Tommy Wiseau without the charming Ed Wood-ian naivete. I can only hope that whichever family members he conned into putting up the money for this vacation-turned-movie are the “more money than brains” type, otherwise I fell sorry for them.

But, despite all of this fresh personal contempt I’ve discovered for one Bradley Stryker, Land of Smiles isn’t a terrible movie. It’s better-than-bad without quite reaching the lofty levels of “good” as established by Log (*from BLAMMO!™). It at least makes an effort to do something uncommon if not new (even going so far as name dropping The Game as the in-continuity inspiration for the fake kidnapping business), and the cast (excluding Stryker’s needlessly Australian Dale that is) does a well enough job conveying their fear to keep playing along while Ben urges the girls on. Whether his motivations are as altruistic for Penny as he claims them to be, or he just wants to finish his video project like the girls have growing suspicions of is never entirely clear, which works in the flick’s favor. Oh, and if you close your eyes, there are times you’d swear Keenan Henson’s lines were being delivered by a manic Vince Vaughn. It’s neither a pro nor a con, really, unless you’re Isla Fisher’s character from Wedding Crashers, in which case it’ll probably create a babbling brook down your thigh.

I have a titanium firm “no toilet sex” rule, but ever since that movie she gets an exclusive pass. Well, her and Barbara “Megan Halsey” Crampton, but she’s of an unlimited classification all her own. Don’t ask me the acts I would do for that woman, lest ye have a cast iron constitution or have long lost your soul to the dark horrors of the internet.

Oh, back on topic, as much as I hate The Blair Witch Project for its piss poor “let’s just say ‘fuck’ a lot because we can’t ad lib to save our thrice damned lives” improvised dialogue, it was at least more realistic than a lot of the supposedly “real footage” exchanges in Land of Smiles. Blame the actors for not being able to make it believable or blame Stryker for a clunky script, but either way it doesn’t help sell the lie that we’re meant to get lost in. In spite of my gripes about this, the crap ending, and a shooting style too schizo to settle on whether it’s trying to be a traditional movie or a vacation video, the movie is still oddly watchable! Weird, right?! I know! I’m as shocked to type it as you are to read it! So, yeah, there are way worse ways to wear out your eyeballs for an hour or two and if that’s enough of an endorsement for you to seek LoS out, have at it, friends.

Whether Brad (the director, not the cheating boyfriend…though Stryker could very well be the type who needs a woman to tell him he has a big dick to perform) can parlay his first feature into a career win in the long run or not, only time will tell. Whether the sparks of potential are enough to feed a flame of success, at least he can fall back on his extensive work as a bit part player in TV shows and direct-to-DVD movies. It may not make him a household name, but at least it pays the bills!… I presume.

My role as the grand marshal of this parade of fools continues next time (and four or so times again after that) with a movie that’s, well, less a movie than a digital version of a lost Hippolytus de Marsiliis torture method. While you look that name up, I’m gonna casually slip away via the escape hatch I had installed under my desk… CIAO!

Moral of the Story: A walk down “thunder road” with Dale is no kind of picnic… so, maybe don’t try to have a picnic there… or at least don’t invite Dale… who’s a monkey wrench sized tool anyway and would more than likely ruin the potato salad by putting his dick in it as a “joke”.

Screenshots_____

“I never understood how these stupid horoscopes work. What does my having been born in the first week of November have to do with not being compatible with someone born in mid-June?! I call bullshit… So, what does mine say?


I understand that this guy’s probably doing the clown thing to work out some deeply depressing personal issues, but you may not want to do the “limp flower as a metaphor for my erectile dysfunction” bit around the ladies.


“Shit! That’s the fourth iPhone I’ve lost to the porcelain Sarlak pit this year! There goes the rest of my savings.”


Sarah and Elaine’s attempt to resurrect the “Girls Gone Wild” series with all of the drinking and partying minus the nudity and “lesbian stuff” proved grossly unsuccessful.


“Why do you need such a big backpack?”
“So I can sleep inside it at night while hanging it from a tree to avoid bears!”


“I keep telling ya, love, even if there were sharks this far inland, they wouldn’t come after ya! Just because you’re on your period doesn’t mean you’re ‘bikini chum’!”


“I don’t get it. I ask you what a ‘lemon party’ is and now you’re recording me watching a video? You’re so weird.”


“I hope you’re at least not being cheap and paid extra for a reach around, Greg.”


“Welcome to ‘Clowning Around’ with your host, Zippo VonLaughsalot. This week’s contestant is Janet, and she’ll be playing ‘What’s Crawling On My Leg?’ for her chance at a $25 Best Buy gift card!”


“I know it’s tradition to swallow the worm when drinking a bottle of Mezcal, but that thing last night… it had a face… a human face! I swear it looked at me and mouthed my name before… before… oh god, what have I done?!”


Oh jeez. I hooked up with her at last call a month ago and the bitch gave me crabs. Let’s just go before she… DON’T MAKE EYE CONTACT WITH HER! GAH! RUN!


It’s sad to know I will never be as happy as she is right now. Let’s not ruin it and tell her that every stray cat in the neighborhood makes that place their litter box.


Uh-oh! Looks like some tourists discovered their hotel’s hidden toilet cameras!


I’m not the most culturally educated man-jackal, but I can’t imagine it’s very sanitary of Thailand letting elephants just leave piles of number two in their human restrooms.


Laugh all you like, but lonely weirdos pay $200 a night just to watch her sleep on a webcam site!


“You know what I hate? Stupid assholes in goofy rubber clown masks that sneak up on people to try and scare them… Damn it, there’s one right behind me, isn’t there?”


“Wow! These Gushers fruit snacks really are bursting with fruit flavor!”


This is why I stopped going to the local beer garden during carnival season.


And this is why I started going to the local strip club during carnival season!

———————————————————
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Anubis will return in
“The Inbred Clown Posse”

Enjoy the review? Hate the review? Have a movie you’d like to see judged in The Tomb? Fill out the feedback form! Never has it been easier to make contact with a deitic being!

All materials found within this review are the intellectual properties and opinions of the original writer. The Tomb of Anubis claims no responsibility for the views expressed in this review, but we do lay a copyright claim on it beeyotch, so don’t steal from this shit or we’ll have to go all Farmer Vincent on your silly asses. © October 1st 2013 and beyond, not to be reproduced in any way without the express written consent of the reviewer and The Tomb of Anubis, or pain of a physical and legal nature will follow. Touch not lest ye be touched.

Episode 104 – The Guardians (2017)

or “In Soviet Russia, Copyright Laws Infringe You!”

Featuring: Anton “Minnesota” Pampushnyy , Sanjar “Tale of a Pink Hare” Madi , Alina “‘Kukhnya’” Lanina

Director: Sarik “American Heist” Andreasyan

Writer: Andrey Gavrilov

Origin: Russia

Review_____

“(Something in Russian that I didn’t understand because of the actual worst subtitles I’ve ever seen.)

I can’t be the only person who talks to their toilet like it’s their BDSM slave when I take a piss, right? I mean, everybody must do that once in a while, right? Yeah. It’s fine. Perfectly normal. Speaking of piss, today’s movie comes to us from the barren wastes of the “former” Soviet Union! Yes, the home of our 45th puppet president’s string pulling maestro, Rootin’ Tootin’ Vlad Putin, and his harem of hookers whose off-time is spent as gold gushing fountain statues in his pee pee palace. Having now gotten that out of my system (and taken the mandatory double shake to excise any errant droplets), I promise to give the urinal cake a break and cease and desist with the bladder chatter. Now, take my talons (I promise I washed ’em first) as we trek into a world of blatant flimflam personas the likes of which haven’t been seen since the halcyon days of the Turkish superhero craze!

Before we leave the shallows, braving our way through the looking glass and into the deep end of this plagiarism pool, heed these words – I’m kicking my anti-spoiler rule dickside for this episode. Even if the proverbial shit weren’t making a beeline toward the nearest ceiling fan in today’s political climate, I’m of moderate confidence that The Guardians won’t be seeing a commercial release in the states anytime soon. Especially if Marvel and their iron fist overlords in the House of Mouse catch a whiff of its fetid wind wafting anywhere near these shores! As such, the gloves are not only off, but have been put away with the winter attire for the immediate future as I prepare to prematurely spoil this Moscow moo juice under the burning hot lamp of scrutiny!

I don’t know why I sound like Darkwing Duck with all the yammering today, but let’s just roll with the excellence of elocution and see where the current takes us.

Oh, and the only subtitles I could find for this second-hand superhero showing seem to have been directly translated through Babel Fish, so if I misspell any names or it seems like I just cobbled together some plot points that have nothing to do with the actual story, just know that I did my best. For you. As I always do. For you. Know that I would die if I had to. For you.

Remember how the paragon of patriotism, Captain America, was born of a secret US government project to create Nazi punching super soldiers for World War II? Well, it turns out that the USSR were also big fans of secret super soldier experiments (look up Stalin’s efforts to create a race of ape men, for one), including a Cold War program called “Patriot” that resulted in successfully super-sizing a quartet of otherwise average test subjects into meta-human misfits! Under the supervision of the big brained Professor Victor Golbonov (dunno the actor, because fuck you IMDB, Wikipedia, and the entire stupid Russian language) said Soviet supers were Ler (Sebestien Sisak), Khan (Sanzhar Madiyev), Ursus (Anton Pampushnyy), and Xenia (Alina Lanina). Dr. VicHead’s professional rival, Professor August Kuratov (Stanislav Shirin), helped himself to the Patriot research in a bid to make a suped-up guinea pig power posse of his own, having failed at a Kremlin sponsored project previously assigned to him. Office politics as usual. It starts with stealing Debbie’s egg salad sandwich out of the office fridge and always ends with treasonous acts punishable by death.

Kuratov’s hidden trials in genetic tinkering only resulted in numerous human atrocities though, as his test subjects all died horribly. When the higher-ups discovered said mad sciencing, their intervention resulted in the villain pulling the old “self-destruct” play, Michael Baying all evidence of his work into oblivion. But, despite his supposed super genius level brain, Dr. K’s time management skills were clearly shit tier, as he didn’t leave himself enough time to also escape the blast! Bruce Banner-ing himself all to fuck worked out well for the psychotic physicist though (as it always does in these comic book type situations) since he not only survived the explosion, but was also transformed into a muscle-bound goliath that would make even the ‘roidiest roster members of the World Bodybuilding Federation look like pre-Captain America Steve Rogers in comparison!


For heartburn that makes your chest feel like Hiroshima, use new Nuclear Strength TUMS!

Empowering himself with abilities beyond those of mortal men, Dr. K disappeared faster than a Quaker at a key party, leaving the Commies to believe he’d perished in the lab-splosion. In the 30(ish) years since, as if his new freakish (and foam-rubberish) physique weren’t enough, Kuratov has also since succeeded in accomplishing his previous failed attempt to invent a high-tech harness (part of his original “Module-1” project) that now allows him to control any machinery within his area of influence, turning him into the living, breathing, bulging embodiment of Maximum Overdrive! Because of this (and because I refuse to type out “Kuratov” another two dozen fucking times), I’m sticking him with the moniker of Dr. MO. Doc decides to reintroduce himself to the ruling body of modern day Russia by using his newfound exoskeleton rig to take control of some fancy pants military drones that are basically robot spiders/crabs that shoot missiles and have massive Gatlings mounted on top. Even though the military intelligentsia was only using the arachno-tanks to blow up used cars left over from Crazy Ivan’s Stalin’s Day mega-sale, you have to imagine big bad Vlad will still be putin the baddest of bad moods when he finds out about this! *rimshot*


♫ He’s just a war machine. And the tanks won’t work for nobody but him. ♫

Does any of this sound familiar to you? Say, in the way the hook for “Ice Ice Baby” sounds an awful lot like the baseline from “Under Pressure”? Well, let's break it down. Like a vandal. Word to your mother. Licky boom boom. Anyway, for starters we're given a group of four test subjects imbued with fantastic super powers and a doctor seemingly doomed in a self-induced science ‘splosion motivated by his jealousy of a fellow practitioner of man-made magics. Connecting the dots yet, Pee Wee? La la la la? Connect the dots? La la la la? I can almost guarantee you that this movie was originally called The Fantastik Fourski until Fant4stic was such a global failure that the producers (likely the Russian mob) insisted the title be changed to The Guardians to pull an Asylum and try to cash-in on a similarly titled Hollywood franchise. I’m referring to Guardians of the Galaxy of course, just in case someone out there thought I was alluding to that Rise of the the Guardians where Santa Claus teams up with Jack Frost and the Easter Bunny to remind us of the magic of friendship while also fighting The Jersey Devil or some such bullshit.

Now, about those super powers. Ler has mastery over rocks. As such, I’m going to refer to him by the Western friendly name of Rocky, because rocks. His power doesn’t extend to stone constructs like walls or sidewalks though, just loose chunks of masonry and stone. He can throw these bits of debris at people with his Airbender-ish ability, or he can create an armored shell with them to protect himself (except for his head, so he could easily be taken out by any halfway-decent Call of Duty player), create minor seismic shock waves in his immediate vicinity, or just punch people hard. His appearance will likely not hold up in court as “an unintentional coincidence” that he happens to look a lot like a de-powered (and re-bearded) Ben Grimm wearing that weird craggy exo-suit Reed created for him that one time.


(Still better than Fant4stic.)

Khan can move at super speed, so I’m just gonna take the laziest tack and call him “Speedy”. When he sprints about, it creates a puff of black smoke that’s one *BAMF* short of his own legal battle. One with a certain fuzzy blue elf on the X-Men payroll. To further sink himself into the Tar Pit of Creative Absentia, Speedy also makes it a point to dress very similar to The Winter Soldier, and I won’t accept the “well, they are both Cold War super agents for Russia…” defense, because you know that’s a lie and I refuse to be an enabler in your denial! In addition to his speed and pilfered fashion sense, Speedy’s final resource is a pair of massive crescent shaped blades that can cut full-size pickup trucks in half, but not people because fuck it, you fill in the Mad Libs on this one!


Get the new Ninja Night Strike Khan figure with grappling hook action (and easily broken sword accessories) at your local K-Mart today!

Ursus is a scientist who transforms into a bestial monster and struggles to retain every semblance of his humanity so as not to give in to his primal side completely. Cue Wolverine and The Hulk doing Craig Ferguson’s cheeky “Remind you of anyone?” gag. Rather than transforming into an atomic ogre though, Urs instead turns into ManBearPig, hold the bacon. His new Westernized name will be Barry, cuz it sounds like “beary”… cuz he’s not entirely a bear, he’s just beary… Anyway, if you’re expecting Barry to have a scene where he tells a concerned woman about how terrified he is of losing control and hurting the ones he loves (or at least is required to team up with for the extent of the movie), well, you’re right. But at least by not seeing said scene in a theater you’ll be able to fast forward through it!


Post Cereals may have gone a bit far with their “edgy” reboot of Golden Crisp mascot, Sugar Bear.

The final piece of our trademark violating Matryoshka doll comes in the shapely shape of Xenia. On top (Onatopp?) of being a solitary vowel removed from a certain warrior princess, Xen shamelessly swipes her super-powered prowess from none other than Fantastic Four founder Susan Storm. Able to turn herself (and her clothes too, I guess) invisible, Xenia’s Xeroxing doesn’t stop there, as she’s also an Aryan wet dream like Miss Storm, what with her blonde hair and blue eyes. The only real difference is that Xenia clearly has extensive martial arts training, which will come in handy given that her power only activates when she’s covered in water… So, she’s the ultimate agent of espionage if Putin ever needs someone to spy on Sea World, but beyond that her power’s about as useful as Invisible Boy’s from Mystery Men. I was going to take the easy way out and call her “Sue”, but since she can turn transparent I decided to dig deeper and name her “Maura” after Jeffrey Tambor’s titular role in Amazon’s show ‘Transparent’.

…PUNS!

After the cancellation of Patriot (you know, budget cuts to black ops) and the “death” of Dr. MO, the Phenomenal Phour just kinda went their separate ways and spent the next however many years each doing their own thing, neither aging so much as a day thanks to a Highlander/Wolverine side effect of their literal empowerment. Rocky lives alone in an abandoned monastery, having lost all of his loved ones to the fickle finger of the Grim One via old age. Speedy became a vigilante assassin fighting a Kazakhstan crime syndicate… I mean, I guess that’s what his dispatching of a posse of suit wearing attackers driving pick-up trucks mounted with heavy machine guns is alluding to, given that it’s never explained. Were I to RiffTrax this bitch, I’d dust off the out-of-date Borat voice and proclaim “My liiiife!” each time one of these Yakuzakhstanians were cut down.

Barry Banner-Howlett has been researching his condition to see if he can’t whip up a way to exorcise his onikuma, or at least rein it in and teach it how to drive one of those little Shriners cars. I love the ballet. To do so unhindered by the outside world, he’s been Kaczynski-ing (and not the guy from ‘The Office’, that’s Krasinski) himself in an isolated cabin in the woods. Whether said domicile is built atop a secret subterranean base whose occupants are tasked with making human sacrifices to protect the planet from the wrath of the Elder Gods is unconfirmed, but as such, not entirely ruled out! Also, as the always ambiguous “she” said, that last bit was a mouthful! As for Maura, she’s ironically embraced her freakish weirdo ability to turn invisible by making a public spectacle of herself, comfortably settling into the quasi-celebrity life as the headliner for a diving show. What’s a diving show? Well, she dives from a tall platform into a pool of water, turns translucent like a ’90s novelty action figure activated by warm water, then emerges to be covered by a rain of golden confetti as she turns visible again. Yep. That’s it. I really hope there were some openers leading up to this, like Elmer Fudd diving into a glass of water or a PETA enraging diving horse act a la Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken, otherwise I question the merit of constructing (or at least refurbishing) an entire theater venue just for her 3 minute see-through exhibition!

Following Dr. MO’s opening spider-drone jacking gambit, the military’s muckety mucks decide the only way to stop the villain is to get the proverbial band back together. Right, because somehow perfectly functional ballistics not controlled by an operating system (guns, mortars, etc.) are entirely out of the question. Anyway, put in charge of gathering the wayward science experiments is Major Elena Larina (Valeriya Sharknado Shkirando), who’s the movie’s Nick Fury by way of a young Brigitte Nielsen (post-Sylvester Stallone but pre-Flava Flav). On the plus side, no one can say something trite about how Major Larina “broke through the glass ceiling”, because women have been putting their army boots into asses of all genders in the Russian military since forever, as they always should have. Stupid sexist US military and their history of insecure leaders engaging in misogynist practices because they’re afraid “frail girls” will show them up making our country look bad!


Her OKCupid profile pic is much hotter than any of those posted by higher-ups from the US military.

Though the government hadn’t been tracking the foursome in any way since the disbanding of Patriot (not even Total Recall nasal beacons? Bullshit!), thanks to some light interneting MAJOR Larina and her team are able to suss them all out with little effort and in even less time, with the public figure of the quartet being the last confronted. While the boys are easily convinced to join the fray, Maura chooses to trade blows with Speedy first, destroying a perfectly good glass coffee table before saying yes! Now what is she supposed to pay male prostitutes to defecate on while she rubs herself to climax at night?!

Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to dedicate that last vulgar joke as my contribution to the ongoing fight for gender equality. Thank you.

As per the name of the movie, the team is dubbed “The Guardians”. Given the title of the state-sponsored project that created them, you’d think they’d go with “The Patriots”, but I guess even Mother Russia isn’t willing to risk legal fisticuffs with the NFL’s brigade of elite attorneys! Whatever the case, a rose by any other name would still royally fuck their first mission sideways, as the heroes are sent to take down Dr. MO’s “hidden amid the ruins of an old warehouse” headquarters, only to be soundly trounced by the bad man’s army of robo-clone soldiers. Jobbers they may be, you have to hand it to them, because unlike another certain army of genetic doppelgangers, at least these guys managed to do their devilish duties without embarrassing themselves!

Speaking of embarrassments, Speedy falls to a simple tranquilizer dart, Barry might as well be half-dolphin since he’s dispatched with ease by a fucking net, and Maura’s visual camouflage, despite the mission taking place during a convenient light rain, proves to be completely useless since all of the cybernetically inclined soldiers have friggin’ thermal vision! You know what? Forget about that Invisible Boy comparison I made earlier, because at least Invisible Boy couldn’t be detected by electronic devices, thus making Maura LESS useful!


(Kel Mitchell is excited to get his first compliment since Good Burger.)

Rocky is the only one not felled by underlings, though he does go fist-to-granite with Dr. MO in a short-lived exchange. Despite his rubble armor and rock tossing abilities, the bearded bruiser is battered, beaten, and bettered by the bald bad boy, who breaks the brave brick house's back Bane style. **GASP** Thank you, thesaurus.com!

Also as seen in The Dark Knight Rises, Rocky’s severed spinal column is no match for superhero determination, and he sleeps off the injury back at home base. The other three are held captive by MO, who tries to convince them to join him in his as-yet-undefined plan to rule and/or destroy the world. Just like every such “we’re not so different, you and I” meeting of protagonists and antagonist, this one ends with the deacon of doom walking away rejected, much like myself every time I asked McDonald’s to combine my order of 2 Jalapeno Doubles into one big one to save on empty bun calories. Rather than burning down his rejectors’ place of business though, MO just leaves them locked up at his place while he goes off to conquer Moscow… and hopefully burn down every fucking McDonald’s in the city!

With an army of tanks and choppers stolen from a military facility on the way to the capital, Dr. MO rolls over The First Throne with mild-to-non-existent resistance outside of some abandoned automotive fodder (for the tanks to look cool and take selfies while rolling over) and b-roll footage of people rioting… of which I’m not entirely sure is supposed to be indicative of proletariat rebels fighting the caravan of self-propelled death dealers or the clone soldiers attacking what minute military machines are trying to stymie them, given that the humanoids in question are wearing ski masks similar to those worn by the bad guys. Either or, it looks like modern day Russia drops their pants and grabs their ankles faster than even 1940s France did at their lubiest!


I see there’s a version of The “How Did They Manage to Get That Footage?!” News Channel in Russia too.

It’s explained later that Major Lena’s commanding officer, General Dolgov (Vyacheslav Razbegaev, who looks like a sperm bank half-and-half of Rick Hoffman and George Eads), ordered the city evacuated and told the army not to bother coming to work as part of the tried and true Kent Brockman Stratagem. His reward? A broken neck. A not-so-subtle warning to the audience straight from the State Department of Loyalty and Obedience, I’m sure.

With the city conquered, Dr. MO orders his mechanical minions to push over Ostaniko Tower and drive it across town so he can erect it on top of Federation Tower (which looks kinda like Stark/Avengers Tower) and finally prove to himself (and everybody else) that his ex-wife was wrong and he DOESN’T have a minuscule member! This ostentatious obelisk of overcompensation is more than that, though, as its true intention is to act as the antennae for Module-2: Electric Boogalooski. With his massive steel pecker tricked out with technical ExtenZe, Dr. MO’s master plan will be to tap into the wealth of abandoned satellites orbiting the planet. Getting The Spice Channel unscrambled (the dream of every ’90s teen) wouldn’t hurt either! Sonja Fury’s team thinks the mechanical man’s target is one of those decommissioned Star Wars whirligigs that Old Man Reagan was always mumbling on about between his wife/mother wiping the drool off his chin, so he can nuke anybody he wants from space. The real reason is of a much larger scale though – Dr. MO will use all of the satellites to beam his technopathy to every device on the planet!


Does anyone know how to say “overcompensating” in Russian?

Now, as frostbitingly cool as that may sound, in practice it’s impractical. Just like the logistical nightmare that comes with the concept of any omniscient deity figure, that level of sensory feedback would make MO’s head explode faster than the guy from the Scanners GIF. As such, I would’ve been very happy to see said scenario play out, if for no other reason than to give us one of those classic “villain defeated by his own hubris” finales! Don’t inflate your hopes though, lads and ladies, because I’ll tell you right now that that’s not what we get. The lesson? Never anticipate what’s in the box, because you’ll only be disappointed when the Belladonna Magic Hand/Pocket Pussy you wanted turns out to be a subpoena from the divorce lawyer your spouse left you for.

Back to our so-called saviors, Professor Golbonov comes out of his own decades of hiding to help the government with Rocky’s recovery, shooting him up with MacGuffin brand Mystery Fix-All Science Juice. Well, at least it’s more believable than Bruce Wayne’s deus ex recovery was. And it looks to be blue-raspberry flavored Fix-All too! Yum! With Golbond’s assistance, Major Larina and her personal special forces group uncover the locale of the imprisoned heroes and recover them with zero resistance since Dr. MO has prioritized all of his resources to overthrowing Moscow and, well, there’s only so much time left to this shit show and there’s still a lot of shit left to fit! Taking their Guardians back to base, Major ‘Rina allows the professor to stay behind and study MO’s cloning machines with the intention of finding out how to shut his army down. A good idea, except there’s no security left behind in case Golbond gets into trouble, which he’s destined to do when a certain nemesis returns to the lab and murders him. There’s a good chance that the actor playing Golby was too frail to do any type of stunt work either, because rather than ring his collar as he did the general, Dr. MO opts for bug bombing the room and gasses the geezer to death. Or maybe it’s just so he could return in a proposed sequel where the gas has mutated him and he menaces his former team of test subjects as SHIN GOLBONOV!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Major plays therapist to her team and listens to Rocky gripe about watching his grandchildren die of old age, Barry groan on about the ever present fear he’ll lose his humanity, and Speedy mourn the dead brother that taught him how to be a swordsman and for whom he regrets never getting the chance to best in battle. You know, samurai honor and shit. I thought Russians would’ve just said, “Grow the fuck up and fight the enemy because feelings are for baby children!”, but I guess I need to download an update for my stereotypes app because Larina listens like the big sister that Horus always needed me to be.


“What’s some Dr. Freud gonna do for me at $100 an hour that Dr. McGillicudy can’t do for me at $20 a bottle?”

In addition to registering their emotional issues at the baggage check, each 25% of the quartet is given some tech-based upgrades to their arsenal in the hopes that they don’t get their comic book asses handed to them in less time than it takes to heat up one of my Kid’s Cuisine Cretaceous Period Accurate Dinosaur Shaped Chicken Nuggets Microwaveable Meals! Maura gets a skintight suit that not only lifts and shapes her pushin’ cushion, but finally makes her useful by allowing her to turn invisible at will without the need for a sacrifice to Tlaloc or a lukewarm bucket of Wonder Twin, refreshing as a nice glass of Zan may be. Speedy’s new threads allow him to move even faster and (maybe) fly short distances while also providing him enough protection to cocktail block any more of those tasty tranq darts. Rocky gets a personal magnetic field generator that gives him the ability to string together some rocks for use as a whip that looks unsurprisingly like it was snatched from Whiplash’s locker during filming for Iron Man 2. Last, Barry is bestowed a big techno backpack that transforms into a Gatling gun or can be worn on his back as an auto-targeting sentry when he engages his new Final Evolution (he just turns into a full-on bear… not the gay kind, so don’t get excited), officially making him a Pokemon now! Just wait until Maura sneaks into an enemy barracks, shouts “Go, Ursaring!”, throws down that familiar red and white sphere and unleashes Barry to turn the place into a bacchanal of blood and guts! If only.

Freshly outfitted for their final throw down with the monster-faced megalomaniac, the gang gets notice that they’ve only got so much time to see their mission through and dismantle MO’s makeshift Tower of Techno Babel (see what I did there?) before the military goes for the legitimate nuclear option and a-bomb Moscow so completely that its uninhabitability will give Chernobyl a Napoleon complex! Funny enough, nobody bothers to address the MASSIVE sinkhole in the street of this plan – THE BAD GUY CAN CONTROL ANYTHING WITH AN OPERATING SYSTEM! You know what’s included on that list? GUIDED MISSILES! They’d be better off dropping a few leftover Nagasaki Knocker-Overers from some hot air balloons! But, then we wouldn’t get the manufactured tension of watching Dr. MO do exactly what we all knew was going to happen not 15 minutes later. I’m getting suspicious that “Sarik Andreasyan” is just a Russian anagram for “Michael Bay”…


Damn it, Anagram Solver, you’re not even trying anymore.

The big Act 3 siege is pretty paint-by-numbers, seeing the flaccid foursome establish a frontal assault on Moscow, thinning the ranks of cyber-clone bad guys. The fact that our heroes were outsmarted by these Ruble Store lackeys in the first place is all the more pathetic when you realize that said hench-borgs’ targeting mechanisms are absolute shite, as they cant lay a single slug into an 8ft tall humanoid bear monster, an old guy with an electric rope, or a woman whose sole defense during one scene is slowly scooting away from them backwards on her ass while out in the open! In relation to that, it looks like they also lost their Predator vision, as Maura’s now able to evade their gaze. And don’t tell me her suit masks her heat signature, because her head and arms are still fully exposed! Given all this, my earlier allusion to them as superior to Imperial stormtroopers from a galaxy far far away seems less legit now. If the Russian military consisted of furry bug-eyed midgets armed with slingshots and pointed sticks, these hybrid toasters with glaucoma wouldn’t have made it past the Moscow city limits!

Once they’ve made their way through Dr. MO’s relatively diminutive ranks of mediocre mecha-marauders, for no other reason than goofy forced dramatics’ sake, the Guardians are then forced to do a tightrope act 30 stories up across a suspiciously random pipe connected to MO’s ultimate ham radio receiver. Of course they’re fired upon by more enemies, but the baddies’ continued inability to line up a single shot (maybe they have too many eyes) once more proves they’re destined for the minion unemployment line once this is over, since not a solitary bullet connects with its target. Thanks to Speedy’s speediness and prowess with preemptively ending peoples’ lives, the evil-doers are dispatched and the protagoni can carry on to the Tower of Final Showdown.

Inside the villain’s DIY high-rise, the next order of business is shorting out MO’s defensive bubble so the army’s missile attack (WHICH WILL NOT WORK!) can hit their mark. With no better ideas on how to do so, Maura throws herself at the shield’s power source, grabbing it with her bare hands and disrupting the conduit. Her effort to sacrifice herself for the greater good (and get out of paying her long standing student loans from her ill-advised 3 year quest for an associates degree in Liberal Arts) is foiled though, when Barry wrestles her away from the Wreckx-N-Effect levels of rump shaking feedback, saving her life. One of the Visually-Obscured Female’s undiscovered abilities must be a thick layer of rubber serving as her epidermis too, because despite double-fisting a pair of Tesla Coils for a good 8 seconds (get out of here, Luke Perry!), she doesn’t have so much as a singed eyebrow, let alone hands that you could mistake for The Colonel’s extra-extra-crispy Original Recipe. Speaking of, Colonel (whoever is playing you this week), I’m still waiting to see that Family Sized Bucket-O-Skin value meal we talked about (which you refused to call “The Gein”) make an appearance on the menu of my local KFC. If you don’t want to find out what your children taste like drenched in your own Georgia Gold BBQ sauce, make it happen.

With the path for the nukes now cleared (EVEN THOUGH THERE’S NO CHANCE OF THEM WORKING!), we can get to the big movie ending brawl where, despite outnumbering their foe 4-to-1, the Guardians still get their asses atomically spanked by Russian Abobo. It goes about as well as the turtles v. Shredder finale from the TMNT reboot (of which I’m sure this scene was flagrantly “influenced”), ending with our champions forced to retreat with their tails between their legs, defeated for the second time! The aforementioned inefficacious ballistics are launched in and are as effective as an old man’s member in the “Before” part of a Viagra commercial. Dr. MO sends them careening into the atmosphere, where they prematurely expend their payloads without giving the bad man so much as a cramp in his pinkie finger, EXACTLY AS EVERYONE BUT THE FUCKING MILITARY LEADERS KNEW THEY WOULDN’T!

Looks like the world’s doomed now, right? Not so fast, because even Russia wouldn’t end a super hero movie on a sad note! They’re not Zach Snyder, after all! Rather than allowing the Binary Whisperer to turn the planet into his personal Technogarchy, the Guardians have one last deus ex machina to pull out of their collective ass: a titanous sphere of pure demolishing satisfaction created by their sheer force of will (or by combining their biological energy a la the Spirit Bomb in the Dragonball Z universe, perhaps?) as projected through Rocky directly at MO’s sexually allegorical spire, imploding the structure and sending their enemy falling to the Earth with a Wile E. Coyote look on his face in a moment that’s only missing the “YAAAAAHOO-HOO-HOOEY!” sound byte and resultant dust cloud upon MO’s impact.

Even with the mastermind man-monster’s body never found, everybody chalks this outing up as a win. Though the Guardians will be going their separate ways, the celluloid piracy of The Avengers continues as they all agree to reunite, should MAJOR Larina and the Russian military need them to interject on the nation’s behalf again in the future. The only thing missing is someone declaring “Guardians Gather!” as they each strike their freeze frame win pose. And if this ending weren’t already rancid with sequel bait that no one’s biting on, Faux Fury adds to the pile when she drops the news that a fifth member of the Patriot program has been discovered. No doubt it’s the (yet another) blond woman we see take down a pair of her elite special ops handlers Black Widow style during the end credits bonus scene. I’ve got 100 rubles that says that’s a follow-up flick that won’t see tetromino one fall from the multi-chromatic minarets of Saint Basil’s. Shit-ass Russian rap track ending theme music, play us out.

…or not, because I couldn’t find said track on YouTube. As a consolation, here’s the opening theme, as sung by Adele’s non-union Russian equivalent!

When I was 20 or so, I wrote a fanfic that combined the Phantasm, Evil Dead, Re-Animator, Friday the 13th, Tremors, Crow, and a binge of other franchises into one reality. I called it “Copyright Infringement” and it never made it past the college rule pages of my Biology 101 notebook. The Guardians isn’t nearly as prosecute-able, but then my story was never seen by anyone else, let alone made into a big budget (for Russia) wide release (for Russia) “intended to be the black market knock-off track suit parallel of a massive pop culture phenomenon” franchise. Remember that ‘Seinfeld’ episode where Elaine tried to replace an $8000 Russian sable hat with a shoddy nutria (i.e. South American river rat) simulacrum? Guess which chapeau The Guardians is in this analogy. If you said the sable hat, you’re wrong, unless you’re presuming that the movie’s budget was also $8000, which is entirely understandable given the eye bruising CGI effects. Barry’s character model looks like something pulled from an old A-PIX Entertainment production laptop the producer’s cousin bought in a storage unit auction. For those who are curious, The Guardians is actually reported to have had a budget equal to around 5 million US dollars, which is about what I’m guessing SyFy gave to the The Asylum to make the first 3 Sharknados.

Much like Batman V. Superman, everyone who wanted to see it did so on opening weekend, making it the Czar of the Russian box office. Also like BVS, once the general public learned of how unimpressive it was, ticket sales immediately dropped off and it was quickly dethroned by, I don’t know, let’s say a blatant off-market clone of James Bond called Double Zero Nine: Sky is Falling. And with that, there really isn’t much else for me to comment on beyond what’s already been said. In the NINE pages this recap-bitch slap has taken to relay, I pretty much covered what needed covering. Much like my groinal batch at the beach. That, and I don’t feel like putting any more effort into this review. The time is gone. The review is over. Thought I’d something more to say…

Wait! I do! Did you know that the Hamburglar’s name is “Hamilton B. Urglar”?! Fucking weird, right? Okay, now I’m out of shit to say. Later, gator inflaters!

Moral of the Story: When stealing tropes, be careful not to take enough to hang yourself.

Screenshots_____


How the ‘Gomer Pyle: USMC’ series finale was originally meant to end. Shazam indeed.


How Vlad Putin sees himself when he’s posing for all those shirtless photo ops.


“I was the World Series of Juggling Grand Champion for 5 years running until they discovered I was using my special powers and stripped me of my accolades. The higher the heights of your hubris, the harder the fall, I suppose.”


How are those swords even supposed to be remotely effective?! It seems Khan would have to struggle just not to stab himself in the face with those things!


Due to the language barrier, there were some misunderstandings when donald trump originally requested “beautiful women and golden showers” during his earliest visits to Russia.


Remember that period in the ’90s where everybody and their grandparents were getting those goofy tribal tattoos? Nothing says “short sighted cultural appropriation” like white people and permanent ink!


“And… I have no idea what I’m supposed to be looking at. How does Tony Stark manage to do this in every Marvel movie!?”


Auger? Mighty mechanic of the heroic Earth Corps? Why didn’t anyone tell me that Russia have their own live-action Inhumanoids movie!?


Following the devastation of their population by a certain sand hating Jedi, a contingent of Tusken Raiders relocated from Tatooine to Russia, where they thrived under the country’s harsh conditions.


“The casting director said they were looking for a character that was a lazy combination of Charles Xavier, Trevor Bruttenholm, and Ernie the Keebler Elf, so here I am!”


“Look, Greg, I know it was a mistake and you didn’t mean to eat Shaun’s leftover Chicken McNuggets, but you have to be my big strong boy and take responsibility by telling him. Do it for me? Please?”


You’re telling me that a military capable of creating giant spider drone tanks is still using CRT monitors?! Is this secretly a ‘Twilight Zone’ episode?!


This is what happens when you leave the designing of your superhero team’s elite tactical combat uniforms to a crew of adult nerds that still suffer from wet dreams.


The sad picture of any man in a midlife crisis who watched the Indiana Jones trilogy (yes, I said trilogy) one weekend and thought putting on a fedora and mastering the bullwhip would be a one-way ticket to College Girls’ Panties-opolis.


Smokey says, “Only YOU can prevent forest fires… and if you don’t, now I can prevent you from starting them. Permanently!”


Maybe she worked her way up the military ladder through hard work and determination. ♫ Maybe it’s Maybelline! ♫


Gah! After years of portents, Stephen Colbert was right – Bears ARE the number one threat to mankind! And they’re armed to the teeth like fucking Dino Riders!


See, that’s why you never want to break the glass dome on a Spencer’s Gifts Plasma Ball. 30 city blocks were vaporized and all because these guys wanted to make one of those “What Would Happen?” YouTube videos.

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Anubis will return in
“We Turn Your Frowns Upside Down”

Enjoy the review? Hate the review? Have a movie you’d like to see judged in The Tomb? Fill out the feedback form! Never has it been easier to make contact with a deitic being!

All materials found within this review are the intellectual properties and opinions of the original writer. The Tomb of Anubis claims no responsibility for the views expressed in this review, but we do lay a copyright claim on it beeyotch, so don’t steal from this shit or we’ll have to go all Farmer Vincent on your silly asses. © October 1st 2013 and beyond, not to be reproduced in any way without the express written consent of the reviewer and The Tomb of Anubis, or pain of a physical and legal nature will follow. Touch not lest ye be touched.

An experiment…

In an effort to increase the output of my unasked for opinions, I’ve decided to test a rewards system for myself. If I’m able to publish at least 4 reviews in a month, my self-bribe will be a DVD copy of a movie from my ever growing “shit I want to review but can’t find a digital copy of online” list. Being on the verge of my 4th review (soon, my pretties, soon), I’ve picked out my gold medal for the month. What is it? I’ll let you know once it’s in my hands. 😉

Episode 103 [Rerun] – Grindhouse: Death Proof (2007)

or “Sex and the City 3: Blood On the Backroads”

Featuring: Kurt “Escape From New York” Russell , Rosario “Clerks II” Dawson , Zoë “Game of Death (2011)” Bell

Director & Writer: Quentin “Inglourious Basterds” Tarantino

Origin: USA

Also Known As: Death Proof

Review_____

“I’m afraid you’re gonna have to start gettin’ scared immediately.”

Intro: As mentioned in my Planet Terror rerun review, Grindhouse hits the big 1-0 this year, so what better time to exhume the remains of a pair of my old pontifications from the rubble of the old site (I should really get around to having that cleaned up) and see whether or not this double-feature retained its luster after the last decade? The answer: there is no better time…unless we’re talking about last month on the anniversary of Grindhouse‘s actual release date. But, what has been done cannot be undone, and what was not done is being done now. Got it? Me neither. Anyway, heeeeere’s Death Poof!

I mean, “proof”… here’s Death Proof

Original Review:
Quentin Tarantino comes in with the second feature of Grindhouse and, unlike Planet Terror‘s demolition derby of start-to-finish action and gore, Death Proof makes you earn that privilege by sitting through a lot of characterization and dialogue first. In other words, it’s a Tarantino movie. I’ve never had a problem with Quentin’s movies, I just hate the man himself because he’s a spazzy little pissant that should never be allowed to do interviews or step foot in the general public. But, if I was going to be slowly driven insane by listening to actors spew lines of vulgarity and pop culture references at each other until it pulled a Chinese Water Torture on my frontal lobe, I’d want it to be written by QT…or Kevin Smith.

Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) is, well, a former stuntman, in case you didn’t catch that part of his name. Mike used to do a lot of “falling off horses” stand-in work in the old days of TV westerns before falling back on car crash stunts when he ran out of actors to look like. But, in this modern day of Hollywood penny pinching bullshit like computer graphics imaging, jobs are scarce for guys like Mike. With all this free time on his hands, Mike’s got plenty of opportunities to find new ways to keep himself entertained. Whereas most normal guys would simply work on their porn collection or take up a hobby like pyrography, Mike instead discovered his new fetish: killing women!

Mike’s technique of choice isn’t anything as simple as stabbing, shooting or strangulation, though. Instead, he likes to involve them in violent car wrecks the likes of which no one could ever possibly walk away from. This way, said meticulously plotted slaughters can never really be seen as anything more than one guy’s unfortunate string of car wrecks. Would-be accusations of stuff like “premeditated murder” are immediately followed by stuff like “no concrete evidence”, so Mike gets away with little more than a brief stint in a hospital room for a broken bone or two, which is all in a day’s work for a stuntman anyway. But how does SM pull off such a thing without getting himself an early ride to the grave in the process? Turns out that stuntmen can super reinforce a car in a way that guarantees the driver will not be killed should the car be otherwise destroyed. This method is called…wait for it… “death proofing”.

That’s right kids, we have ourselves a title.

So, we have our antagonist. Now, where will we find him some victims? Enter Abernathy (Rosario Dawson), Kim (Tracie Thoms), Lee (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Zoe (real life stuntwoman Zoe Bell as herself!) – four friends looking for fun. Ab, Kim and Lee are all on break from their current jobs on the set of the latest Lindsey Lohan tripe, which gives them time to hang out with their pal Zoe who’s in town visiting from New Zealand. Seems that while she’s here, Zoe plans to live out a longtime goal of riding on the hood of a car (a game she calls “ship’s mast”) that’s the exact make and model of her panty-peeler fantasy ride from the cult classic carsploitation movie Vanishing Point – a white 1970 Dodge Challenger.

As luck would have it, such a car is being offered for sale by one of the yokels in the Tennessee area where the ladies are residing! After Ab sweet talks the car’s slack-jawed stereotype into letting the gals take a test drive (which includes a terrifying allusion to leaving Lee, cheerleader costume and all, behind so Billy-Bob can “get to know her”), the remaining trio of ladies take the Challenger out for a spin. Too bad for the babes that what starts off as a dream come true for Zoe turns into a car chase nightmare when who else but our homicidal hombre Mike, out of the hospital and behind the wheel of his newly proofed Chevy Nova, is back on the prowl to grind more fresh lady flesh under his Goodyears. What follows is one of the greatest car chase finales since The Road Warrior.

As mentioned before, the movie’s a bit talky. Since Grindhouse is over 3 hours long, people are going to be begging for any opportunity to hit the restroom and empty their Pampers. My best recommendation would be to drain the reservoirs during the first 20 minutes of so of Death Proof. If you love Tarantino’s writing you might want to ignore what I just said, but if you’re not the type who absolutely must see half an hour or so of characters being established only to have all of that effort flushed in the long run, heed my words. I could live with seeing everything before the first car accident scene trimmed down considerably, then leaving the last half of the movie as is, to be honest. But, like everything else on this website, that’s just my opinion. Despite the innately inessential opening act, the latter half of the flick makes sitting through the first half so worth the effort.

Kurt Russell looks like he had as much fun playing the weathered Stuntman Mike as Tarantino probably had directing the whole movie (despite its lack of his infamous inclusion of n-word carpet bombing the script). The man-who-was-Snake runs the range from funny to creepy to charming to pathetic and he does it all with a wink and a smile. His performance is nothing if not a blast to watch… sorry, “blast” was the best word I could come up with when typing this.

The cast of gals are all having a lot of fun here too and it shows. Zoe Bell should definitely mix in more actual acting roles with her stunt work (FYI: she was Uma Thurman’s double for the Kill Bill movies) and she looks like she’s genuinely having a pisser of a time riding that hood. Tracie Thoms is the definition of “crazy bitch” as she hoots, hollers and curses her way through the last 30 minutes of the movie and makes me wish I was cool enough to hang out with her. And Rosario Dawson? I’ve fallen in love with her all over again since the first time she made me do so in Clerks II. She’s cool, she’s sweet, she’s hot, she’s adorable, she’s a FUCKING COMIC GEEK and, when it gets down to it, she’s a hellacious bruiser! Her best moment? Wait till about two seconds after “The End” pops up on the screen and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

As with Planet Terror, everybody else on the credits scroll did their job and that’s about all I can say about that. Eli Roth (who directed the Thanksgiving trailer I’ll be mentioning later) and Tarantino himself have small roles too – Quentin as a friendly bartender and Roth as a patron at said bar trying to get his ovarian target for the night drunk enough to go home with her. Can’t say I blame him though, as I can only imagine the looks he gets when he tells chicks, “Yeah, I’m the guy who made Hostel! Wanna go back to my place and shit on my chest?”.

Aside from the two or three hundred movie references Tarantino drops throughout the dialogue (you’d think he was making a commission on DVD sales from these things…), I’m sorry to say that I’m not a follower of car chase flicks, so many of the tribute pieces were probably lost on me. For instance, if my mother-in-law hadn’t pointed out that the chrome duck hood ornament on Mike’s car was an homage to one used in the movie Convoy, I would’ve just seen a stupid chrome rubber duck. The one thing that I did pick up on (at least I think so…) was a scene where Stuntman Mike plows through a roadside movie marquee advertising a double feature for Scary Movie 4 and a Wolf Creek sequel. Somebody correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m gonna say that this is a little tribute to Wes Craven’s now classic use of a torn Jaws poster in the original The Hills Have Eyes as a way to say that the latter was a superior scare flick in comparison to the former. Did Tarantino use this to say that the double feature in Grindhouse is superior to an imaginary double feature of these other non-existent movies, or am I just reading too much into it? More importantly, do you care? Me neither.

As far as the Grindhouse gimmick goes, Tarantino shies away from the liberal use of film scratches and superficial burns that Rodriguez leaned on for Planet Terror, opting instead for other loving faux faults like audio hiccups and a couple of frames missing from the reel that cause cars to suddenly disappear, small pieces of conversation to be left out and people to magically teleport from one place to another. He also does a great bit with the opening credits, in which the title card for the movie’s original fake original title of “Quentin Tarantino’s Thunder Bolt” is clipped out for a generic looking still of the alternate title (that of course being “Death Proof”) printed in white on a base black background. That was a definite favorite moment for me. This movie’s “Missing Reel” moment is a lap dance scene that I couldn’t care less about missing to be honest, so if this was never shot and doesn’t make it into the DVD, I won’t mind.

For you trivia hounds out there, Stuntman Mike got into the stuntman biz through his brother, Stuntman Bob. If that helps you win ‘Jeopardy’ someday, you owe me 20%!

All in all, I meant what I said and I said what I meant: I recommend Grindhouse 100%. And now, for the “coming attractions”…

I’m going to talk about two of Grindhouse’s fake trailers here and the other two in my review for Planet Terror, so if you haven’t checked that out yet, do so when you’re done here.

The first trailer (which is actually the third trailer shown throughout the length of the double feature) is Don’t. In a hilarious lampooning of the infamous “Don’t [Action to be Disparaged Goes Here]” movie titles US release companies gave European releases in the States during the sleazy ‘70s, Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright previews a fake movie for us about people trapped in a haunted house, including the director’s frequent collaborators Nick Frost and Simon Pegg. Pushing the joke all the way, the trailer is entirely narration (by Will Arnett) with none of the actors getting off any actual lines, a trick used by said US releasing companies 30 years ago when they didn’t want potential audience members to know that the European movies being released under these new pseudonyms were cast with actors of heavy accents, worried it would turn people off. Much like Shaun of the Dead, this trailer’s literally brilliant and uses the underlying humor of its source material to full comedy effect. If I were the kind of guy who rated trailers, this would be a five star all the way!

Our final trailer is from Cabin Fever horror wunderkind Eli Roth, who brings us a parody of ‘70s and ‘80s holiday gimmick slasher movies called Thanksgiving that seems to be equal parts Halloween and My Bloody Valentine homage humor. The trailer goes for total shock factor, dick slapping everybody with graphically implied sex scenes and over-the-top gore. To put it in terms of audience reaction, everybody in the theater was laughing for Don’t, then groaning and gasping as loud and painfully as possible for Thanksgiving. Severed heads aplenty here, along with Cinemax level softcore scenes of chicks giving out blow jobs like they were Christian propaganda fliers, a disturbing scene of a topless cheerleader on a trampoline getting a very sharp alternative to a Tampax shoved up her birth canal, and a baffling final scene of someone cooked and stuff like a giant turkey before a very brief glimpse of what looks like Roth himself being sodomized at a dinner table…what the fuck?! Roth has shown he likes shock value over “artistic vision” and I’d definitely watch Thanksgiving as a feature, just to say I sat through it without blinking…because I’m a desensitized sociopath. Though I can appreciate some fairly done graphic violence and sex, the actual urge to see something like this isn’t as inspiring as I think the man was trying to do. 3 out of 5.

Xtro: Okay, for starters allow me to redact my pissing and moaning about Tarantino being a spaz, as it’s hypothesized that the mad genius of genre tropes and snappy dialogue may well have Asperger’s or at least fall somewhere on the autistic spectrum. I’m not saying he needs to be pitied as a result, I’m just over being annoyed by his manic mannerisms and “too much cocaine in his coffee” personality. Considering the mental demolition derby I’ve been involved in in recent years myself, that would also make me a bit of a hypocrite. And remember kids, it’s not hip to be a hypocrite… just ignore the difference in spelling there. My PSA is still viable, G.I. Jerkoff.

Unlike Planet Terror, Death Proof‘s special effects skew more traditional to the grindhouse theme, opting for what at least looks like 100% practical magic (housewife witchery not included) rather than dicking with digital deceptions. This ain’t no Fast and Furious fuckery, fanboys! This is a straight up traditional car-on-car bump n’ grind! And what did R. Kelly teach us before he was trapped in his closet and pissing on teenage girls? There ain’t nothin’ wrong with a little bump n’ grind. Or, if you too were raised on Mad Max movies (like moi) or those classic off-the-radar car flicks of the ’70s, the old way is the only way. It’s an art form that, depressingly, has fallen victim to technology and breaks my heart…well, except for Mad Max: Fury Road, because I pray George Miller my soul to keep.

Tarantino also made Death Proof with what you’d imagine to be an anorexic budget, as its 2 hour run time takes place in fewer locations than an agoraphobic’s weekly routine. So much of it happens in a honky-tonk bar or a diner or on back roads or just in the cars themselves that it has to be Quentin’s most minimalist shoot outside of Reservoir Dogs and The Hateful Eight. This doesn’t keep the man from shooting it all beautifully with his usual “100 different angles” style though, and even for someone who hasn’t spent so much as 5 minutes in a film class, it brings a tear to my eye and a jealousy to my heart. Speaking of jealousy, I imagine that most of the obscure movie posters and paraphernalia that decorates the sets belong to Tarantino himself, which no doubt saved a fair amount of pressure on the prop budget…unless he was smart and used said budget to buy a bunch of cool shit he himself didn’t already have, then just pocketed everything when the job was done.

The cast is fantastic, the direction and cinematography are beautiful (moreso if you’re a foot fetishist like QT, far less so if you’re a podophobic like my mother-in-law), if you’re a fan of Tarantino’s usual heavily scripted free-flowing dialogue by characters who would all kick your ass at Trivial Pursuit you’ll be happy to know it’s all there, the soundtrack is pitch perfect (because it’s gods damned Quentin Tarantino, so of fucking course it is), and the stunts are so eye blisteringly stellar that the team deserves a friggin’ constellation named after them! It’s almost a perfect movie. But…

The biggest problem I first had with DP (huh huh huh) was watching it directly after having sat through the 100+ minutes of Planet Terror. Even if I weren’t a lightweight when it comes to theatrical marathons (I’ve only watched two movies back-to-back in a theater twice), following up a zombie slaughtering action-comedy with a “talkie” that takes the better part of an hour before it sheds any blood? It’s a rough transition. I wouldn’t blame anyone who walked out, fell asleep in their seat, or passed on paying for a ticket altogether. Even as its own entity, I still have a major issue with the movie’s structure: it sandblasts my ass to introduce and flesh out a cast of characters just to kill them off halfway through the movie and introduce a second cast of would-be victims after. Why? Because the only person we follow throughout the flick is Stuntman Mike, but he’s less a main character than a catalyst! He’s the antagonist, fine, but we get no inclination of his motivation beyond that he’s a former fall guy who really hates women for… some… reason. Want to excuse this as part of the bad movie gimmick? No. If you’re giving us snappy dialogue delivered by talented actors but leaving out important background details about the only constant character in the movie, that’s flying like a lead zeppelin full of mud sharks.

My other gripe is the inconsistency of the grindhouse mimicry. The gimmick shit comes on heavy in the first few minutes with intentionally awkward cuts, audio skips, and that great title card change paving the way (pun intended). The grimy grainy motif carries on throughout the first half, but then the second half starts on an incredibly clean black & white scene (of which QT is keen) for reasons unseen. The colors come back on after the new apples of Mike’s evil eye are introduced, but the crisp look continues on until the finale. It’s an absolute orgasm for the oculars, especially now being able to see the grand 20 minute vroom vroom chase in 1080p, but why drop the titular shtick?! Punch my ticket and tickle my pickle.

And if you’re wondering if Tarantino’s penchant for excessively over-salting his scripts with a Lt. Col. Killgore level carpet-bombing of the n-word (and no, that’s not short for “napalm”), then yes. Not Samuel L. Jackson levels, granted, but Tracie Thoms does utter enough “niggas” to give Jeff Sessions a semi. So, if hearing said term churns your aural sensibilities, your ears will not be spared here.

While my reunion with Planet Terror reminded me just how much fun it is to watch, seeing Death Proof again bore me an all new respect for it. Despite my criticisms, I do appreciate the ass off of it! It’s not Quentin Tarantino’s best (in fact, he’s called it his worst), but it’s only one shelf below top shelf, and that makes it money in my book.

With that, kiddies, it’s time to say goodbye. Join us next episode when we get a visit from a certain team of super powered people who “guard” humanity from evil…

Moral of the Story: Bars offer all manner of pleasantries outside of booze. Alcohol is simply the lubricant for social interaction… unless you’re me, in which case alcohol is the legal anesthetic through which my body pisses off my brain by becoming completely unresponsive to any and all commands.

Screenshots_____

“I’m so glad I cut an emergency hole in all of my pants so I can plug up any unexpected leakage issues! Why doesn’t everybody do this?!”


“And then the monster was all like, ‘FIRE BAD!’ and shit. Hahahaha.”


“Bitch, does this look like an Appletini? If I wanted a margarita, I would’ve asked you to get me a margarita!”


Eli Roth wasn’t quite prepared for the vitriolic text he received from Keanu Reeves following the critical response to Knock Knock.


Cousin It spends yet another Saturday night dressed in drag and picking up strange men in bars, despite promising the rest of the Addams that it would never happen again after that weekend he spent locked up in Roman Polanski’s basement.


Special cameo by Eddie Izzard!


I wonder if he got that scar from eating pussy… or “pineapple” if we’re being censored.


In case you forgot you were watching a Quentin Tarantino movie. Oh well, it could be worse. At least his fetish isn’t school girls showing live eels up their butts or octogenarians shitting on Precious Moments Figurines!


If this were made in Japan, that would just be an indicator that she’s incredibly horny.


Beauford misread Jake’s comment and leaned in for a kiss that, sadly, would never come to pass. He and his broken heart resigned from the department shortly after to avoid the uncomfortable awkwardness between them that resulted, and spent the rest of his years married to Martha, dreaming of what could have been.


“Damn it, guys, I told you not to let Jenny have second and third helpings of chili for breakfast! I’m stuck back here with her for the next hour and it already smells like the ladies room at White Castle!”


A rare still from the long lost Michael Myers parody porn, “Hallowiener: Is That a Butcher Knife in Your Pocket, or Are You Just Happy to See Me?”. The producers were advised not to distribute it as a Betamax exclusive, but they insisted it was the wave of the future. But, as this ad proves, sometimes it takes more than sex to sell.


We’ve all been the odd one out when it came to 3 people riding in a 2 seater and you weren’t fast enough to call “shotgun”.


Despite his wealth and fame, Kurt Russell refuses to pay drive-in prices, opting instead to watch Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 from his neighbor’s roof.


“Well, it looks like Boss Hogg didn’t take too kindly to those Duke Boys leaving an upper decker in his private moonshine still, so it was up to Roscoe to put Bo and Luke on ice. And all this just hours before the annual Hazzard County ‘Wings & Wangs’ barbecue and penis measuring festival!”


Hey ladies, are your pants registered with Airbnb by any chance? Because I’d like to live in ’em for a few days while I’m in town! *rimshot*


“And THIS is for Overboard! You ruined my trust in men for years with what you did to Goldie Hawn, you sick freak!”

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Anubis will return next time in
“In Soviet Russia, Copyright Laws Infringe You!”

Enjoy the review? Hate the review? Have a movie you’d like to see judged in The Tomb? Fill out the feedback form! Never has it been easier to make contact with a deitic being!

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Episode 102 [Rerun] – Grindhouse: Planet Terror (2007)

or “Dicks Don’t Get Wet”

Featuring: Rose “‘Charmed’” McGowan , Freddy “‘Six Feet Under’” Rodriguez , Josh “No Country for Old Men” Brolin

Director & Writer: Robert “From Dusk Till Dawn” Rodriguez

Also Known As: Planet Terror

Origin: USA

Review_____

“Are you a wrecker, Wray?”

Intro: In honor of the 10th anniversary of Grindhouse, what better opportunity to revisit the ass cramping double-feature gimmick-palooza in all its glories! Especially since it’s one of the few movies in my life of which I indulged in numerous theatrical showings of. Three, in fact! That may not make much of an impression on your everyday cinephile, but for me it’s a landmark, as I generally make any and every excuse I can to avoid going to a theater. Not just because any other country in the world would call it extortion to charge $60 for a barrel of soda, a trough of popcorn, a handful of nachos swimming in off-brand Velveeta and a slighty-larger-than-average Whatchamacallit, but because I’d rather avoid having to explain to an usher why I thought shoving a sickle up some teenager’s asshole was an appropriate response to he/she kicking the back of my seat. Those monkey-suited motherfuckers are just begging for an excuse to go Rodney King upside the skulls of unruly customers with their damn flashlight!

What I meant to say with that unintentionally inflated introduction is that this review is from the rare Tomb vantage point of “written after returning from the theater”, so pardon any lack of important info I may have left out at the time of conception. Not unlike how your dad “forgot” to tell your mom that the condom slipped off shortly before what would be your own time of conception! Speaking of wet genitals…

Original Review:
Robert Rodriguez and I started off on the wrong foot. The first of his movies that I saw was Desperado. I didn’t like Desperado.

I remember being psyched about it after seeing the initial trailers, only to be greatly disappointed later in life when I finally did get to view it. Due in no small part to the fact that the adverts convinced me the movie was going to be 90 minutes of muy macho hombres in mariachi outfits killing each other with machine gun guitar cases. I think this was the moment I realized that trailers are teasing whores! They lure you in with promises of the best fuck of your life only to give you a dry hand job quickie, then demanding $200 before they have Dr. Detroit backhand you senseless with his pimp gauntlet and kick you in both shins with his platform shoes!

The pain of this Rodriguez trailer truth was eventually eased when I saw From Dusk Till Dawn, only to come back harder with all the kiddie fare bullshit the man shat out for the next decade. Having kids makes people do stupid, stupid things. I then got my hopes up when Once Upon A Time In Mexico was on its way to screens, only to have said hopes squeezed from me like a toothpaste tube ravaged by unruly brats who squeeze from the center. Monsters. Anyway, then came Sin City to finally stitch that wound closed. But…for how long?

And that brings us to Planet Terror, Bobby R’s contribution to his Tarantino collaboration – Grindhouse. Cherry (Rose McGowan) is a Texas go-go dancer fed up with her job who wants something new for her life beyond half-hearted stripteases. Perhaps a career as a stand-up comedian? Anyway, the little lady runs into her ex-boyfriend Wray (Freddy Rodriguez [no relation]) at the local BBQ dive and a renewed interest in each other is sparked in the process. Meanwhile, Dr. Dakota Block (Marley Shelton) is in the process of leaving her husband Dr. William Block (Josh Brolin) and running away with her son to go and live with her hot girlfriend. Unfortunately, both couples are about to get f’ed in their collective ‘a’s, because at a nearby military base US Army Lieutenant Muldoon (Bruce Willis) is in negotiations with Middle Eastern bio-terrorist/businessman Abby (Naveen Andrews)…who has a very sadistic hobby that, well, let’s just say it involves a source of protein.

Well, things go predictably sour between the two and the experimental gas that Abby’s been working on is released into the atmosphere, melting the faces of his henchmen and turning everybody into deformed, flesh eating maniacs! As with any standard zombie plague epic, it’s ghouls gone wild as the monsters make their way outward, infecting everybody they can get their bubbling hands on and causing general mayhem, including one victim who can only be described as “Mmmmm, Fergalicious”. The big thing that everybody’s looking forward to here though is the loss of Cherry’s leg, as it results in the equal parts absurdly hilarious and obscenely cool “machine gun leg” that’s become the movie’s most infamous characteristic. Don’t expect it right away though, because there’s actually a progression to said machine gun leg and, when it’s all said and done, even the machine gun leg isn’t the last trick in Cherry’s book of artificial limb weaponry…

Planet Terror is a total action flick “Penthouse Forums” letter from Robert Rodriguez to horror movies. Besides the obvious genre comparison to other zombie flicks, there are plenty of other references that Bobby tosses into the mix for the boils and ghouls to get giddy about when they start pointing them out to each other. These include but are not limited to Wray’s reference to his toe truck as “Killdozer”, a painful homage to Fulci’s famous “splinter to the eye” gore whore orgasm circa Zombie, and a great little death scene for Tom Savini himself that pays service to the man’s gory dismemberment work in both Dawn and Day of the Dead. This is how you make a horror tribute movie. Not by beating us over the head with non-stop dialogue dedicated to sucking the collective cocks of the old guard, but by giving your tributes celluloid form so those deserving of them can get the thrill of the old “inside joke”.

The gore is excessive and there were a few scenes of pustule-popping action that had one of my movie-going friends literally choking back her lunch. We get incredibly graphic and detailed exploding heads, severed limbs, gun shots wounds, stabbings, the aforementioned pustule eruptions, bodies splattered across cars, broken bones, hollowed out heads, and every kind of savage violence you could ask for to be done to a human body. Be warned though, because a dog gets killed in a very brief but very violent manner and there are barf friendly scenes of diseased and melting genitalia. There’s also one death that would be really depressing to see if it weren’t for the fact that you can’t help but laugh in the wacky “oh man, I knew that was gonna happen!” sense.

The characters are cheesy and I never really “cared” about any of them enough to say that I was sad to see them go when their times came. Their deaths, more often than not, contributed more to the movie than their actual roles. However, I do have to say that Rodriguez disappointed me as a paying customer to see two certain females live to the last reel, and that’s all I’ll say about that.

The story itself isn’t important, just as it’s generally not in any zombie plague film. As long as we know what started the whole thing, I don’t give a shit so long as I’ve got excessive violence and the human struggle to pull me through to the end! If you really wanted to, I guess you could try pinning some kind of morality or social commentary crap on it like so many movie geeks often enjoy doing, but that’s on you, Roger Ebert. I’m just here for the carnage!

Performance wise, Josh Brolin is a beautifully sleazy mofo, Freddy Rodriguez is a keg of whoop-ass in a 12 oz can, Quentin Tarantino is an unlikable dick bag (which makes his pain and suffering all the more pleasant), Michael Parks is awesome and criminally underused, Jeff Fahey had me thinking he was channeling a mix of Tremors’s Bert Gummer and Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2’s Drayton Sawyer (which was a good thing) and Michael Biehn was fun to watch as the local curmudgeon Sheriff. Everybody else is, well, good enough to get me through the movie. McGowan’s okay as the lead, but aside from the running joke of her unipod gimmick, I could take her or leave her.

As for the Grindhouse gimmick of abusing the film stock to make it look like an old exploitation reel, Rodriguez definitely runs with the concept more here than Tarantino does with the latter installment, Death Proof. The film gets grainy and scratched up, the colors wash out, there are frequent breaks and skips, and I enjoyed the overall presentation. I’m obviously too young to have any of the intended nostalgia bias from the theme, as I wasn’t around for the fabled “42nd Street Grindhouse” days, but I’ve suffered through enough low rent theaters and video nasty bootlegs in my time to have an appreciation for the effort. Each of the two movies featured in Grindhouse include a “Missing Reel” gag, and all I can say is that I hope the scene “lost” from Planet Terror was actually filmed as some point and will make it into the DVD’s special features section.

What more is there to say? See Grindhouse! Even if you don’t have the patience for a 3 hour feature, at least do yourself the favor of seeing Planet Terror and the faux movie trailers before heading home for your 9pm bedtime, sleeping beauty.

Speaking of those fake movie trailers, I’m going to talk about two of them here and the others in my Death Proof review. The first trailer is for Machete, a non-existent ‘70s exploitation action flick that wasn’t directed by Robert Rodriguez, didn’t star “#3 on my top ten list of all-time bad-ass movie motherfuckers”, Danny Trejo, and didn’t feature Cheech Marin as a shotgun wielding priest! Our title anti-hero is an assassin hired to kill a US political figure that intends to deport all of the nation’s Mexican populace back to their homes south of the border. Machete (named after his weapon of choice) is, of course, double crossed and must take down the honky assholes that tried to set him up. It’s like Shooter, only liberally breeded with a heavy dose of ‘70s sleaze and a Taco Grande-sized platter of Mexploitation. If I rated trailers, I would give Machete five stars and say that it definitely needs to be turned into a full feature, should Grindhouse 2 see the light of day.

Our second trailer is the Rob Zombie heralded Werewolf Women of the SS – a Nazisploitation flick about Hitler’s secret werewolf super soldier experiments that would combine Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS with The Howling and would star Udo Kier, Sheri Moon-Zombie, Bill Moseley and Tom Towles if Rob Zombie could stuff them all into his Delorean and take them back to 1974 to actually make this movie. The concept sounds great on paper, and I think Zombie could make something like this work if given a full feature to play with, but the trailer itself lacked the thrill I was hoping for. Maybe it was the cheap werewolf costumes or the fact that people like Bill Moseley and Udo Kier need more than 10 seconds of screen time to work their magic. Whatever the reason, this wasn’t a trailer that made me chew my talons off in anticipation of seeing this movie actually made. I have faith in Zombie and his cast though, should this ever merit a full length feature. Three stars for the trailer, but FIVE stars for Nicholas Cage’s cameo as Fu Manchu! I hate the man much less now than I did yesterday.

Xtro: You know that feeling of revitalized joy when you watch a movie you haven’t seen in years and, not only does it hold up, but it’s actually better than you remember it? Like, you’ve seen so much sub-par and/or straight garbage movies in that period that you’ve gained a whole new level of respect for it and life itself doesn’t feel quite as stacked with backbreaking misery as it did before? That’s me having watched Planet Terror again for this rerun-review. I’m fighting the urge to write an entirely new review, just so I can vomit rainbows and praise all over it for 10 pages.

I couldn’t find anything I didn’t like while watching this. Had I the ability to experience the full range of emotions that the average human brain does, I just may have gone through the entire checklist watching the intersecting lives of a one-legged go-go dancer, a tow truck driver, a pair of doctors, a BBQ cook, an arms dealer, an obnoxious pair of babysitters, a handful of cops (including Tom Savini’s bumbling Barney Fife-ish Deputy Tolo) and a militia of army men melting like they were put through a microwave. The acting, the dialogue, the excessive violence, the oozing gore and slimy grimy nastiness, the perfect balance of absurdity, the AMAZING soundtrack, the color saturation, the scratched film, the randomly exploding cars…EVERYTHING! I love it all, and I don’t use the term “love” loosely. Just ask my real-life romantic interests. I do not declare my love for anyone or anything I do not LOVE. There were bits and pieces of imperfect computer effects that weren’t great, even overlapped by the artificially aged effects on the film, but there are big ideas here that can’t exist in practical effects form outside the realm of a Chris Nolan movie budget, so I can deal with it.

I remember at the time Grindhouse was released, I’d read someone’s comments somewhere (good luckin’ fuck narrowing that down) about how these “homages” to the ’70s trash movies upon which the double bill took its namesake were all style and no substance. Some people were expecting less of the typical Rodriguez orgy of action and blood and white hats with tragic, mysterious backgrounds, and hoping for more of a faithful no-budget recreation of amateur acting, lazy writing, dime store special effects, and wall-eyed boobs jiggling everywhere. In other words, those people were expecting something intentionally bad. They wanted a parody that didn’t feel like a parody, not just a zombie epidemic action horror flick shot on film that was then dragged behind a car around a parking lot. I can respect their criticism, more so given that Tarantino and Rodriguez were promising a love letter to 42nd Street and not what a lot of people saw as just another “smell-o-vision” gimmick. But me? I fell for the gimmick. Call me a sucker, but I really couldn’t see Planet Terror presented in a “clean” format, because it’s significantly helped by the scratched film, garbled sound, “tampered reel” fast cut edits, and the “reel missing” gag. It works too perfectly as is to want it any other way.

Oh, and PT was my introduction to how phenomenal Josh Brolin is as not just an asshole, but a nuanced asshole. William Block isn’t even a total villain so much as a pissed off husband who found out his wife Dakota was cheating on him and plotting to not only leave him, but take their son with her. As if the guy clearly loving their lad isn’t enough to sympathize a tad with him, but when you consider how mommy gave little Tony a handgun and left him alone in their car, where he SHOOTS HIMSELF IN THE HEAD, this is one custody case that seems a bit cut and dry in the father’s favor!

If you haven’t seen Planet Terror yet for some inconceivable reason, get off your ass and scrounge up a copy. Given that video rental stores have been reduced to kiosks that only carry new releases, I guess you’ll have to rent the disc from NetFlix or hope it’s on one of the streaming services. Or, if you’ve got $5 to spare, I’m sure you can pick up a DVD copy in your local big box store’s budget bin. And if you don’t like it, leave it on a local playground for some wayward ankle biter to discover. Just make sure nobody sees you.

Moral of the Story: If you replace your leg with an automatic rifle, you apparently don’t need to pull the trigger to fire it, it’ll just know when to fire on it’s own.

Screenshots_____


“You expect me to pay full price for this? I’m not paying 100% for 80% of a knife!”


For his birthday, Kevin Smith gave Bruce Willis a contraption that lets him literally enjoy the smell his own farts, any time and any place!


Little known fact: that was the original title for the B-52s song “Love Shack” before the record company made them change it.


“I appreciate the offer, but I’ve already got enough jugs of my own, thanks!”


In this outtake, Freddy Rodriguez does his best to keep a straight face when Rose McGowan lets loose the biggest beef blaster this side of Norbit.


This is why you never insult someone while they’re eating a Gushers fruit snack, Bill.


“Do we need a car to purchase gas, or can we just drink it straight from the hose? Hello?”


Ted Raimi Lite – Same great Ted Raimi taste, but with less calories than original Ted Raimi!


On the next episode of ‘The New Enos’, Enos shoots off his ring finger on his wedding day! That’s ‘The New Enos’, right after a new episode of ‘After After M*A*S*H’ this week on CBS’s “Who Watches This Shit?!” Fridays!


Clearly Bill didn’t learn his lesson from the last time.


“I see you’ve gotten a new chest piece since we broke up.”
“Yeah. It’s based on a page from my nephew’s Lion King coloring book.”


Freddy Rodriguez stars in Night of the Living Dorf.


In 1972, Lloyd Kaufman was hired by the US Army to shoot STD educational films meant to dissuade troops from having sex with Vietnamese prostitutes. After an entire platoon suffered from Shell Shock following its initial viewing and were deemed unsuitable for combat, he was immediately fired.


Steve Bannon’s really let himself go since being booted from the White House.


I had the same reaction the first (and last) time I ate a KFC Triple Zinger Double Down King sandwich too.


Don’t even try picking up this lady, guys. She’s a woman of a whole different… caliber.
(No worries, folks. I punched myself after that one.)


“Hey handsome. You’re lucky that massive head wounds happen to be my fetish!”


“I wish I could quit you, Zeke.”
“I know, Scooter. I know. Now get off me. NASCAR’s on.”


I can see why she was the ”Shooter Illustrated” “Stroke of the Month” centerfold 16 months running! Then she was dethroned by that blonde who replaced both her legs with AR-15s, had a small American flag implanted on top of her skull, and has a tramp stamp of Hillary Clinton with a gun sites over her face.


So, after the Zombie Apocalypse the “Henry VIII/Rembrandt” look comes back in style? Good thing I’m too slow to outrun the undead!

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Anubis will return next time in
“Sexy and the City 3: Blood On the Backroads”

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