Feature 90 – The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again (2016)

or “Even Smiling Makes My Face Ache”

Featuring: Laverne “‘Orange is the New Black’” Cox , Ryan “‘Liv and Maddie’” McCartan , Victoria “‘Victorious’” Justice

Director: Kenny “Hocus Pocus” Ortega

Based on the screenplay by: Richard “I’m not involved with this remake in any way” O’Brien & Jim “No comment I could find online, but I’m pretty sure he’s also distanced himself from it” Sharman

Origin: USA

Remake/Rebranding of: The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Review_____

“Lost in time and lost in space… and meaning.”

It’s that time of year again, you turkeys! Let’s Do the Time Warp Again was meant to be an October review, but when I saw just how horrible it was, I thought it more appropriate to not denigrate the sacred month of 8 and instead lump it in with Turkey Day Month 2016. Read on and I’ll think you’ll agree. Won’t you?

This was originally supposed to be a capsule review for The Tomb’s Facebook page, but I had so much bitching to do by the midpoint of this abominable TV ghost of cult movies past that I felt it needed the full episode treatment. Also, I’m almost completely sure that there’s no way for me to jam pics and gifs into Facebook reviews, and they really needed to be a part of this to help properly illustrate my loathing. As such, let’s check out The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again, shall we?

Also, the doors are all locked and their knobs have been replaced with used dildos amassed from the dumpster behind the local retirement home, so just sit the fuck down and share my suffering.

When I heard about Fox’s intentions to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Richard O’Brien’s golden child with this made-for-TV remake, I got the typical “Pavlov’s dog” response to remakes that most of us over the age of 30 are stabbed in the kidneys with at least three times a year anymore. Unlike the original brainwashed canine, though, we don’t drool uncontrollably. Instead, we vomit vitriol and disappointment out of both ends, taking breaks to ingest large reserves of blue PowerAde into our systems to stem dangerous dehydration. We ultimately end up with acid burned throats and burning red sphincters glowing from magmatic agony while some cunts in Hollywood dream of rubbing stacks of stupid peoples’ money on their genitals. All of the online petitions, cries of protest and message board threats of sexual assault result in nothing changing, and we all just end up dying a little inside knowing that something we love has been weighed down with an anchor of garbage, then tossed into the murky depths of the “Nobody Cares! Get Over It!” sea.

But sometimes, if you keep the faith, say your prayers, and sacrifice just enough of your personal stockpile of pessimism, you will be rewarded. The whore mongers you accused of raping your inner child turn out to be fellow followers of your familiar fandom, and do right by your shared affection – not tarnishing its name, but instead adding to its legacy! Whole new generations learn to respect and revere these franchises, lifting them to new heights, sharing them with the world, spreading their gospel! Yes, sometimes you corporate mainstream meddlers in your ivory towers can cast off the scarred branding of “defilers”, bring pride to your executive producer credits…

…Hahahahahahahahahahahaha! Yeah, and then the drugs wore off! Sure, there’s the occasional worthwhile redo out there (The Hills Have Eyes and Evil Dead, anyone?), but the turds tend to outweigh the treasures by 100 to 1. Guess which side of said ratio Fox’s Rocky Horror remake stakes its claim? Here’s a hint: much like a thrice expired jar of Ortega salsa once tormented me with the drizzling shits, so now has Kenny Ortega done to an entire television viewing audience. All we wanted was NOT to have another beloved movie ruined with a remake.

“But Anubis, Kenny Ortega also gave us Hocus Pocus and Newsies! How could his version of Rocky Horror be that bad!?” First of all, didn’t I fit you with a ball gag when you came in!? Secondly, allow me to send up a surface-to-air missile to bring your Happy Hands down in flames – Kenny Ortega’s also the guy behind the High School Musical trilogy. The higher your hopes get, the harder I will make them fall…at least until the point of terminal velocity. Once they hit that, I mean, that’s as hard as they can fall, whatever the height. Either way, FUCK YOUR HOPES! MWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!

Anyway, by now we should be intimately familiar with the misadventures of Brad Majors and Janet Weiss, so let’s not dawdle with the details. And if you don’t know the story already, a hearty Conan the Schwarzenegger “To HEL wit’choo!”. Seriously though, for you neophytes out there (or those of you in need of a refresher), you can pop out your peepers and observe Episode 64 for my review of last year’s “Rocky Horror Show Live!” BBC special to get caught up. The rest of you? In the interest of keeping it short like Tyrian Lannister after a trip through The Tall Man’s midgetizing tanks, let’s try something new and make this a simple pass/fail review! Onward and upward, you sons and daughters of Oblivion!

► For starters, showing your RHPS remake at 8PM? Weak. Its cult status is that of a midnight movie, so shoehorning it into a prime time slot? You’re already starting off on the wrong foot with the fans, Fox. FAIL.

► The “Science Fiction/Double Feature” intro is now sung by a generic “white girl with a deep voice” usherette cast away from Hot Topic, played by Ivy Levan. I know nothing of her work or if anyone else even knows who she is, but she feels very much like a poor man’s Christina Aguilera/Lady Gaga/Adele/Amy Winehouse. I dislike her “try to make it ‘soulful’ like an ‘American Idol’ contestant singing the National Anthem” cover. FAIL. And I’m not saying this to be mean, Ivy, but I’ve got two words for ya: Crest Whitestrips.

► The entire segment in general? When compared to the original “Patricia Quinn’s disembodied mouth lip syncing Richard O’Brien’s singing” opening credits? No. And allow me to get this out of the way now for anyone who’s gonna try to call me out about how this remake is supposed to be different: if you don’t want comparisons to the original, DON’T DO A FUCKING REMAKE! FAIL.

► On its own merits though, this beginning makes for a fair music video style intro to the show, so I’ll also throw it a PASS. And don’t say I can’t do that. You don’t come into my house (or tomb, in this case) and start diddling my thermostat. At least not if you want to keep your fingers on your hands and not poking out of Ammut’s litter box.

► Presenting your made-for-TV remake as if it were being shown at an RHPS midnight theatrical show, complete with audience participation? The more you remind me of how much I’d rather be watching the original is not going to work in your favor, Fox. Pretending your version is cool because it’s framed with meta humor is lame. And not “so lame it’s cool”, Marge, so don’t even start. No, it’s lame like Christy Brown without all the artistic talent. Stop it. FAIL.

► Wait, so the actors are all emulating the original’s cast through hammy acting and overzealous mannerisms? Oh boy. I can’t imagine this sitting well with the teenagers this is being aimed at, who probably don’t know it’s supposed to be campy. Kinda torn on this one, since I hate camp for camp’s sake, but it’s sticking faithful to the tone so… Fuck it. PASS.

► Well, Ryan McCartan’s Brad is definitely the ideal of all-American young male doofiness. Meanwhile, Victoria Justice’s Janet has the “starry-eyed girl next door” thing down, though I do miss Susan Sarandon’s adorable bug-eyes. PASS.

► The Hapschatts’ marriage mobile’s “Wait ‘Til Tonite, She Got Hers Now He’ll Get His” shaving cream graffiti replaced by “She Said I Do, Now I’m Doing” instead. “Now I’m Doing”?! Is that even English? No. Whomsoever is responsible for that, get “doing” with a live light socket. FAIL.

► Post stroke Tim Curry putting in a cameo as The Criminologist? Smells like a poor attempt at Fox trying to convince the fanbase that this was a good idea. FAIL.

► Sadly, it’s not like Curry’s getting roles thrown at him today what with his current state, so at least he got a paycheck out of this. That part gets a pity PASS.

► Janet’s joke of “The owner of that phone might be a beautiful woman and you may never come back again.” is too on the nose now, given Frank’s re-casting/re-assignment. FAIL.

► Reeve Carney, you put way too much spirit into your Riff-Raff. He’s supposed to be menacing and broken, not starring in a production of “Rock of Ages”. I’d tell you to go back to playing Peter Parker in “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark”, but, well, we all know what happened with that… Also, where’s your bald cap!? And your hunch?! And your accent sucks. And your twangy country western lite rendition of “The Time Warp” makes me want to fill my ears with flesh-eating scarabs. Cease and desist. FAIL.

► Same goes for your Magenta, Christina Milian. You’re supposed to be depraved and imposing, not just some prancing tart in a sparkling maid outfit and hot pink fright wig. Your accent also sucks. A lot. Homosexual rest stop vampire Count Gaylord would take a break from his Saturday night slurp circle to tell you its suckitude is “a little much”. FAIL.

► One of the things Fox has been raked over the coals for on RHPSLDtTWA! is neutering it by turning the risque level down to a ‘3’. Despite this, the singers during the “Time Warp” scene are performing from between the wooden cut-out of a pair of 10′ tall legs positioned to look like they’re a woman on her back. So for all intents and purposes, this trio is supposed to appear to be singing while ankles deep in a giantess’s lapple pie…I don’t even…what…the fuck…am I looking at?! Either way, the dancers in this “toned down” version are all dry humping the shit out of each other for 10 minutes, so I guess it was just the “gay stuff” that Fox felt the need to back off on? FAIL.

► The Transylvanians all get their own unique costumes?! They’re supposed to be background fodder, not an attention grabbing orgy of extras in gaudy silver crotch-hugger outfits hopped up on Spanish Fly grinding against each other in a desperate display of “Look at me! I’m important too! Look at me!”. This smells like the meddling of a bunch of bit parters’ agents…who are probably also their parents. Fucking show biz parents. FAIL.

► Annaleigh Ashford’s Columbia is just heyday Cyndi Lauper with “I sucked off Papa Smurf” blue raspberry Blow Pop tongue? Riff Raff plays an electric guitar with a neon blue light-up neck? Fuck’s sake, Ortega, did your Wayback Machine run out of batteries when you re-imagined this!? RHPS was from nineteen SEVENTY-five, not nineteen EIGHTY-five! GAH! I feel like there should’ve been a part to go with this half-assed ’80s vibe where Brad refers to something as being “Bradical!”, because if you’re going to fuck the audience, you might as well go balls deep. FAIL.

► P.S. – Ashford’s “non-acting acting” is nails on a gods damned chalkboard. I’ll take Little Nell’s proto-Harley Quinn with the cracking, squeaky voice 10 times out of 10 over this deadpan Darlene Connor knock-off bullshtick. My heart (and my legs) are always open to sarcastic doom-and-gloom nihilist types, but not Columbia, damn it! FAIL.

► Rather than meeting Frank as our protagonists originally did, coming down in his little elevator to the anticipatory build of both the heroes and the audience, the modern incarnation instead sees her descending onto the set aboard a massive camera crane in some weird Mayan showgirl outfit. Though I can appreciate the spectacle, that’s all it is – a spectacle. The headdress is appealingly garish, but also more sizzle than steak. One of the story’s biggest moments burned to the ground. If gravitas were gravity, this version of the host’s introduction would be taking place on the moon. All-in-all, a big floating FAIL.

► It’s sad too, because Laverne Cox (what an ironic name…) puts on a fairly fair Frank impression. Unfortunately, as I’ve been griping about to my fellow Frankie Fans, this casting puts a silver bullet through the heart of the entire show. Put your PC sticks away too, because I have zero issue with a black person playing Frank and zero issue with a transgender person playing Frank. As long as they can play the role justice, it would be mathematically impossible for me to care less about skin color or background. And if you wanted to hire a transitioned male person to play Frank, that would be great too! But no, Frank being played by a woman ruins the point of his seduction of Brad and his attempts at forcing a hetero man-child of his own creation to be gay rather than Rocky instead dipping his hot dog in Janet’s mustard. And don’t give me the “Well, Laverne used to be a man!” argument either, because it holds water as well as Joel Robinson’s Wiffle cup. Who Laverne was has no bearing on who she is while playing the role in this movie. Championing her as a former man is like carting her around as a sideshow attraction. She’s a woman now, and a woman playing Frank goes against the point of Frank. FAIL.

► But, again, Cox plays the role pretty well compared to how much the rest of the cast fail their parts. Too bad she couldn’t have taken the role prior to transitioning. Despite my dislike of the casting, and her not putting enough of a bite into some of her delivery (her flaccid read of “I didn’t make him FOR YOU!” is especially disappointing), her performance gets a PASS.

► Damn it, Ortega! You fucked up the close-up shots during “Sweet Transvestite”! How fucking hard is it to do a couple of quick cuts rather than just setting the camera behind B & J and hitting “REC” while you take a piss break? FAIL.

► Staz Nair looks the part of Rocky as far as physiques go (though his frosted tips will give people Backstreet flashbacks), but turning his gold bodybuilder briefs into golden basketball shorts (that look like they’re made of a spray-painted elephant scrotum) just furthers Fox’s flaccid homophobic approach to this remake. Have I mentioned that it’s an abomination? If I haven’t, make a note of it. FAIL.

► Adam Lambert’s Eddie comes Evel Knieveling through a window (rather than out of Frank’s meat locker…not to be confused with her meat curtains…though that would’ve been an interesting twist), looking like some kind of lupine biker that shames anything in Werewolves on Wheels. He’s Eddie by way of Wolverine after a rough night in a leather bar. It works. PASS.

► But his singing voice lacks the macho boom of a rotund rocker like Meatloaf. A savage disappointment to hear a guy that looks so bruiserly have such a, well, Adam “Glambert” Lambert voice. When he’s mugging for camera during his song, it looks like he’s struggling not to scratch at a bad case of jock itch. FAIL.

► Rather than being pick-axed more times than a gold mine in the 1840s, Eddie ends up stabbed and falls out of a window. Fear not, as the dinner scene still happens later as planned, but this version of Edward’s demise is no prize. Frank’s subtle efforts at shiving the big lug in the guts is no match for psychotic Swiss cheesing given to the original article. FAIL.

► Given the gender swap, Frank’s seduction of the young couple doesn’t have the same impact, especially with how many “bi for the guys” college age girls have saturated pop culture in the last decade plus. Shooting said moments like regular scenes rather than from behind the veil of smutty silhouettes also kills the voyeuristic tone carried by the originals, losing both the style AND the substance in this instance. Blart. It’s a bad miss. FAIL.

► Watching a former Nickelodeon child star in her underwear fooling around with another woman is…not really having an effect on me, since I never watched whatever show it is she was the star of. Besides, after everything we’ve seen out of Miley Cyrus, former child stars doing adult stuff in little-to-no clothing will never carry the same taboo. Not a pass/fail scenario, I just thought I’d point that out.

► Ben Vereen sounds more like Morgan Freeman than Dr. Scott. With this change in character also comes the unfortunate negation of Scottie’s former role as a defected Nazi scientist. Now he’s just “elderly wheelchair man with Einstein hair”. FAIL.

► The dinner scene slips in a new *wink*wink* line for long-termers, as Columbia complains “I hope it’s not meatloaf again.” in regards to the meal’s main course. Cute. I’ll take it. PASS

.

► Additionally, though I hated “too cool to play along” slacker Columbia, as her tragic losses mount, she’s falling into place as the broken girl on the brink of losing what sanity she has left. Good. PASS.

► Kudos to McCartan, whose turn in the floor show as “broken man-baby in ladies lingerie” Brad denotes a man of courage. It’s also probably the moment in the whole movie most loyal to the tone of the original. He gets a PASS.

► Speaking of the floor show, all of the Transylvanians are present in this version. It kills the intimate focus on the main characters having an entire audience. Furthermore, you’ve not got two dozen people in the theater, but nobody does anything to stop Riff when he comes in with his neon guitar laser? They all just disappear during “I’m Going Home”? FAIL.

► The siblings’ new silver outer space glam rock heavy metal outfits are fun at least. PASS.

► While trying to escape with Frank’s corpse, there’s no RKO tower prop for Rocky to scale, so an iconic moment ends up as just another FAIL.

► On the plus side, when Rock dies near Frank, he does so reaching out to her a la Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam” painting, notably featured in the original RHPS‘s “Don’t Dream It, Be It” swimming pool scene. PASS.

► Brad, Janet and Dr. S sell the finale of their nocturnal excursion like they’re stumbling through a nuclear fallout, then just roll up their arm length gloves (well, Brad does) and walk off stage right like everything’s suddenly fine, no selling the fact that an entire castle is launching into the stratosphere not 10 feet to their left. Cool guys don’t look at explosions? FAIL.

For those keeping score, that makes for 11 “PASS”es and 23 “FAIL”s. According to my math (meaning no one can verify it but me, so don’t correct me), in Tomb terms, Let’s Do the Time Warp Again should get a 1.666 out of 5 rating. Traditionally, that would mean it rounds up to a 2, but there’s no way I can award a 2 to this movie. Instead, I’ll add a little personal bias to the data and round down to a 1. After all, reviews are all about the writer’s opinion, and bias is a part of opinion so, again, don’t correct me. Checkmate.When all is said and done (and “doing”?), this is just another remake for the “that didn’t need to happen” pile. It’s a befuddling muddle fuck that tries to be faithful to the original while doing new things, a tightrope it fails to cross and thus falls into the pool of starved crocodiles below. Everybody involved should’ve ignored the movie’s motto of “Don’t dream it, be it.” and just kept their desires for this production in their own nightmares and dreamscapes. For a production that tries in every way to be more over-the-top colorful than its predecessor, the performances are decaf as fuck for the most part. It feels…sterile. Whether it’s Ortega’s head we hang the shame hat on for wanting his cast to act the way they do, or we need to put in an order for a dozen more shame hats to cover the heads of the cast members themselves, somebody has to take responsibility. And when the ambition didn’t feel like it was under the floorboards, it was coming on too strong from actors whose characters are supposed to be restrained!

Have I been changed in any way by my viewing of this remake? Not really. Though I had no idea who Kenny Ortega was (aside from a guy whose name sounds an awful lot like New Japan wrestler Kenny Omega) before, now he’s got a spot on my enemies list. So…there’s that.

For those who enjoyed RHPSLDtTWA (it’s nice to know I’ll never have to type out that acronym again), good for you. I’m not going to tell you you’re wrong. However, if you use the following trains of thought to defend said stance, assume crash positions, because you’re about to be derailed.

► “But shadow casts happen every week all around the world and plenty of them include female Franks! Do you complain about those?!” No. Female Franks are usually done with shadow casts that don’t have enough guys to fill all of the male roles, or by groups where no guy is brave enough to dance around in women’s underwear in front of a crowd. Besides, this is a nationally broadcast remake, not some midnight screening at the Podunk Village Actors Guild Hall.

► “But ‘why did you hate this iteration so much, but not ‘Rocky Horror Live‘?! You just hate young people and things not aimed as you!” False equivalency. That was a live show, based on the musical, not the movie based on the musical, thus it wasn’t supposed to be faithful to the movie. Additionally, it was a production overseen by Richard O’Brien, so when the creator of the entire fucking phenomenon decides he wants to tinker with the formula, he’s more than welcome to! Also, had you actually read my review for the show in question, you’d remember that I wasn’t entirely thrilled with it either.

► “But Frank is an alien! Maybe he/she didn’t have an Earthly sex and you’re just projecting your archaic gender roles! Open your eyes, you Nazi sheep!”. Shut your fucking face, uncle fucker. Did you forget the numerous times Frank was referred to as “him” and “he” by the rest of the cast in the original RHPS? Just in case you did, remake Frank’s referred to numerous times as “her” and “she”, so again, cram it down your suck hole.

And that’s as much as I’m interested in talking about Let’s Do the Time Warp Again. Now that I’ve done my duty, it’s time for me to be doing. What? No fucking clue. Hope you enjoyed your Halloweening indulgences, kids. I also hope you had your younger siblings “test bite” your candy first for safety’s sake. You don’t wanna show up to Thanksgiving with a razor blade smile!

Moral of the Story: If you’re going to do a remake, stick to the source material. If you’re going to do a “re-visioning”, go all the way…and prepare for a hardcore backlash, especially if you fuck it up.

Screenshots_____

There are enough in the bullet-points above. See ya next time, ladles and germs!

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Anubis will return next time in
“Balls of Fury”

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.

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Feature 78 – Outcast: “A Darkness Surrounds Him” (2016)

or “The Love Below”

Featuring: Patrick “Wristcutters: a Love Story” Fugit , Wrenn “Boardwalk Empire” Schmidt , Philip “Life on Mars” Glenister

Director: Adam “Autoerotic” Wingard

Writer: Robert “’The Walking Dead‘”Kirkman

Origin: USA

Review_____

“Do you even remember solid poop?!”

For years the debate has raged over the state of acclaimed gangster rap performer Tupac Shakur. Most people accept his violent demise in a gang related drive-by shooting. Some opt for the conspiracy theorist route and insist that the man is in hiding somewhere, asexually budding new brain rhyme babies in a self-sustaining shelter deep below the Andes mountain range until his enemies have all been destroyed and he can safely return to the public eye to retake his throne in the second coming of rap Jesus. But few know the truth I’m going to share with you now: Tupac Shakur is being held in isolation at Area 51, examined and experimented on following a run-in with a mythical creature that left him… changed. No longer the Str8 Ballin’ perpetrator of the Ghetto Gospel and purveyor of California Love, he is now the nocturnal menacer of the innocent known as The Tupacabra!

Now that that Unsolved Mystery can be dragged and dropped into the “Solved Shit” folder, let’s all move on with our lives together, hand-in-hand, into the Great Unknown. First on the docket for the undocumented? “Outcast”.

Not to be confused with hip-hop duo Outkast (who gave us Alpha level earworms like “Hey Ya!” and “Ms. Jackson”), today’s topic of interest has a lot in common with “Preacher” (see last week’s review). They’re both cable TV shows based on mature reader comic books that center around Christian religious horror themes and they both premiered on the same weekend. Is it enough common ground that the two would hit it off during a round of speed dating and litter a motel room floor with their vestments mere hours after first contact? Fuck if I know. I don’t speed date. When I’m on the lookout for an inkwell in which to dip my dick-shaped quill, I just hit up DeitiesBone.com for theological trim. Use the code word “ANUBIS69” when you sign up and get a 3% discount on your Platinum or higher membership fee!

Whereas preacher Jesse Custer’s tale is more about over-the-top violence and what-the-fuck moments while accompanied by his oddball associates, “Outcast” keeps its themes more grounded in traditional religious horror. Namely demonic possession and the resultant evictions of said Satanic squatters. Our eponymous outcast is thirty-something Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit), who we first meet inhabiting his childhood home in self-exile. Living as a hermitous hoarder, Kyle’s living off of his savings account, munching milkless bowls of dry cereal and presumably just hoping the place will burn down eventually and take him with it. His sister Megan (Wrenn Schmidt), however, refuses to let her brother rot in peace and forces him go out into public with her, baiting him with the promise of groceries and basically cuckolding her own sibling into eating less like a college freshman and more like a human being.

With the exception of the embarrassment that comes with being a grown ass man whose sister has just taken control of your basic life decisions, this isn’t exactly coming off like much of a supernatural horror show, is it? Well, I was just about to get to that part ya paranoid android, so just hold your hard drive!

When he was a young lad, Kyle was the target of some pretty savage Babadookian domestic abuse by his mom. Everybody in the neighborhood knew about it, but chalked it up to her being bipolar, or “single parent stressed” as people called it before brain science gave us the term that always makes you think about a bi-sexual polar bear every time you hear it. Don’t pretend like you don’t. Denial ain’t just the river Isis and Osiris used to take us anthropomorphic ankle biters on holiday.

So, much like other rampant instances of abuse in those days (the ’80s?), nobody said anything and everybody just pretended it wasn’t their responsibility. If this were the final episode of “Seinfeld”, the entire town would’ve gone to jail. But, said abuse actually wasn’t the fault of Kyle’s mom (who I hear is a super King Kamehameha bitch on Sundays), nor was it even the fault of her broken brain. Mrs. Barnes was possessed. Like Linda Blair, only with less head-twisting and “LET JESUS FUCK YOU!” stuff. Eventually she ended up catatonic in a long term care facility (I won’t spoil how), Kyle and Meg got married (not to each other, ya weirdo), and due to some complicated complications Kyle was forced to leave his wife and daughter, hence why he now lives alone in the seclusion of his inherited homestead.

While out resupplying with sis, our hero overhears some ladies gossiping about a local boy who seems to be suffering an unwanted Satanic tenant of his own. After some soul searching, Kyle inevitably decides to offer up his help to Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister), the priest assigned to execute the evil spirit’s eviction notice. I won’t go any further with how the amateur exorcism plays out, but I will give you this much: it gives us our first explanation as to the title of the series and we learn from Anderson that said kid’s soul isn’t the only popular spot for demonic tourism in the area.

Unlike “Preacher”, I went into “Outcast” with my geek blinders on. Though I have the first 5 issues of the series locked away somewhere in my vault of four-color horrors, I’ve yet to read them. Much like the 2,000 or so movies I intend to review eventually but will likely never get through before my inevitable death at the hands of an enraged Charles Band. As such, I can’t verify or deny whether the show sticks to its source material or is veering from the creative path. Creator Robert Kirkman is not only along as an Executive Producer (much like he is with “The Walking Dead” and “Fear the Walking Dead”), but he’s also the show’s writer, so that’s hopefully a good sign for things to come as far as keeping the fans of the funnybooks happy.

The gore and violence are graphic enough to induce a few “what the fuck?!”s. The acting is fine. I haven’t seen anything amazing yet, but everyone plays their parts well enough. Fugit and Schmidt work well together as brother and sister, as do Fugit and Glenister as exorcist and sidekick. Fugit also does well in his portrayal as a shut-in. He’s proven that if he put a pillow under his shirt and grew out a huge beard and mullhawk (party down the middle and business on-the-sides!) he could play me in the adaptation of my award winning autobiography, Anubis: Browwed and Proud.

Oddly enough, my favorite part of the show was pint-sized actor Gabriel Bateman. “Oddly” due to my life mantra that child actors are the worst thing to happen to movies other than Uwe Boll. Young Master Bateman's (wakka wakka!) turn as the possessed little boy Joshua was great. Not so much for his vocal work (I was expecting something more demonic, to be honest), but because when we see him first possessed, the small things in his physical performance are very impressive. The subtle way he touches objects as someone experiencing them for the first time are perfect given that he's been taken over by a demonic presence that more than likely has never been subjected to our material world before. Kudos, kiddo.

Even though I gripe about how overplayed the possession/haunting theme is in current spookshow productions, I have to admit that I’m intrigued on the subject being shown in show form. You know, besides the two or three-hundred “ghost chasers” programs broadcast on cable channels that no one would watch otherwise, and whatever series that “Medium” or “Ghost Whisperer” may have beget, of which I have zero knowledge or interest. Season 2 was already confirmed before the premiere even aired, so there will be more adventures for our Outsider, Kyle Barnes (and whoever else survives these first 10 episodes). Speaking of, I’m curious enough to keep up with the show if for no other reason than to see if my theory about the origin of our hero’s eponymous moniker is what I think it is.

Coming from someone whose weekly television viewing habits are limited to watching 6 hours of professional wrestling, Comedy Central’s weeknightly 11pm to 12:30am block, and waiting for everything else to come to NetFlix/Hulu/Amazon in season-long chunks, it’s an interesting time for TV. Check out “A Darkness Surrounds Him” if you’re down with tortured characters battling inner demons and outer demons played straight and see if you like it. At worst, you lose an hour of your life you’ll never get back. At least it’s less time than you would’ve lost watching an Adam Sandler movie! You’re welcome.

Moral of the Story: Whether you opt to call the cops or the clergy, call SOMEBODY when you see signs of child/domestic abuse in your neighborhood! Whether the demons involved come from a bottle or a realm of eternal punishment, don’t be that shit who regrets not doing something when they had the chance to help someone who couldn’t help themselves.

Screenshots_____

Looks like Kayako got her hair stuck in a door. Again. Seriously, ghost girl, this happens every week! Just get the damn haircut already! You could donate it to Warlocks of Love! *rimshot*


“You’re my conscience? Like Jiminy Cricket?! Where’s your top hat and suit?”
“Look kid, could you stop worrying about my wardrobe and just kill your parents like I told you to?!”


I wonder if it took longer than a day to build that town.


Hey! Good to see Reg Cathey was able to still find work after FANT4STIC! Let’s hope Miles Teller isn’t so lucky.


Greyskull was here. (Google “Kilroy” if that one went over your head)


He kinda looks like Norman Reedus after an allergic reaction to shellfish.


Dear mothers of the world: please stop walking around pantsless in the presence of your sons. It can make for very confusing phases in their sexual development. It’s true. Do you wanna be responsible for the next Jeffrey Dahmer or Timothy McVeigh? I didn’t think so.


“That was my last cough drop! I need that soothing relief for my sore throat! Give it back you little monster!”


“You need not a brush, child! The power of Christ combs you! The power of Christ combs you!”


Well, at least somebody enjoys “Saturday Night Live” enough to advertise it through graffiti. Not the best spot though. And I have no clue as to which cast member that’s supposed to be. Maybe Bill Hader? But he left years ago.


I’m guessing that the real estate agent left out the part where Kyle would be neighbors with Jason Voorhees.


I know how you feel, kid. I react the same way when my Evil Dead Bride opens the blinds after my 3 day marathons every time a new Elder Scrolls game comes out.


When you said you had a problem with “a little mold”, I wasn’t expecting The Spanish Inquisition Shunned House! My advice? Burn the whole place down, have holy men from several religions perform exorcisms on the remains, then put up a temporary residence like a trailer to see if it comes back before making any long term plans. Or, you know, just move.

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Anubis will return next time in
“The Little Merc Made”

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.

Feature 66 – Ash Vs. Evil Dead: “El Jefe” (2015)

or “The B-Team”

Featuring: Bruce “My Name is Bruce” Campbell , Lucy “Xena: Warrior Princess” Lawless , Jill Marie “Girlfriends” Jones

Director: Sam “Drag Me to Hell” Raimi

Writers: Sam “Darkman” Raimi , Ivan “Darkman” Raimi , Tom “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose” Spezialy

Origin: USA

Review_____

“Well, it’s just… something happened that hasn’t happened in, like, thirty years.”

Feliz Día de los Muertos Malvados, folladoras de perros! For those of you that flunked out of high school Spanish, that means “Happy Day of the Evil Dead, dog fuckers!”

Ash. Is. Back. Alright! (Not to be confused with the Backstreet Boys, who didn’t make their fans wait nearly as long for their reunion tour).

Yes, after nearly a quarter of a century, the Deadite defeating dumbass with more bravado than brains has returned to pick up where he left off! Having been harassed by B-movie geeks about when we’d see Evil Dead IV: Army of Darkness Part 2 – Deadite By Dusk (in 3-D), the brains of Sam and Ivan Raimi and the chin of Bruce Campbell have combined their powers to bring the Stihl-handed hero of legend back for a Starz pilot series that may or may not lead to additional seasons once it’s complete (Update: it was approved for a second season before the first episode even debuted!).

Though there have been numerous comic books, video games, and even an Evil Dead remake in the time since we last saw Bruce himself don the scars of The Chosen One, the closest we’ve had to seeing Ashley J. Williams on our screens in the flesh again was the tongue-in-cheek My Name is Bruce. Entertained by it as I was (went to two showings of it on opening day!), it still felt like a 90 minute tease. Like paying for a night with the prostitute of your dreams only to find out they have a bad yeast infection, so the most you’ll get is a handjob. Sure, you came, but you could’ve stayed home and gotten yourself off for free.

By the way, I did my best to make that comparison as inclusive as possible for everyone. However, if you feel left out because you’re asexual or lack the equipment to reach climax via manual stimulation, my apologies. I tried.

Now come on, space truckers! Let’s get space truckin’!

When we last left our hero…well…it’s not made explicitly clear. The when the show’s timeline is picking up from isn’t specific beyond Ash telling everyone that it’s been “30 years” since he last dealt with Deadites. Given that there’s a scene in the episode where he fills in his co-worker Pablo on his unpleasant past with the Necronomicon and it only uses clips of the first two Evil Dead movies, I’m taking a stab that this series is a direct sequel to Evil Dead II. In 1987 (“30 year ago”?), ED Dos re-wrote the events of the original, making the first Evil Dead redundant. AVED (not to be confused with “Community“‘s affable Asperger’s nerd Abed) also leaves out any mention of Ash having traveled through time, so maybe it’s based on ED2‘s storyline (what with the severed hand) while sticking with ED‘s ending where Ash survived the night and there was no Army of Darkness time vortex thing. On top of that, Ash’s absurdly high-tech Dark Ages cyborg hand from AoD is nowhere to be seen either. It’s been replaced instead with a prosthetic mitt carved from rosewood that makes for a great ass paddler when you’re plumping the ol’ Ballpark Frank in the hot dog warmer of an unclaimed dreg you sweet talked at last call!

But I’m putting the funeral cart before the skeletal horse here. It’s been a long time, so let’s see what Ash has been up to for the last three decades! For starters, he lives in a trailer (just like in My Name is Bruce) and instead of working at S-Mart, our hero works at a dirt mall department store called ValueStop. I’d like to think there’s some “fall from grace” tale at work here where Ash lost his lofty S-Mart position (too many sexual harassment complaints to HR?) and is now forced to work at VS, but my guess would be that it really just ties into the whole “we don’t own the rights to Army of Darkness” complication. Confounded studio politics nonsense.

He’s sporting the aforementioned artificial extremity, and using it as a story prop to pick up soused lasses at the local dive bar just waiting to go down on the next guy who says he lost a hand while saving an endangered child. And what of the Necronomicon Ex Mortis? That Book of the Dead we all know and love, with its dust cover of human flesh and its ink of human blood? Ash kept it. Such is how he gets himself knee deep in the dead(ites) again, as you may have guessed. Thanks to a misguided attempt at male posturing nudged on by a few puffs of “green remorse”, Mr. Williams is about to unleash a whole new world (“a new, fantastic point of view!”) of trouble on his backwoods Michigan burg.

However, Ash won’t be alone in cleaning up his mess. He’s joined by his co-worker and biggest fan Pablo (Ray Santiago) and Pablo’s friend-slash-unrequited crush Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo). Pablo gives our man the moniker of “El Jefe” (we have a title!) and worships the ground he walks on (despite smarmy dickhole Ash blatantly violating the “bros before holes” edict), having unwavering faith that his hetero man-fatuation will be the hero this town needs. As for Kelly, Ash tries his “smooth talking grandpa” schtick on her, and let’s just say she’s well inoculated against our protagonist’s verbal Spanish Fly.

If you’re worried about there being too much talk and not enough action in this establishing episode, then belay your trepidation you tiny fool, because El Jefe and the Ashketeers throw down with a few demonically possessed podunks before all is said and done! I’ll spare you the details for your own viewing, but I will give you this much – it’s just as splatstick wacky sauce as you’d expect from a Sam Raimi fight scene!

This story’s not just about Ashley and his pals, though. The non-such sections introduce us to another newcomer: Michigan State Trooper Amanda Fisher (Jill Marie Jones), who has her own run-in with the soul swallowing Kandarian pests that leaves her very confused, very disturbed, and having an all too brief crossing of paths with one Miss Ruby Knowby (Lucy Lawless), who’s no doubt going to be playing a much larger role herself further into the series. Know how I know(by)? Look at her last name. Don’t get it? Brush up on your Evil Dead lore, you plebeian!

As someone who’s been playing mediocre Evil Dead video games and reading lackluster Army of Darkness comics (written by fanboys whose scribing skills don’t stretch beyond slight variations of Ash’s jerkoff dialogue from the last movie) to fill my Ash hole (wait a minute…) for the last 20 years, “Ash Vs. Evil Dead” is the long awaited return to form I’d become so sure was never going to happen. As someone who’d lost all hope and become quite cynical about the whole scenario, I wasn’t on the “The cup’s half full” side of the line so much as amidst the “The cup’s fucking broken and sitting in a landfill somewhere” group. But I’m so happy that “AVED” doesn’t suck that I almost feel some modicum of restored hope for humanity! Quite a feat since I’d given up on the species as a whole shortly after turning seven.. Or was that after watching Se7en?

The cast show some big promise already. Campbell is just as snide and sleazy in Ash's shoes as you remember, Santiago makes a good sidekick fanboy without being too cloying (though he’s really skirting the line, so I hope he doesn’t cross said line in future episodes), DeLorenzo does the tough girl thing fine (but is no scream queen, so I hope they keep her wails to a minimum), while Jones makes for a great contrasting straight character so far! I’m almost as invested in where her story goes as I am Ash’s! Lawless Lucy hasn’t done anything yet though, so I can’t establish an opinion based on a handful of lines and 20 seconds of screen time.

The more mature tone of the show is odd at first blush. Watching Ash getting jiggy with it (“it” being a bar fly’s backside) in the confines of a ladies’ toilet den and saying “FUCK!” remind you that this ain’t happening on basic cable. Starz is PREMIUM, baby! That’s not to say it isn’t immature at the same time, but this is the first ED sex scene that didn’t involve a rapist tree, so you get what I’m saying.

One of Raimi’s caveats when it came to bringing this fan bait to life was the use of as many practical effects as the budget could stomach. I appreciate his love for traditional effects and I would shake his hand for doing so. Unfortunately, the computer effects that we get stuck with the rest of the time aren’t the best. Nor are they helped any by happening alongside the practicals, which have the benefit of looking real because they’re as close as you can legally get to real gore and mutilation without making a snuff film. I do have to say that I’m pleased at how far digital arm stump technology has come in the last 20+ years, though! You’d think Bruce Campbell really did lob off his own hand for the sake of realism! Incredible what a green spandex glove can do…

All in all, “El Jefe” does what a premiere episode should: it caught my attention and makes sure I want to see more. I plan on coming back and reviewing the first season as a whole once it’s finished its run. I was just so twitchy and anticipatory to finally see Campbell don his chainsaw hand again and cut some chucklefucks in half that I had to share my feels on the premiere with everybody ASAP! I’m looking forward to what Lucy Lawless and Jill Jones’ characters bring to this b-movie A-Team, and not just because Double L showed us in Spartacus (boy did she ever) that she’s not afraid to bring out her 36Cs! Probably won’t happen, but at least the specter of her nudity will be hanging pleasantly over the proceeds.

On a final fun note of “can’t unsee” to leave you all on, if you shorten the title of the series a little it becomes “Ash Vs. ED“, as in “Erectile Dysfunction”. Think about it: we’re watching a man in his mid-50s (in a series written by equally aged gentlemen) struggling against an unseen force that haunts everything he does, making it impossible to live a normal life without stressing over the phantasmal monkey on his back. Hell, it ruins all of his romantic relationships and even literally interferes with his sex life! Gives the series a whole new metaphorical “age vs. virility” perspective, don’t it?

Oh well, at least Ash doesn’t have to deal with his dick looking like a melted tube of lipstick. Trust me, it’s a real hard sell to get over with the gals. Pun intended.

Moral of the Story: You can only use the term “retard” if you are one or you know one. Like a friend. Or a family member. Or your gardener.

Screenshots_____


Bruce Campbell stars in What Women Want 2: Get Medieval.


I know the copyright stuff probably wouldn’t allow it, but I’m saddened that isn’t a box of Ecto Cooler.


“Jeez, baby, you ever think of waxing your crack? Looks like you’ve got Macy Gracy in a head scissors back here!” (Reviewer Note: from where I’m sitting, at least her breath is minty fresh!)


It’s Leatherface’s dream journal!


This week on “CSI”, the crew are called in to find out what really happened at Justin Beiber’s Sweet Sixteen party.


“I’ve seen BLUUUUE SKIIIIES, through the teeeeears in my eyes. And I realize… I’m going home.”


That is some savage glaucoma! It’s gonna take more than a spleef to clear that up. Grandma’s gonna need a bottle of hash oil!


For some reason, Pablo wasn’t prepared for Ash to make fun of his new haircut. When the bliss of your denial is shattered.


If you put pictures of the 3 female cast members of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” through one of those photo mash-up programs, you’d get Dana DeLorenzo.


Just as it’s finally about to happen, Kelly reconsiders her Kingpin roleplaying fantasy.


“Hi. Is It my turn to be in the show yet? No? Okay. I’ll just keep waiting here then.”


“Damn it, Kyle, THIS is why I always ask you to chew your Gushers with your mouth shut! Get me a washcloth!”

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Anubis will return next time in
“Snake’s On a Game (of Death)”

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.

Feature 28 – Return to Nuke ‘Em High Volume 1 (2013)

or “Alma Mind Over Alma Mater”

Featuring: Asta Paredes , Catherine Corcoran , Vito Trigo… you’ve never heard of either of them and you may never hear of them again… until Return to Nuke ‘Em High Vol. 2 anyway.

Director: Lloyd “Class of Nuke ‘Em High” Kaufman

Writers: Travis “Mr. Bricks: A Heavy Metal Murder Musical” Campbell , Lloyd “Class of Nuke ‘Em High” Kaufman , Derek “Johnny Test” Dressler , Casey Clapp , Aaron Hamel

Origin: USA

Sequel to: Class of Nuke ‘Em High / Class of Nuke Em High Part II: Subhumanoid Meltdown / Class of Nuke Em High 3: the Good, the Bad, and the Subhumanoid

Sequel: Return to Nuke Em High Volume 2

Review_____

“Fuck me with your fish dick, Gill!”

Sorry about taking so long to get this review together, faithful readers. Suffered a bout of creative constipation in recent weeks, and given the shit that did finally come out, it all hardly seems worth the antici………… pation. Right? Oh well, fuck it. I’m here, you’re here, the bed covered in condoms and lube is here, so let’s just get down to the dirty horseplay!

What’s up with Troma these days? The last big production I remember them having was Poultrygeist, and though I really enjoyed it in fine traditional Tromatic fashion, that was way back in 2006! When I was in junior high and started watching these perverse, violent, cornball, cheap-o, safe sex, anti-pollution, feature length public service announcements, it seemed like they were churning out new movies every other year! Then again, I started late in my anthropological studies of the historic civilization of Tromaville, New Jersey’s bastion of bacchanalia, so maybe my being able to indulge in so much catching up via my local Video Pharaoh rental store just made it seem like an endless smorgasbord of sluts, guts, and butts. Either way, at this time of year, when students the nation over are chomping at the bit to dive head first into summer break like it’s a swimming pool full of beer and ecstasy, what better time to head back to the infamous campus of Tromaville High School?

Originally established as the second keystone of the radioactive waste dump house that Toxie built, the first Class of Nuke ‘Em High was very much a classic handcrafted creation of the underground, punk rock, anti-establishment, yuppie smashing, movie terrorists of the ’80s. It had tits and violence and mutants and marauding street thugs and immature dick & fart humor in perfect excess, all brought together by honor roll graduate of the Roger Corman School of Guerilla B-Movie Making, Lloyd “Turn Your Head and” Kaufman! Nuke Em High sang a song my teenage hormones could not resist. The sequels were…bad. Not in the fun way, though. ’90s Troma just wasn’t the same as ’80s Troma. They were definitely Troma productions, but aside from Tromeo & Juliet and Terror Firmer, it really wasn’t a great decade.

Much like Poultrygeist, Return to Nuke ‘Em High embraces the condemnation of the modern additives-centric food industry rather than the classic Troma trope of spraying diarrhea over the environment ravaging nuclear power estate. Now, I know you’re asking, “But Uncle Anubis, if it’s not about giving the ol’ fuck-you-finger to dangerous atomic power barons, then how in the name of Set’s nipples is it a Nuke ‘Em High movie?!”. Well, if you’d shut your shit vacuum and gimme a minute, I’d caress your cheek with my plot hand and whisper sweet expository nothings (not to be confused with suppository somethings) into your crusty ear canal like the dumb movie Don Juan that I am. So, yooooou juuuuust reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally waaaaaaaaaaaanna knoooooooooow what’s going on… at Nuke ‘Em High? Here goes – It’s been almost 20 years since the Tromaville Nuclear Power Plant had its second catastrophic destruction (at the fuzzy feet and nuts of a giant radioactive squirrel monster), taking with it the Tromaville Technical Institute it had built as penance for destroying Tromaville High School in its maiden meltdown during the climax of the original movie. Rather than tempt fate a third time by building another set of those big billowing concrete cooling towers, New Jersey’s very own Three Mile Island (to be honest, the whole state’s pretty much a Chernobylian disaster even without Tromaville) instead becomes the site of Tromorganic Foodstuffs Inc., while the old school grounds are the site of a wholly rebuilt Tromaville High! All of this is laid out for us in the film’s opening by none other than the deification of fanboy culture, Stan “the Man” Lee! Genuine geeks known Stan as the architect of Marvel Comics, and four-color know-nothings will just recognize him as “That old Jew who shows up in all those comic book movies!”. Stan gives the Nuke ‘Em flicks his own special brand of loquacious recap…well, the first movie. His treatments of Episodes 2 and 3 are less recaps and more summations of how we all felt about them. Also, Stan likes boobs. Dirty old man.

Oh, and don’t be alarmed if Tromaville looks a lot like Buffalo, NY. Apparently New Jersey would rather have its image ruined to the rest of the world with the true life horrors of Jersey Shore and Chris Christie rather than risk potential tourists mistaking salacious sociopolitical satire as a documentary. Trust me, Tromaville’s New Jersey is Candyland compared to the real thing. At least their Molasses Swamp isn’t full of bodies and their Princess Lolly isn’t a walking, slurring breeding ground for pubic lice and fetal alcohol syndrome.

Back on task, our new Nuke ‘Em High alumni-on-the-verge-of-having-incredibly-horrible-lives consists of our orphaned lesbian activist heroine Chrissy (Asta Paredes), the well-to-do duck owner and new-to-school Lauren (Catherine Corcoran), Chrissy’s blue-balled borderline psychotic boyfriend beard Eugene (Clay von Carlowitz), token black guy Slater (Stefan Dezil), Slater’s girlfriend whose name I didn’t bother to learn, and their fat, whiny, Prince Albert-ed geek stereotype friend whose name I actively pushed out of my brain because he’s just way too annoying to waste any of the already limited storage space of my gray matter hard drive on remembering it. By his own definition, the guy’s a “jelly roll, jizz dwarf, snatch badger, ass troll” who loves Batman & Robin, so that’s all you really need to know about him. There are also some random victims, a sex ed teacher who doesn’t come to a very happy ending (Get it? Sex ed? Come? Happy ending?), the school priest/football coach Father Sandusky (because child molestation jokes), gym teacher Coach Kotter (Debbie Rochon, stopping by quick to remind my penis she still exists), the disgustingly sloppy Rush Limbaugh parody Principal Westly (Babette Bombshell, who takes the prize for weirdest name on their SAG card… and is a credit that I’m not entirely sure is correct), and the Poofs – Tromaville High’s glee club, who are an unsublte parody of the cast of “Glee”, and are destined to go the way of the original Nuke ‘Em High‘s very same extracurricular group… which, if you’ve never seen the original, then (1.) you’ll have no idea what I’m talking aboot, and (B.) shame on you. Either way, we’ll get to that part momentarily, so just keep your boots on, Flesh Gordon.

Back to Tromorganic, having been built on the power plant grounds they’ve found a sizable stockpile of that Troma Green (my favorite Crayola color) toxic slime to use as filler for their so-called organic health food. Well, everybody’s always pushing the whole “go green” agenda, and you don’t get much greener than Troma Brand Nuke Sludge! Besides, feed some to your pet terrapin and you’ll have your own posse of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles before you can say “Eat a bag of dicks, Michael Bay!”. No longer able to sell their products to American fast food chains due to a few lost-then-found human bits (or, as I call them, the special toy surprise in every bite), Tromorganics company head Warren Herzgauf (Lloyd Kaufman, having a hell of a time not spilling milk all over himself) has pulled some strings with political associates (including President of the USA – Lemmy!) to get their not-so-organic delights deemed the official cafeteria garbage of schools all across New Jersey!

See? The “Nuke ‘Em High” moniker still fits. There’s no risk of nuclear detonation, but there’s still going to be plenty of teens being exposed to radioactive elements. Meanwhile, Lloyd Kaufman gets to give the Cleveland How’s-Your-Mom to the pink slime “meat” production industry, the fast food industry that tries to get their products into schools, AND the politicians whose pockets are packed with both aforementioned industries’ jizz and coke encrusted hundred dollar bills. Lloyd Kaufman – still striking out at industrialized evil with bad little dark comedies that are only watched by the same few thousand audience members that have been watching them for years.

While she’s not trying to take down Tromorganic with the hard-hitting junior journalism of her personal blog (that has even fewer readers than I do!), Chrissy’s attentions are focused on avoiding the sexual advances of her boyfriend (who has no idea the clam buffet he’s trying to get a seat at is reserved for members of the pink mafia only) and bullying new girl Laura. Said bullying isn’t really about Chrissy working out the emotional trauma of being an orphan, or even about hating Laura’s money. It’s obvious from the first exchange of glances that our anti-heroine is doing the “playground flirt” and pushing the girl she’s got a crush on into a pile of dog poo. Will this homo squish mission end in true love for Miss Chris? Or will it result in unrequited failure to launch because Laura’s female socket only takes male plugs? All I’ll tell you is that a giant mutant wedding tackle comes between the two before it’s all said and done.

Come Taco Tuesday at Tromaville High, the student body fill their student bodies with all the tainted imitation meat they can stomach thanks to the generous donation of Tromorganics. However, the Poofs get special treatment, and are fed chemically contaminated guacamole (despite being specifically told it was NON-chemically contaminated!). While the shock guac turns the school’s biggest nerd into a one-man meltdown (on which Principal Westly blames the boy being diabetic) a la the drinking fountain casualty of Nuke ‘Em 1, the Poofs are mutated into the Cretins – a gang of hyped up ultra-violent outland mutant rejects from Mad Max… well, more like Warrior of the Lost World than Mad Max, but you get my gist. They’re basically the embodiment of how every tenant at your nearest nursing home describes “teens today”, while still thinking it’s 1983. However you want to describe them to the police sketch artist, just don’t call them Juggalos or you’ll end up airborne and immolated in the KabukiCar.

For those who don’t know what the KabukiCar is, it’s become Lloyd Kaufman’s version of Sam Raimi’s Oldsmobile. If you don’t know what Sam Raimi’s Oldsmobile is, get thee to a Googlery! In other words, just Google it. Bad enough this review’s a few weeks late without having to hold a bad movie seminar on Easter Eggs! Speaking of, the KabukiCar originated in Troma’s Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD (hence the name) and is a clip of a big deal car stunt where a blue sedan is sent flipping 30ft into the air before crashing to the ground and exploding. It’s probably the most expensive scene in Troma history, hence why Lloyd gets as much mileage out of it as he can by inserting it into every Troma production since. It’s a big *wink*wink*nudge*nudge* for Troma fans, like the frequent Toxie and Kabukiman cameos, and the Troma movie posters that every character in the Tromaverse decorate their walls with.

The rest of Return is basically watching the Cretins commit acts of mayhem and Chrissy trying to pickpocket Laura’s ham wallet until the inevitable cock block ending that makes us wait until the next movie before resolving anything. What? You didn’t think a movie with “Volume 1” in the title wasn’t going to make you pay more money to see its conclusion, did you?! Yep, just like Tarantino divided Kill Bill into two “Volumes”, Kaufman has done the same here. As an homage? As a cash grab? As a joke that’s about a decade past its “sell by” date? Only Lloyd knows for sure.

Wondering if this latest iteration lives up to the lofty standards set by previous Tromatic entries (the kinds of entries with snapping jaws and corrosive fluids that the Surgeon General suggests keeping your penisy parts away from) in regards to graphic violence, barely legal nudity, and dick & fart humor delivered by comically ugly and/or overweight people? Allow me to put your nerves at ease: in the opening scene, a young couple engage in explicit sexual activity in the school janitor’s office/apartment, until they’re accosted by a monster shaped like a big mutant cock, the guy gets his dong torn off, and the girl’s flesh melts off before the comically rotund janitor returns to show complete disinterest in something that he’s probably seen a few dozen times before. I’m sorry to say that I know exactly how he feels, too, because I’ve now seen Return to Nuke ‘Em High.

Just like that janitor’s seen it all before, his reaction is the setup for the big joke that Return really is. Despite Stan Lee’s opening narration laying the groundwork for this being a sequel, it’s actually a remake. The title itself is a big meta joke – we’re not just returning to the locale of the titular high school, we’re straight up returning to the original source material of the first movie. So many scenes are directly lifted from the original, you could tell me that 90% of the script was just Xeroxed copies from the Class of Nuke ‘Em High script with big red editor’s notes scribbled in and I wouldn’t doubt you. They didn’t even change the name of the female lead! I know I made the Tarantino comparison two short paragraphs ago, but Kaufman also feels like he’s aping Peter Jackson, because much like Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, Return to Nuke ‘Em High feels like it’s artificially hyper-extending the story it’s supposed to be adapting. Again, it’s probably all meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but for the people paying to be an audience to it, that may be a tongue covered with oozing green pustules that they don’t want anywhere near their cheeks, front or back.

I haven’t had this much controversy about the way something was cut since the argument I had with that hooker who wanted to charge me extra for oral because I’m uncircumcised! Wakka-wakka! *rimshot*

Alrighty, enough with that stuff. Let’s get to the meat substitute and DDT-free potatoes of today’s feature. For better or worse, it’s your basic Troma blueprint: intentionally cheesy in EVERY respect, liberal on the liberal social editorializing, pokes Hollywood right in the eyes, heavy on graphic oozing displays of gore, more than enough scenes of young people getting nekkid on each other, and feels overall like it was put together with model airplane glue by a bunch of movie school dropouts in need of Ritalin between sessions of huffing said glue. That’s by no means a condemnation, just a preparation for what you are about to receive, should you opt for this belly buster off the value menu. If you’ve seen Troma, you know what your eyeballs’ taste buds are in for. If you haven’t, here’s a free pro-tip: the secret sauce is just mayonnaise left out in the sun. This quote from the movie sums it up better than I ever could, “It’s cheaper than monkey shit and these kids can’t get enough of it in their gullet!”

Now, what did I like, specifically? Aside from having an inner child who will never stop enjoying gore and naked women, my more mature adult self enjoys the social commentary, while my bad movie geek persona enjoys picking out the fan nods and synching up which scenes are direct re-hashes. The dialogue is pushed more for gags and stacked with quotables, but if you’re expecting high drama from these guys, you need to go watch a few episodes of “Troma’s Edge TV” and temper your expectations. The music’s a definite plus for me. That classic Nuke ‘Em High theme still lays eggs in my ears every time I hear it. After watching this, I had trouble sleeping for a few days because every time I’d lay down and close my eyes I’d hear “IIIIIIIII…. juuuuuuuuuuust… reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally waaaaaaaannaaaaa knoooooooooow!” between my ears, making it impossible to shut my brain up long enough to embrace unconsciousness! Fortunately, a handful of sleeping pills and a hot water bottle full of blood from a narcoleptic baby finally put me down, so there’s no need for anger. The rest of the tunes are pretty catchy as well, so this is another Troma soundtrack that I think I’ll be seeking for the collection. Not as good as Tromeo & Juliet or Terror Firmer, but worth a spot on the shelf. That’s right, this old man-jackal still has physical media. Bite me.

As far as the “played for shocks” stuff goes, I might as well be wearing a rubber gimp suit because I’m pretty impervious to shock at this point in my desensitized life. Example: there’s a part in the movie that the easiest descriptor of which would be the “duck rape” scene. If you thought the tree rape scene from Evil Dead was disturbing, well…yeah, it’s still pretty disturbing. Especially if the first time you saw it was with your parents, much like I experienced on Halloween night when I was 14. Lots of weird looks and questions of, “David, why did you pick this movie to watch with your family?”. It’s way more disturbing than the duck rape scene. The duck rape scene’s not nearly as traumatizing as your own mind might have already made it out to be. I run the risk of sounding like pure sleaze by saying this, but I really expected more from Troma when they promised me duck rape. I think I was more upset that I had to look at Judah Friedlander in his brief cameo than I was by the duck rape. I think I’m more upset that I keep typing “duck rape” than I am by the actual scene of duck rape! Blart. It’s like you’re barely trying anymore, guys.

Speaking of Friedlander (and his stupid trucker hat schtick), I don’t know if there were a lot of other notable cameos I missed beyond that and Lemmy’s quick minute as the President. The store owners from “Oddities” also get about 3 seconds of screen time (oddly enough, also during the duck rape scene), but I would’ve been far more hyped if it were the Maxx and the Head from MTV’s animated ’90s series “Oddities” instead of SyFy’s “weird shit curio shop” show. I’ve been to that store, by the way. Looks like Michael Jackson’s basement…not that I would have any reason to have been in Michael Jackson’s basement…uhm…moving on!

Speaking of cameos, long time Troma faithful will be happy to see a cameo by the Toxic Avenger’s long-time semi-nemesis Cigar Face (Dan Snow)! Be warned, he may give you six new assholes after he tells you the origin of his name.That one was for the HUGE fellow nerds reading this. For the rest of you? Pecker snot. Why? I didn’t want you to feel left out.

Last call – though entertaining in its own right, Return to Nuke ‘Em High is less than the sum of its parts. If it weren’t just a bloated re-packaging of the original and gave us something new instead, I probably would’ve liked it more. For those hoping for a new revolution from the little bad movies studio that could, Troma’s just giving us Malibu Stacey with a new hat, while I’m content to just keep playing with Malibu Stacy Classic. Now, pardon my sudden departure as I go off to have a Cigar Face t-shirt made up. Later, spectators!

Moral of the Story: Propagation is health, being gay is worse than being black, and duck rape is life affirming. But, you can stop waiting for MySpace to come back, because the crack of doom is coming soon.

Screenshots_____

Proof that if you sell people 40 different versions of Army of Darkness on DVD, you’ve make enough money to finance your own movie releases!


Stan’s finally absorbed enough radiation from his microwave to prove Comic Guy wrong – he CAN turn into the Hulk!… or at least Bill Bixby.


This is what happens when someone gives you “the Shocker” during your period. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, “the Toxic Shocker”.


How Santa spends the other 364 days of his year.


Because President Lemmy doesn’t NEED a last name!


A tale as old as time, destined to end in tragedy (i.e. duck rape): beauty and the fowl.


Lloyd Kaufman’s doing the next Fantastic Four movie! Couldn’t be worse than Roger Corman’s… or the Fox ones, now that I think about it.


“Listen up, my conservative soldiers! This is your brave leader Rush, reminding you that explaining your position is never an option! ALWAYS DEFLECT, DEFLECT, DEFLECT! Just shout “OBAMA IS A SECRET COMMUNIST KENYAN MUSLIM NAZI!” as loud as you can and you’ll never lose an argument!… and if my ‘doctor’ is listening, I need a ‘prescription refill’. Gracias.”


It’s sad how the biggest shitheads always have the coolest t-shirts… and yes, I own a LOT of cool t-shirts.


A little something for the ladies! Incidentally, that’s exactly what’s printed on the front of my boxers.


…THE CAST OF CITY LIMITS!


Stephen Hawking: the college years.


Surfboards adorned with swastikas?! Surf Nazis Must Die 2: Fourth Reich Boogaloo confirmed!


The answer to “Whatever happened to Michael Hayes?”… that one was strictly for my wrestling nerds.

Anubis will return next time in
“Mommy’s Little Monster”

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