Feature 95 – Godzilla Resurgence (2016)

or “The West Wing: Japan”

Featuring: Hiroki “Attack on Titan” Hasegawa , Satomi “Attack on Titan” Ishihara , Yutaka “Oba: the Last Samurai” Takenouchi

Directors: Hideaki “Neon Genesis Evangelion” Anno & Shinji “Attack on Titan” Higuchi

Writer: Hideaki “Neon Genesis Evangelion” Anno

Origin: Japan

Also Known As: Shin Godzilla

Review_____

“Nothing in the first response manual applies here.”

(Author’s note: This review was intended for post in December 2015, so rewind your brains a few weeks to experience the proper mindset.)

Last year, for the International Congress of United Pantheons (I.C.U.P.)’s Non-Denominational Gift Exchange Caucus, I requested of my Mystery Mandatory Present Provider “an enigma box containing the forbidden knowledge of The Inferno”. What I got was a tin full of “Friends” trivia cards… I could solve a dozen Lament Configurations before I could tell you the name of Chandler’s fucking MONKEY! As per the ancient edicts of the ceremony, it’s sacrilege to reveal whose MMPP is whose, but I’d bet my life-size die cast replica of Stuntman Mike’s Charger that it was one of those smart ass trickster god pricks. Probably Loki or Coyote or, speaking of monkeys, Sun Wukong. Flea-bitten chimp. Every year he does that stupid gag where he ties a set of jingle bells around his tail, sticks it between his legs, and dances around singing his dirty version of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” like he hasn’t done it every year for the last six centuries. Fucking headache. Could somebody grab me a fistful of Anacin? My thanks.

Regardless of the culprit, I’m already prepared for the first season of “Fuller House” on Blu-ray (You can’t have a “Fuller” house! It’s already FULL, for James K. Fuck’s sake!) or some such shit to be my surprise this year, so I opted to indulge my sweet tooth and treated myself. After pulling a few strings, sacrificing a few Charles Band DVDs during the last full moon (*PUN!*) and calling in a “favor” from my import guy (your family will be returned to you unharmed in time for Hanukkah, Ishmael-san), I wrangled a bootleg of today’s feature! Pa rum pum pum pum, motherfuckers.

For you number nerds out there in the worldwide wasteland, you’ll notice that today’s episode is 95 rather than 93. Well, the movie I was writing up for the finale of Turkey Day Month 2016 was so mind scaldingly terrible that it gave me mental food poisoning. A bout of existential agony from which I’m still recovering. But, rather than let it get away unscathed, I’ve put it up on a meat hook TCM style to writhe a bit until I can get around to finishing it. And 94? The December entry for my year long celebration of evil clowns. I’ll be playing absent minded Dr. Frankenstein and going back to finish both installments in the immediate future, but for now they’ll remain “lost episodes” while I move on to (much) bigger and (MUCH) better things. Speaking of…

When Toho has taken to “rebooting” their main monster moneymaker’s movies in the past (Godzilla 1985 and Godzilla 2000), they did so by building off of the legacy of the original 1954 black & white unnatural disasterpiece. Hel, every installment of Big G’s Millennium series of flicks (with the exception of Tokyo S.O.S., which sequalized Against MechaGodzilla) were each, in themselves, separate sequels to King of the Monsters! Finally, half a century after God (Tomoyuki Tanaka) graced Earth with the grandest of grand Atomic Age monstrosities, Toho has gone back to the nuclear nightmare drawing board to not just start a new chapter, but a whole new book.

Unlike many Godzilla movies before, directors Anno and Higuchi waste no time jumping into the action. A mysterious undersea disturbance has suddenly activated offshore and made its way without delay straight into Tokyo Bay. And that’s not okay! The entire government goes into panic mode, half wanting to know what the threat is, half wanting to blow the fuck out of whatever it is, and half wondering if it can be contained or just driven back into the sea. If that doesn’t add up, don’t blame me. I haven’t taken a math class in 15 years and technology has made me stupid and dependent and… and… and unable to think of a third adjective. Poopie.

Anyway, as we watch elected officials scramble for data like Pizza Rat scurrying for a fresh slice, we the audience have a pretty solid hypothesis of just what it is that’s about to emerge from beneath the surf. Rather than stomping upon the shores of the rising sun though, this new kaiju instead swims its big finned backside from the bay straight into the Tama River, taking a tidal wave of upturned schooners and other sea crafts with it. The scene kinda reminds you of news footage from marinas hit by hurricanes. Like a boat warehouse came to life and the trauma of this ungodly abomination developing a fully functional digestive tract caused it to barf its overstock all over the place. Not unlike how I ended up last Labor Day when Boozerville Bottles & Kegs had a 3-for-1 sale on Tenafly Viper.

Leading biologists are called in for their expertise, but with such limited information available, none are willing to risk their reputations by make any guesses on just what to expect from the leviathan. The wankers are about as helpful as an atlas to a blind hitchhiker. Instead, a low ranking member of the Environmental Ministry (who happens to be an old college buddy of of our main protagonist, Shimura) chimes in with her observations, declaring the creature to be some manner of marine serpent, but one that’s grown flipper-like legs similar to a lung fish that would be crushed under the weirdo’s own weight were it ever to attempt going ashore. No sooner does the Prime Minister deliver such assurances to the citizenry via press conference, then with almost “F Troop” levels of pinpoint comedic timing, the monster sets its very large feet on land! And by the hoary holes of Yog-Sothoth is this beastie an all-over butterface.

Appearing nothing like the Godzilla teased to us in the movie’s promotional materials, I thought this abhorrent chicken of the sea was instead going to be the harbinger for the new king of the monsters, similar to the way 1985 prefaced the big guy’s eventual appearance with the massive radioactive parasite insect opening scene. That was one of the most pants pissingly terrifying movie moments of my childhood by the way, for anyone out there putting together a tin of trivia cards based on my exploits.

Anyway, this nightmarish amalgamation of Michael Crichton fiction and Jacques Cousteau fact turns out to be our titular Tokyo terrorizer! Resembling what would happen if a giant Moray eel and an Allosaurus had unprotected sex on top of a toxic waste dump, only to throw their resultant spawn into a dumpster fire following birth, this completely computer generated Jurassic juggernaut thankfully evolves like a friggin’ Pokemon with a Fire Stone up its butt! Climbing Darwin’s ladder with a quickness that would make Usain Bolt in Acme Rocket Shoes™ look like Droopy Dog doped up on Slo-Mo in comparison, the bug-eyed goliath becomes an upright walking, four limbed, air breathing horror show in a matter of hours, taking a shape more akin to the one-monster demolition team promised us… though still sporting a pair of googly-eyes that straddle the line between goofy and unnerving. He quickly retreats back into the Bay upon being confronted by the nation’s Self-Defense Force, though, allowing his human antagonists time to slap together a counterattack for his inevitable return. Like those friggin’ Salvation Army bell ringers that hang outside of the supermarkets every December, only less irritating and more dangerous.

Post rampage info shows that the monster powers itself with its own biological nuclear reactor, which means this Chernobyl on two legs (and with a hell of a lot of teeth) poses more of a threat to the citizenry of Japan than just collateral infrastructure damage. Good thing their weird pop culture obsession with virtually dating animals and marrying their pillows already has their birthing rates down, or they’d be in for a generation of flipper babies and tentacled toddlers! In a joint fact finding effort with the US Department of Energy, the creature’s likely origin comes from unregulated offshore disposal of radioactive waste materials some 60 years earlier. A Japanese biologist named Dr. Maki (who has since gone missing, leaving his private research materials behind for whomever found them) theorized that the superbeast was an ancient form of Lovecraftian deep sea horror that was altered by its exposure to the material way down in the ocean trenches. As the Americans call it (for no given reason), this “Godzilla” fed on the nuclear smorgasbord, growing and transforming into the mountainous menace it is today.

So, even after removing the marketing divisive material about the nuclear nightmare America inflicted upon their shores with Fat Man and Little Boy, Godzilla is still birthed from nature pointing up the folly of men? Okay. Well, as one born under “the red, white and blue”, I’m a little disappointed to see the consequential guilt trip of my government’s disgustingly short-sighted and irresponsible acts of wars past no longer used as the catalyst for further devastation. Then again, I suppose we got our fair share of penance when we shot ourselves in the foot with Zilla Takes Manhattan, so you can only expect a nation to endure so much. You’re the bigger man, Japan. Bigger than even Big Man Japan. Thank you.

When the demonic colossus reappears from the sea that spawned it, ‘Zills has once again transitioned, this time into the horror show that the advertising materials promised us. Now twice his previous size, his big dead salmon eyes have been replaced with beady little death gazers and the scads of random beastly fangs jutting from his mouth hole have, well, been joined by more of the same. He’s also rocking the newest iteration of his classic theme music, which should give fellow longtime fans a spine shiver as this ghastly goliath does right by his mantle and gets started turning the cityscape into an ’80s post-apocalyptic movie set designer’s wettest wet dream. Making His way to Tokyo, presumably to the nuclear power facility housed there, the government initiates a show of military force (partially so as not to appear dickless in the global political locker room) to stop Godzilla, or at least slow His progress while they work on a contingency plan to shut Him down. If you’ve ever seen any such show of “force” in a Toho flick past, you know how this is going to end.

The Defense Force’s hardware is even more ineffective now as it was in past movies, with current regeneration G not even acknowledging the machine gun fire and missiles exploding in his face. A lovely little testament about how you can’t destroy the embodiment of national PTSD with physical force. Artillery fusillades are as effective as roman candles and Red Ryder BB guns, while bomber payloads don’t even make him blink… well, he doesn’t have eyelids, so blinking is impossible anyway (kinda shitty evolution you’ve got there, boy-o), but you get the gist of my cliche.

With the nation’s neutered attack force (that’s what you get for aligning with Hitler!) seeing their best efforts barely even diverting the demon’s gaze, the US stick their military industrial complex shaped dick into the action on their allies’ behalf. What kind of “Mission Accomplished” banner moment will this cowboy cavalry carpet-bombing bring about? I won’t spoil it, but I’ll tell you this much for free – things go from “national tragedy” to “all seven levels of Hell on Earth at once” in less time than it takes an episode of “Shin Chan” to expose a child’s penis!

The USA thinks its strong-arm siege tactics are a fix-all, but said “problem solver” just leads to generational levels of devastation instead? Well played, Anno-san. I knew you wouldn’t let the nation of John Wayne escape the barbs of your lampoon harpoon. There shall never be forgiveness for The Conqueror from any Asian power, you racist bastards!

In light of the epic failure of the attempted efforts of the USAF bombing on Godzilla, the UN proposes that the nuclear option is the only means remaining if the rest of the world want to safeguard themselves against their own visits of retaliation from the 400ft tall atomic Krampus. Can Godzilla be put down without the Land of the Rising Sun being turned into the Land of the World’s 24 Hour Nightlight? Will our heroes be able to stand up to the Beast of Tokyo Bay before the Hell’s Highway paving good intentions of the rest of the planet leave the entire island bombed back to the Stone Age? Well, if the Stone Age were known for being an irradiated wasteland unable to support life of any kind. That’s such a stupid statement when you think about it. How does carpet-bombing the fuck out of a place denote that its surviving citizenry will be devolved back into stone tool using cave dwellers somehow? I’m pretty sure that said survivors would retain their knowledge of modern education and technology, keeping them well above the status of even a Flinstonian existence, let alone the actual Stone Age.

The big point of all this is that NONE OF IT MATTERS, because whether or not we hairless apes are actually able to cease or desist Godzilla, the radioactive fallout from his size 98,000 foot falls and blockbuster breath would leave the entire city (and likely much of the rest of the nation) UNFUCKING INHABITABLE FOR CENTURIES. Just ask this science-tician!

Kinda ruins the whole point of trying to stop Him, doesn’t it? I’d say our best option is to fast track those moon bases that Newt Gingrich promised us. Or hitch a ride to Metaluna with Exeter! You get used to the smell of mutants after a while. They’re just like our insects…just, you know, larger of course.

When you put aside all of the time periods and variances of the individual movies, when you boil the Godzilla filmography down in one of those Texas Chainsaw Massacre III oozing flesh pits, each movie is ultimately divided into one of two core categories: “Godzilla vs. Man” and “Godzilla vs. Monsters”. The kid inside me (don’t be gross, you sicko) can never get enough of the latter, but my adult self learned to appreciate the former once I figured out shit like symbolism. As such, as much as it would’ve been great to see what kind of charbroiled abomination the mind behind Evangelion could have turned Rodan or Anguirus into, I really enjoy the solo-kaijued Resurgence. Its treatment of Godzilla as an avatar for the real life Jigoku that Japan suffered through during the March 2011 tsunami and resultant Fukushima nuclear disaster is extremely effective. Emotional scenes of crews in radiation suits standing bravely in the face of the towering atomic inferno given form’s fatal exposure levels is a powerful tribute to the real life safety crews who made the same sacrifices to save their fellow countrymen from being engulfed in Fukushima’s fallout. I’m very curious to see if the long term effects of this new Godzilla’s first walking tour of Tokyo are felt in the sequel(s), much like people have feared the same long reaching damage of the Fuku.

On that note, like any Godzilla episode from either distinction, Resurgence‘s titular hellbeast is little more than a huge, grotesque, rampaging plot device as the movie is much more so about the drama of its human cast. Unlike most previous tales, which focused on lovably wacky protagonists and their supporting casts, this reboot takes its cues from the very first Godzapalooza. Everything is played VERY straight, with its cast of specialists and political figures engaged in nonstop research, devising panic suppression and resource management, and trying their best not to shit their pants while doing all of it in the heat of the moment… subconscious Asia joke not intended. While we’re on the subject though, does anyone else think it’s just some long standing typo that that song’s titled “Heart of the Moment”? Fucking progressive rock supergroups named after continents they weren’t even from! A POX ON THEE!

The characters aren’t really given much characterization (to the point that right now I couldn’t attach a name to a single one of them if my afterlife depended on it), as we only see them in “business mode” for the majority of the movie. It’s fine though, thanks to the deathly serious tone. In fact, the few moments of personality we do see from them are all the more impactful and by the end we’re not just giving a crap about some of these paper pushers and hand shakers, but giving a crap about where their paths continue on from here.

While their leaders try to keep their heads cooler than Mr. Freeze behind closed doors, we’re sporadically given the general public’s take on the tragedy too. Though lacking in any leading or supporting cast representation, the teeming masses are instead shown via scattered bits of found camera phone footage. These moments give us the man-on-the-street perspective just enough to help us relate to our brothers and sisters of the East without overstaying their welcome. Definitely a better use of the gimmick than making it the entire axis around which your production rotates… I’m looking (with seething derision) in your direction, Cloverfield!

Despite my “I wouldn’t piss on ’em if they were on fire” stance on found footage gimmicks, it’d be cool if Toho had put together some shorts based on these moments for the DVD release. Much in the way Marvel was doing their “One Shots” shorts, but introducing us to some normal people that could become characters in later movies. Or just as cheap shots to our feels boxes by getting us to connect with said people just to watch them die horribly. Those work too.

My favorite instance of the peasants’ part in the picture is seeing mobs of them gathered in the streets, protesting the government’s proposed destruction of Godzilla because they’ve instead chosen to hail the kaiju king as a living deity! Great for me, since this was exactly the foundation for my proposed sequel to Legendary’s 2014 Godzilla, in which the nuclear halitosis vomiting bohemoth and his own legion of worshipers would clash with the cultist followers of Cthulhu! Patience, Anubis. One day you’ll save up enough Marlboro Miles for that Cosmic Cube, then *BOOM!* Godzilla Vs. Cthulhu on every IMAX screen in the world!

Given my imperfect rating up above, I was going to have to start picking nits sooner or later. Now’s as good a time as any. Nit the First: size matters. Remember in my Godzilla 2000 review when I bitched about the hideous green screen effects that made Godzilla’s size unintentionally fluctuate frequently throughout? Well, as much as you’d think that wouldn’t be such a problem in Resurgence, what with every inch of the city smasher’s DNA being born of computers for the first time in a Toho flick, you’d be wrong. Once again Zillie’s proportions vary depending on the angle from which he’s portrayed. I ‘m sure the majority of viewers won’t mind, nor should they. But, if you’re like me and such inconsistencies drag over your brain like high gradient sandpaper, be prepared. Most of these moments come about as the result of some pretty spiffy shots too, so I’d rather sit through them and tell the shrill voice nagging me about it to join the voice that keeps telling me to run over teenagers in the streets and shut up for a few hours. It doesn’t change the fact that the issue still exists, but ignorance is bliss. Just ask climate change deniers!

Nit Picks Part Deux – From the visual spectrum, let us now give the ears a chance to air their grievances. Though much of the movie races along sans soundtrack (apropos for all the dramatic tension the actors are swimming in), there’s a jarring moment where something that sounds like a Japanese professional wrestler’s theme music kicks in… Seriously. Legit. I shit you not. This bizarre track comes complete with rocking guitar riffs that gave me aural flashbacks to the similarly misplaced six-string screeches that heralded Michael Myers’ moments of menace in Halloween 6! These would’ve been forgivable for a less serious showing, say in one of the Great One’s ’90s era monster mash mosh pit throwdowns. But here? Why!? Why would you ruin a New York Philharmonic concert by bringing a sick cow dressed like a member of Twisted Sister onto the stage to fart violently at the audience!? The rest of the music is the typical symphonic brilliance you’d expect from a Toho Godzilla outing, which makes this Bizarro World birthed harmonic rupturing all the worse. Such ear abuse I cannot excuse.

Nits III: Nits Go to College – Japan should really invest in some manner of sonar or seismic equipment. I mean, I know you can’t have a Godzilla flick without scenes of the panicked public in terrified mob mode, but how were the government NOT tracking His movements underwater?! Toho broke out the BIGGEST Godzilla ever (all because of some overcompensational pissing contest to one-up Legendary’s then biggest incarnation, which also happened to be the moniker’s biggest moneymaker), meaning this Mothrafucker’s gotta cause a LOT of earth shaking and tidal waving when his gigantic carcass comes a rumblin’ back outta Tokyo Bay! Also, shouldn’t the entire nation have been in a state of emergency after the skyscraping super mutant’s previous path of destruction!? We see kids in school uniforms and salarymen in business suits running for safety when they should’ve been home huddled around their TVs and ready to evacuate at the first sign of ANY undersea disturbance! For Fucker Von Fuckington’s sake, even if you take the seismic and oceanic shit out of the equation altogether (because you’re just being a contradictory asshole), the moment that they would’ve made visual contact with that giant ravaged lizard head poking up out of the water, the air raid sirens should’ve been turned to eleven! Instead, you’d think everyone in Tokyo were all looking away from the sea for about 20 minutes, then turned around to see Big G suddenly making fucking landfall!

I had a couple of other minor moments of misgiving with Resurgence I would have been happy to quantify, but they deal too much with certain perishable materials I’d rather not risk spoiling, so I’ll leave those to drift off into the ether as I wrap this up like I would Lil’ Anubis in a reverse gangbang. Not that I’ll ever be able to afford enough prostitutes to make that happen with my credit rating.

I really dig the direction Toho took with the G-Man’s new incarnation. The serious atmosphere, the return to Godzilla as a source of horror rather than heroics, His burnt and heavily scarred appearance, His hyper-evolving ability that opens the door for all manner of creative choices, and top shelf CG that warrants its hefty budget by putting the “special” into “special effects”. It all works so well, that this may trump my personal nostalgia bias and put Resurgence atop my list as my new favorite “Godzilla vs. Man” movie. I’m absolutely excited to see how Toho follows up, which is only swollen to painfully girthy levels having seen the little end credits tease. Yes, for any and all who hate the trend of end credit pop-up scenes, too fucking bad because they’re everywhere and will continue to be so. They’re the Bebe’s kids of movie gimmicks – they don’t die, they multiply.

And so it goes. Whether you call it Godzilla Resurgence or Shin Godzilla, it’s the second fantastic flick to bare the mantle of the King of Monsters in a three year period. If I weren’t an Atheist Death God, I’d think I’d died and gone to Heaven. Give me a bottomless A&W root beer float and a self-regenerating stuffed crust pizza and you may just have a convert on your hands! Between Legendary and Toho, it’s a damn good time to be a Godzilla fanboy/fangirl/fantrans/fansans. Our long time significant other and our side piece not only know about each other, but they’re both doing their best to appeal to us rather than trying to bump each other out of the picture! Could this lead to, dare I say it, a three-way?! Not just a three way, but a three way where we just sit back and they work together to give us the best 2 hours of our life!? I can’t help but feel selfish even thinking about it, but damn! Mirth! Joy! Celebration!

We’re damn sure as shit going to need the imaginary nuclear nightmare of Godzilla(s) to keep our minds off the impending real nuclear nightmare we’re all staring down. Hopefully they can prevent us from going insane from paranoia induced terror and eating each others’ faces as if they were fried in the Colonel’s 11 secret herbs & spices.

Damn… now I’m hungry.

Oh, and if you’re at all curious as to why Toho switched the title of the movie from Resurgence to Shin for the US release, it’s because they didn’t want anyone to mistake their movie having anything to do with Independence Day Resurgence. From the hushed whispers of the damned who have seen IDR, I think Toho made the right decision.

Moral of the Story: Learn the ancient paper folding art of Origami. Not only will it give you a leg up the next time you apply for a job at a hibachi restaurant, but you might just prevent your own atomic annihilation!

Screenshots_____


The Japanese Prime Minister’s proposal of a heavy tax increase on used-panty vending machines was a dark day for many, and the ripples were felt both by the common folk and the halls of government alike.


“Oshiro’s trying to pass of ‘turducken’ as a legitimate word! Somebody get the newest edition of ‘The Official Scrabble Dictionary’ and snuff out the flame of this dishonorable old cur’s rebellion against Emperor Triple Word Score!”


Looks like Venice during a rush hour gondola accident.


I told Barney to get the abortion, but he refused to be a “murderer”. Well, good luck singing “I Love You” to that thing every night for the next 18 years!


To your left you’ll see Sanrio’s Hello Kitty Farm, the Gigantor testing facility and the famous Cosplay Garment District. On the right is the legendary studio where the first tentacle rape cartoon ever was produced in 1947!


So the government’s elite anti-Godzilla intelligence detail operates out of the backroom of a Kinko’s?


An entire staff of interns are assembled to clear Representative Hentai’s browser history before news of his affair with the star of Fart Woman 7 becomes public.


You don’t want to be anywhere near a living nuclear reactor when its IBS starts acting up! Everybody RUN!


The world’s hardest game of Minesweeper!


That’s exactly how my roasts turn out any time I try to cook with my broiler.


Those clashing colors and patterns are a mess! The Japanese government really needs to a take a cue from their Nazi allies and get Hugo Boss to design their uniforms.


“I’m starting to worry that we went a little overboard with the architectural design for the new Jewish Community Center. Think we could get away with Trump’s ‘Microsoft Shapes’ excuse on this one?”


If Freddy Krueger fucked Denver the Last Dinosaur and their baby was passed through an x-ray machine a few hundred times before abandoning it at the bottom of an active volcano, you’d get that.


THIS is why you shouldn’t hold in your farts all day. ESPECIALLY if you get your breakfast from Taco Bell!

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Anubis will return next time in
“Faster, Frankenstein! Kill! Kill!”

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 92 – Killjoy (2000)

or “Homey Don’t Play That”

Featuring: Ángel “Street Knight” Vargas , Vera “Stigmata” Yell , Lee “Once played an uncredited drug dealer on an episode of ‘The Young and the Restless‘” Marks

Director: Craig “Dead South” Ross Jr.

Writers: Carl “Urban Massacre” Washington

Origin: USA

Followed by: Killjoy 2: Deliverance From Evil ; Killjoy 3 ; Killjoy Goes to Hell ; Killjoy’s Psycho Circus

Review_____

“Damn, this motherfucker got some big ass feet!”

A glorious day to you, my heathens and sheathens! It’s me, it’s me, your A-N-U-B… I-S. Always rousing suspicions and arousing suspicious women! From Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man to House of Frankenstein to Frankenstein Vs. Baragon, everybody loves a crossover. Tapping into that vein for so much of its delicious delicious blood, I bring you the “Turkey Day Month Casually Mingles with the Year of the Painted Horrors” pairing you never knew you wanted (because you probably won’t) – Killjoy!



And boy does it fucking ever. I haven't seen a movie so forthcoming with its titular content since New York City Lesbian Gangbang.

Fun fact: I once couch crashed for a week in the Brooklyn apartment of Maria DaMaris, one of the titular participants of said location specific “no Y chromosomes allowed” flesh exchange. It’s true! Also, despite my emphasis of the “tit” in “titular”, Maria’s major physical asset is her posterior, even after her breasticular supplementation procedure. Also also, I was there as a regular guest, not as a sexy guest. Also also also, I may or may not have masturbated repeatedly in her shower…

Remember back at the turn of the century, when Charles Band tried to re-ignite the Blaxploitation subgenre in the late-90s/early-00s with his Alchemy Entertainment/Big City Pictures “urban horror” label? Whether it was a note of romantic intent to the ’70s milestone of cinematic screwiness or just a cheap marketing attempt to convince black and “pale skinned appropriators of urban African-American culture” (you know, “whiggers”) audiences to buy into his bullshit, it happened either way. The tent poles of this inner-city circus were The Horrible Doctor Bones, Ragdoll, and the face-painted farce of fear from today’s feature. Given that we never got Ragdoll Vs. Dollman or the much hoped for prequel Doctor Bones: the College Years, while Killjoy would see the light of DVD again and again in no less than a trio of sequels, the Dollar Embargo Pennywise knock-off was the sole survivor of the label’s purge. His adventures culminated with 2012’s Killjoy Goes to Hell, but unlike a certain masked menace who did the same 15 years prior, this monstrous mischief maker has yet to find his way back.

Oh wait, scratch that. It looks like Chuck Band has summoned his jugular juggling jester back from the lake of fire for the recently released Killjoy’s Psycho Circus. Fuck me.

Speaking of getting fucked, I’m reviewing my physical copy of this movie, which is included on a single disc with both the second and third such flicks that were available at the time. The main menu of the trilogy has no extras or options, simply offering the ability to select each movie individually, or to “Play All”… Who THE FUCK marathons the first three Killjoy movies?! This isn’t the original Star Wars or Indiana Jones trilogies! Fuck’s sake, my juice is dried up by the finish of the first film, let alone would I ever have enough left over to even attempt another 3 hours of half-baked harlequin horrors after the fact! Speaking of juices, let’s squeeze this rancid orange (I’m sorry, president rancid orange) for all its worth and hope we don’t get any in our eyes. Sally forth!

In case you weren’t aware that Killjoy was shot almost 20 years ago, it’s made very apparent from the start as our two allegedly high school age female leads, Monique (Dee Dee Austin) and Jada (Vera Yell), exchange dialogue likes extras out of “Martin”. The Martin Lawrence comedy, not the George Romero “vampire who’s not a vampire” movie, in case I needed to be clear. Their deep conversation on the ethical quandary of “using a boy for his phat ride because you’re tired of walking home from school” is interrupted by nice guy Michael (Jamal Grimes), who’s got a heart-on for Jada, despite Monique’s clear disgust of him and, well, pretty much any guy who doesn’t offer to drive her around in their Mustang convertible. Much as Jada opts to treat the lad like a human being, and may even have a little appreciation for his blatant affections for her, it’s made very clear that Mikey’s immediate future will be in a body bag if Jada’s boyfriend Lorenzo (the oil guy?) discovers the pair have been conversing. Despite all this, Mike still feels compelled to spit into the wind and asks Jada to their school homecoming dance. If you think this is the perfect place for this poor man’s Dulé Hill to get his Jansport kicked in and the Puma logo imprinted on his pancreas, you’d be a way better predictor than Nate Silver right now!

And if you don’t know who Dulé Hill is, I’ll do you a favor: he was the black guy on “Psyche”. Yeah, the one who looks kinda like he played Kenny/Bud on “The Cosby Show” in the ’80s, but didn’t. That’s Deon Richmond, who was in the 2011 Kevin Sorbo, Danny Trejo movie Poolboy: Drowning Out the Fury… Sorry, just trying to avoid talking about Killjoy. I’ll get back to swallowing this capsule of broken glass now.

Featuring all of the cinematic professionalism of an after-school special, our movie actually starts like one too! In true movie fashion, this is the scene that “hood thug stereotype that red states think all black people look and act like” Lorenzo (William Johnson) and his cronies T-Bone (Corey Hampton) and Baby Boy (Rani Goulant) roll up upon. Mikey receives the beating alluded to previously, courtesy of the “even more of a hood thug stereotype than his boss” T-Bone, as Jada screams in protest. Though seemingly vicious in execution, NY Strip’s assault doesn’t draw an ounce of blood (probably no room in the budget), while the most vicious blow is made instead by ‘Zo, who steps on Piggy’s specs and tells him not to be caught “slippin”. Getting up with relative ease despite his back being the stage for Porterhouse’s stomp dancing (maybe the bully was wearing Pumps, so it was like being stomped with little hemorrhoid donuts?), Michael shoots some pretty harsh stink-eye at a nearby homeless man who offered no help during the incident. Our hero (by default, I guess) then goes home and does what any victim of a tragic love triangle would do – attempt to summon a vengeful spirit named Killjoy by sitting in the center of a circle of his mom’s votive candles and angrily manhandling a clown doll!

No fucking attempt at explaining Mikey’s ritual is made, let alone where he learned such a practice, but the homemade voodoo ceremony is cut short when Tiny Male lures Mike out into the streets under the guise of regretting the earlier fracas and wanting to be friends. Anyone who falls for something that stupid deserves to be beaten up by a guy named after a cut of meat, Mikey, so you’ve only got yourself to blame when the goons kidnap your naive ass. They drive him out to a vacant lot (by way of a car rocking back and forth in front of a blank black back drop!), and getting a lead pacemaker “accidentally” shot into his chest. Well, a bit of a downer ending, but at least the movie’s over now, right? Let’s go home and have a piping hot mug of triple Swiss Miss with brandy!

Awww shit. I knew it was too good to be true. Instead we’re thrown a year into the future, where Jada has long since broken up with Lorenzo and is instead now being courted by another classmate, Jamal (Lee Marks). She still has unresolved feelings for ‘Enz (“What am I supposed to do? He took my virginity when I was with him!”), but Jamal tells her she needs to forget about him and start thinking about Michael… Wait, what?! Why should she be thinking about the would-be boyfriend her ex killed? Shouldn’t she be thinking about herself? Just ’cause you’re black doesn’t make you Montel Williams, man. Stick to the Easy Cheese pick-up lines and lookin’ pretty, leave the self-help shit to the professionals.

Elsewhere from all this woo pitching, Lorenzo, Newborn Male and Sirloin are still in their west coast ménage à trois, trying to freestyle about weed and passing blunts between their shifts at wherever the hell it is they make their money. Let’s say Good Burger. Anyway, as soon as Lorie kisses his homies goodbye so he can engage in a little bump and grind with whatever girl he’s currently staining sheets with, Infant and Rib Eye are lured out of their domicile by the siren song of a passing ice cream truck. Looking to indulge their munchies, the lads engage the truck’s owner, who proclaims himself an undercover drug dealer selling his product under the disguise of an ice cream shilling clown. Of course this painted pusher is actually the mirth spreading murderer of our title, and when he invites the pair into his parlor (well, his truck), they’re magically transported to Killjoy’s private pocket universe: a warehouse covered in shitty graffiti. Yep. No three-ring carnival of carnage, just an abandoned building. Once there, naturally the duo are done in, with Flank being “smoked” like a blunt and Kiddo being… hit by a truck? Okay, Tenderloin’s dollar store Freddy Krueger demise is expected, but dragging a guy all the way to your own little death dimension just to hit him with a truck?! That shit’s whack like Rob Ford’s crack!

Oh well. Adieu, T-Bone. You were too well marbled for this world.

Lorenz falls for the same gag sooner than later (as in the very next scene), attempts to unload 21 rounds from his magical movie REVOLVER into joy boy, then ends up holier than a Swiss cheese sex doll when Killy straight up steals Weird Al’s Rambo gimmick from UHF by making with an oral machine gun and spitting Zo’s bullets back at him, rapid fire. Well, technically there are NO holes in Lorenzo, because this minuscule effects budget couldn’t cover squibs, so instead he just has little bursts of red digital splatter flash over his torso for a few seconds, leaving behind NO holes and NO blood! You can see why it’s one of my “Top 25 Hemorrhage Inducing Movie Moments of All Time”… a list that doesn’t actually exist, but probably should.

Though infuriating, this scene brings with it the movie's solitary redeeming moment (aside from its 65 minute running time) – watching Lorenzo's new girlfriend Kahara (Napiera Groves) engage in a gratuitous shower scene. I know it's an all too common device that I've complained about in the past, but in such a white dominated genre, you just don't get to see a whole lot of brown-skinned beauties in that classic exploitation position so, well, I really appreciate it when it happens. Reminds me of my high school days when porn wasn’t available at the clit click of a touchscreen. Pardon me while I get “nostalgic” for a minute or two…

Ahhhh. I feel two quarts lighter! Back to business (or “biznaas”), Jada gets a midnight call from Monique of much urgency. In fact, it’s of such urgency that Foreigner would proclaim it an urgent urgent emergency. So urgent, so urgent, just wait and see. Remember that ineffective hobo (Arthur Burghardt) that sat idly by and watched a certain refugee from a butcher block scuff test his new kicks on Mike’s torso the year prior? Well, on the anniversary of the love-lorned loser’s loss of life that same nameless squatter, possibly while hopped up on Viper (+25 movie nerd points to anyone who knows that reference without Googling it!), has sought out the girls to recap everything from the first act to burn off another 5 minutes. For reasons he never explains, the “not nearly filthy enough to be a believable homeless guy” knows that Killjoy operates on CPT (Clown People Time) and has just now answered Michael’s call for revenge, 365 days late. Having offed Lorie and the Hoods though, shit should be all peaches and plums, right? Well, no. Turns out that Killjoy wants to ply his namesake to Monique and Jada too, while Jamal’s just a bonus, I guess. What did the girls do to deserve such treatment? Never underestimate the blind anger of a nerd scorned.

Pro-tip, ladies and gents: just because someone isn’t romantically interested in you doesn’t mean they’re evil. In fact, you’re the more than likely the only one who’s an a-hole, for holding it against them when they reject you. Trust me. Don’t set yourself up for the same regrets I did. Movies and TV and books and songs lie to you – there’s no such thing as someone you were “destined” to be with, and it sure as shit isn’t their fault or yours if they don’t have the same feelings for you that you have for them. Forget about ’em and keep looking elsewhere. Hell, stop looking for love and that little prick Cupid’s arrow might just pop you in the back when you’re not expecting it! Worked for me and EDB, just might work for you too. Now enough of the touchy-feely tripe! I’m not Dr. Drew and this sure as shit ain’t “Loveline”!

So, the old man disappears in a puff of smoke (maybe he has a stick of chronic burning in his jacket pocket?) and our trio of young African-Americans pretending to be even younger African-Americans opt to take the initiative and confront Clown Boy head-on (“Apply directly to the forehead!”), climbing into the back of his seemingly abandoned truck, parked conveniently right out front where the old man said it would be. Wow, so these kids are ready to attack welfare Pennywise (who’s yet to approach either of them and may not even have beef to resolve), all on the word of a random vagrant whose validity is due solely to his knowing their names and disappearing in a cloud of smoke like David Copperfield or Batman? These guys would probably follow David Blaine across an ocean of molten magma!

As soon as the three materialize in Killie’s murder warehouse (why everyone who goes to this place does so by landing on the floor in some kind of Power Rangers pose, I couldn’t tell you to save my fucking life), Jamal starts up with some Scooby-Doo “We need to split up!” nonsense that the girls aren’t having. Jammy-Jams even flubs one of his lines, but director Ross keeps it in anyway! Bravo, sir. John Singleton you’re not.

With repeated utterances of “We got to!”, Jamal pushes his insistence that splitting up is the only option and wanders off alone, leaving the ladies to their paired fate. In reality, I'm guessing this has to do at least partially, with the fact that there are three of them and only two doorways on the set for Bozo von Chucklefuck’s Haunted World of Spooky Black-on-Black Crimes. This lasts every second of about 2 minutes before the three are reunited, scared back together by Killjoy who…doesn’t really do much to bother them beyond his bad laugh, worse lines and some Tim Burton Joker-ish gag where he offers Jamal a literal hand. You know, cuz it’s a hand…and he offered him a hand…because it’s a severed hand…and Jamal thought he was just offering him a figurative hand…but it was literal… because…it’s…a…hand… Anybody wanna go in halfsies on a gun rental and a pair of bullets? I’m really not feeling much for this whole “not being dead” gimmick lately.

Our heroic trio are then forced to fight off illusory dopplegangers of ‘Zo +2, not because Jada needed to evolve as a character by physically exorcising her residual emotional attachment to her ex (she squares off with Steak ‘Ems instead), but because her new boyfriend just needed to kick her old boyfriend’s phantom ass to prove he’s better than a ghost. And he does, thanks to a ninja sword that he recovers from a tipped over box, because I guess Killjoy’s warehouse services those Chinatown outlet stores that sell decorative weapons to wanna-be Bruce Lees for less than a tenner. Right next to the polyester kimonos and the plaster dragons painted to look like they’re made of jade. Speaking of jade, Jada also benefits from said stock as Mo’ passes her a comically theatrical battle ax to fend off Ghost Beef. Because Charles Band’s props department is made up mostly of day-after-Halloween purchases he made from Big Lots. I had to fight him over a battery-operated wolf skeleton this year! It was weird too, cuz the damn thing still had ears somehow despite being a skeleton. I let him keep it. I’ll have to think of something else to get my sister for Cthulhumas this year.

Pastrami is shown that, despite his claims, being dead doesn’t mean he can’t be killed (or in this case, decapitated by Jada), while Jamal struggles with undead Toddler, attempting to gouge out the vato’s oculars only to miss completely and gently massage his eyebrows instead. Fortunately for our hero, it seems the brow ridge is just the weakpoint the exorcist ordered, as said light caress causes the baddie to leak green smoke from his eyes, cry out in pain, dissolve into a cloud of eyesore particle effects, and make that weird zapping sound you always heard from the Tesla Coils in a b-movie mad scientist’s lab.

‘Joy reappears, dispatching Jam and Monique with ease, then corners Jada and asks for a kiss. She complies, but only if he leaves their world forever. The capering antagonist could’ve easily pulled the lawyer card and instead forced her to stay in his world forever, citing unclear wording, but instead just does the dickhead thing and refuses to honor their agreement, just because. He then reveals himself to be Michael, who delivers a monologue about how unfair it was to be bullied by everyone when he just wanted some friends. Jada offers to be his friend, but he wants her to be his girlfriend, not his friend that’s a girl. She clearly wants to tell him she doesn’t like him “that way”, but hesitantly says yes instead, only to knife him in the guts a few dozen times when he gets aggressively huggy. Nothing to do with her station in life or where she comes from, but I’m guessing Jada did a stretch up the river at some point because she shivs that boy like a woman who’s seen some shit (or done some shit) in a prison lunch line before! This Dorothy’s been to Oz, and I’m not talking ruby slippers and flying monkey bellboys!

If you thought everything sounded stupid up to this point, you’ve only dipped a toe in the stupidity quicksand. Now, after murdered Mikey fades away, Jada collects Jamal and Monique and the three stroll out of the warehouse like everything’s hunky-dory. It’s not, of course, because we’re only 55 minutes into this little-over-an-hour mire. As I was saying, they walk out of the warehouse (which is just a warehouse now and not a parallel dimension?) and find the Killjoy Mobile parked across the street. You-dread-who pops up AGAIN with his three lackeys still in tow and proclaims that he can’t be killed in his world. You mean exactly like Freddy Krueger had to be brought into our reality to be killed? Right. But, I’m presuming that they’re all in our reality right now, right? Or are they still in his world?! I’m shit out of theories on this one, and hold your ponies lads and lasses cuz it only makes less fucking sense in a minute!

The good guys hear the homeless guy Obi-Waning in their heads and telling them they need to “kill the doll” (rather than “use the Force”), which they make it a point to vocalize out loud, cuing Kony the Clown in on their plan. He gets pissed and tries to chase them down, but they escape into the back of his ice cream truck, because it looks like all you need to do to get out of his trap dimension really is just walk out of its front door! And this time, rather than being thrown back into the warehouse-between-worlds, the magic fool bus instead transports them to…Michael’s old apartment?! How the fuck does this work!? What the FUCK was going on in your head when you wrote this, Mr. Washington?! I feel my brain being spaghettified right through my eyeballs by the black hole this movie’s collapsed reality is creating! ARRRRRGH!

Before Jada can destroy the doll it turns into Michael, begging her (while she straddles him in Cowgirl position…awkward) not to kill him because everything he did was out of love for her. She hesitates, which is odd considering how savagely she pig stuck the guy not 10 minutes ago! Ultimately her killer instinct wins out again and she gets the chance to murder her admirer a second time. Mikey cries out in pain, reverts back into a toy, and some mystical earthquake sends the villains back through a vortex to whatever homeboy purgatory they’re stuck in now. Jamal warns the girls not to break the circle of votive candles (which aren’t lit anyway…) and they huddle together to hold hands, transported back to Monique’s place with no explanation as to why. Jedi Fred Sanford awaits them there too, only to dissolve sans any further dialogue. Without batting an eye, Jamal suggests that the three go out for a bite to eat and everybody learns to feel good about laughing again. No, seriously, they get all dressed up, sit in a nightclub, and talk about how great it is to laugh… Somebody actually got paid to write these lines!

To keep up with the knock-off A Nightmare On Martin Luther King Blvd bullshit, it turns out this ending is just a nightmare Jada’s having that ends with Killjoy showing up. She awakens screaming in bed next to a horny Jamal who figures the best way to cure his girl’s bad dreams is with a mouthful of beaver, and with a Vera Yell, she cried “MORE! MORE! MORE!”. See what I did there? But when he comes back up from spelunking the meat curtains beneath the sheets, care to guess who he’s turned into? Yep.

And they made three four more of these fucking things?! There is no god.

I mean, there’s a lot of us, clearly, but there’s no god specifically for shitty movie prevention. I put in a dozen requests with H.R. (Human Resources, not Pufnstuf) and they just keep telling me that jars full of internal organs with “DO WHAT I SAY!” etched into them aren’t acceptable requisition forms. Friggin’ office politics.

And so goes the story of Killjoy, Carl Washington’s double rip-off of A Nightmare on Elm Street and It. A movie that can’t even follow the rules it makes up for itself as it goes along. A movie whose plot has more holes than Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur combined. A movie whose dialogue sounds like it was written by a mentally impaired 10 year old who just learned the term “good pussy”. A movie whose villain’s quips couldn’t even make a hyena hopped up on Nitrous Oxide and Red Bull crack a giggle. It’s sad too, because for the most part the cast isn’t horrible, they’re just playing one-dimensional characters and are bogged down further by the shit Washington filled their mouths with. Sick bastard.

Out of this cast of extras from a season of “The Wayans Bros.”, the only one who can’t blame the script for their piss poor performance is Lee Marks. Sure, he’s given some especially harsh lines, but his readings are wooden enough for Nick Offerman to carve a canoe out of. Either Marks didn’t get a chance to practice his lines and this flick was shot in the Roger Corman “one and done” style (which is very likely given some of the flubbed lines and bumbled camera work that were left in) or the guy was hired straight off the casting couch based on his looks, his lacking of acting be damned. Maybe he’s the ugly girl the others keep around to make themselves look hotter by comparison. Only… you know…the thespian version.

Batting 0-2, Killjoy‘s third strike comes at the hands of director Craig Ross, who is just as bad at his job as everyone else is at theirs. Wretched shot composition, miserable efforts to be creative by shooting from a low “pendulum” angle that even first semester film school students wouldn’t waste their time on. The gratingly stupid Superman landing that he has everybody do when they “jump” into Laughing Boy’s urban squalor Purgatory! It all flies as well as Thoth after a 40 oz. of Olde Egyptian 800 BC. That is one man-bird that cannot hold his liquor, malted or otherwise.

To finish out the bingo card, Killjoy‘s soundtrack, cinematography and editing are also dumpster refuse. Specifically that dumpster Willennium Smith kicks open in Men in Black that vomits cockroaches all over the ground. The only thing it’s consistent at is being terrible. Reminds me of the first time a girl went down on me, only with less teeth. If I were to best sum up my feelings for this incompetently cobbled together “Frankenstein’s monster if he were assembled from large pieces of putrid deli meat” via the medium of referential humor to a scene from a culturally relevant comedy movie released in the last 15 years (oddly specific criteria, sure, but just go with it), it would be the Sex Panther fallout scene from Anchorman where an office full of Paul Rudd’s co-workers are driven to odorous agony by his bio-hazardous, nostril napalm cologne. Remember “SMELLS LIKE BIGFOOT’S DICK!”? That was me by the time the end credits hit.

In the spirit of the season, Killjoy is such a gobbler that Turkey Volume Guessing Man gives it 3000 turkeys!

And if you don't get that joke, go back and watch the Riding with Death episode of “MST3K”. It’s magic. How magic? Remember that time Merlin turned his penis into a rainbow spewing dragon to have 6 month long tantric sex with Grendel’s mother so they could give birth to Electric Light Orchestra and raise them to write and perform “Oh Oh Oh It’s Magic”? That episode is MORE magical. 2 Legit.

With that, I leave you to your dinners of mass consumption, my friends and fiends. You know, if USA Thanksgiving is your thing. I’ll be back after the Great Binge for at least one more course of Turkey Day Month before the upcoming glut of end-of-the-year holiday themed nonsense waiting to come crashing down my chimney. No peeking, you pricks, or Anubis Claus will have to hollow out your eye sockets with a hot fire poker!

Moral of the Story: When you’re unarmed and fighting someone swinging a 3′ long Ginsu, maybe don’t defiantly proclaim “Yo ass is MINE!”. Unless you always wondered what it would feel like to have your internal organs shish kabobbed, in which case I recommend eating a big bowl of cherry tomatoes and cocktail onions beforehand. It’s always good to have a balanced, healthy kabob.

And ladies, here’s one for you: don’t ask your man job interview questions post-coitus. He doesn’t wanna hear any of that “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” crap after getting his kumquats juiced.

Screenshots_____


Big City Pictures”? Maybe in about as much as Provo, Utah is technically a big city too, sure.


“You paid how much for this fencing, girl!? I told you, my cousin Shaun is the chain link KING! Tell him we’re friends and he’ll hook you UP!”


“I believe I can FLYYYYYYY! I believe I can touch the SKYYYYYY!”


Hey geniuses, you forget to turn on the rear projector for the driving scene! I’d call you the modern day Notorious B.I.G. (Burt I. Gordon), but you couldn’t even get that right!


“You’re right Lorenzo, there is something blocking your barrel. It looks like a… bullet? … Oh shit.”


His stage name should be Rhythm Method Man, cuz just looking at him is birth control. *rimshot*


Movie immersion breaker #262: Who the hell has sex with the bedspread around their waists like that?!


“Come on B, you gotta help me find my contacts! The insurance company’s gonna raise my rates if I tell ’em I lost another pair of lenses, son!”


I’d make fun of her for picking that robe up at Phyllis Diller’s yard sale, but she looks better in it than the guest star of Boneyard ever did.


“Ugggh. I gotta stop eating out of the dumpster behind that vegan place. Those vegetables and shit give me gas out both ends!”


Note to our readers: Just because you memorized the lyrics to every track on “36 Chambers” and own every VHS in the Wu-Tang Collection reissue set doesn’t mean you’re qualified to swing the hardware!


“Hey kids! Remember krumping? Of course you don’t! No one does! Nor should they! We’re all better off without it!”


Looks like somebody didn’t learn their lesson from Richard Pryor’s example.


“There is a great disturbance in the Circus. We have a new enemy. The young rebel who destroyed our clown car. This boy is the offspring of PT Barnum. Search your feelings. You’ll know it to be true.”


Damn McDonald, your teeth are disgusting and your gums look infected! Time to lay off the Kools and Colt 45s, or the suits upstairs are gonna make McCheese the new face of the franchise!

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Anubis will return next time in
“Napoleon’s Waterloo”

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 91 – Phantasm: RaVager (2016)

or “Balls of Fury”

Featuring: Reggie “Phantasm” Bannister , A. Michael “Phantasm” Baldwin , Bill “Phantasm” Thornbury & Angus “Phantasm” Scrimm in his final role

Director: David “Tigger & Pooh and a Musical Too” Hartman

Writers: Don “Phantasm” Coscarelli & David “Channel 101” Hartman

Origin: USA

Sequel to: Phantasm ; Phantasm II ; Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead ; Phantasm: OblIVion

Review_____

“My use for you is at an end. You’re not even real. You’re my bad dream.”

You know those moments when you get your hype up so high that you’re oozing pre-hype, only to have the source of your oozing not just deny you said hype, but hit you in your hype zone with a hammer? Well, join the club. Uggh. Ra5ager is another one of those “I wanted to post this for Halloween, but had to hold off until November (I’m sorry, “NoVember”) because it’s too big a turkey to pardon” movies, like the Rocky Horror re-branding. Unlike the aforementioned botched effort to appeal to Willennials (what with their “gettin’ jiggy” and “big Willie” style), this irredeemable tank of cinematic septic sludge doesn’t even get the excuse of being a network exec’s cash-in fantasy.

Phantasm. Wow. In 1979, writer-director Don Coscarelli unleashed a new flavor in the field of fear when he introduced us to an old man and his balls. Now, in an Adam Sandler movie, that last bit would ravage the mind with horrifying images of a grandpa getting his testicles caught in his zipper, but in the world of Phantasm it’s horrifying for a whole different reason. When Angus Scrimm debuted as the now iconic Tall Man, a generation of horror fans pissed their collective pants. Five years before Freddy was giving teens fear-for-their-lives insomnia, this mammoth mortician was stalking his victims’ nightmares when he wasn’t prowling his mortuary workshop. Unlike other fear mongers, who would inject their terror through masks, He of Above Average Height relied on his everyday “twisted old man” visage, piercing stare and growling, bowel loosening voice to paralyze his enemies. And once they were paralyzed? That’s when he’d whip out his balls.

Said bloodthirsty spheres of steel became some of the most recognized death dealing utensils in horror. Flying through the air, they would chase down their victims, cutting them with their blades, boring into their skulls with power drill extensions, exploding through them at terminal velocities and even scorching them with death rays in later instances. So cool were these airborne murder toys that Anchor Bay release a Region 2 special edition DVD set of the first four flicks, contained in a big plastic replica ball case. My Evil Dead Bride begifted this little pocket universe of fantastic to me. Not only does this make me better than you, but it makes Her better than your significant other. Weep.

In addition to his vile volley of chrome cohorts, this tall glass of terror water (or “Flynt refreshment” as such libation would be known now) had under his wingspan a small army of small monsters. This cadre of diminutive demons were basically zombies that had been shrunken down in a giant food dehydrator then dressed up in robes. Basically Jerky Jawas. Despite the obvious opportunity for endless dwarf tossing jokes, the little beasties were always a source of hideous scares.

Over the course of the previous quartet of movies, Tally antagonized brothers Mike (Baldwin) and Jody (Thornbury) along with their guitar playing ice cream man amigo Reggie (Bannister) until 1998’s OblIVion, which ended on… a weird, Möbius strip type of endless looping…thing.

Though putting the series to bed on that note could’ve been acceptable (though confusing), after 37 years since its initial release we’re finally given the finale to the Phantasm legacy.

If you want a more detailed rundown of the individual movies and the labyrinth that is their cumulative narratives, don't look at me. I'm not Edward James Olmos and this isn't Stand and Deliver. Get your ass to Mars Google! When you get back, we’ll talk about RaVager, which lives up to its nomenclature by doing just that to its lineage. See ya in 2 and 2, Chuck Woolery!

…[Pause for station identification]…

Groovy? Groovy. Let’s get this over with.

Originally conceived in 2008 as a web-only gaiden (aka an internet side-series) that would follow the further adventures of hair-curtain hero Reggie, this concept (and footage) was integrated into Coscarelli’s pre-existing RaVager plot plans circa the turn of the millennium regarding a final battle between our heroes and their nemesis amid the post-Apocalyptic ruins of a disease ravaged (*nudge*nudge*) Earth in which The Tall Man reigned over the crumbling remnants of humanity. I remember Bruce Campbell being included in these original plans, and was sad to eventually learn that he was no longer connected with the project. He would go on to make some magic with Mr. C in Bubba-Ho-Tep, but that’s another tale for another episode.

I’m not 100% on the extent of Dadtasm’s involvement during the final countdown to his brain child’s demise, but I do know that he passed the creative torch on to David Hartman to finish what he himself had started. Why? Well, my hypothesis is thus: Coscarelli was unwinding one day, watching Tigger & Pooh and a Musical Too , when the radiation from a passing meteor bestowed temporary sentience and telekinesis upon a frying pan in his kitchen, providing the cookware with the momentary ability to throw itself at the back of his head, exacting revenge upon its owner for the many times he washed the poor thing with unforgiving Brill-O pads rather then letting it soak in soapy water first, then applying a soft sponge to remove the now loosened debris. Following said cortex rattling collision, Coscarelli returned to consciousness to see Hartman’s name on his TV screen. Feeling this to be a sign, he immediately got in touch with the man, ceding the reins to his purebred metaphorical horse and carrying out the prophecy laid before him.

But I’ve always had an “active imagination”. My parole officer’s been saying that ever since I was 15!

Whatever the case, RaVager returns the washed-up vendor of frozen treats Reggie to us after his altercation with Tally (pronounced like “Tall-E”) at the finale of OblIVion. Emerging in the middle of a desert wasteland with his vaunted double-double barrel shotgun, he discovers his beloved phallic compensater (and series mainstay), the jet black Plymouth Barracuda, not where he left it. Beginning his long self-narrated march down a barren highway in search of the nearest civilization (preferably prior to his death by dehydration), what should he come across, but that very same hot rod, now driven by its new owner (as per the “Finders Keepers” law), an even dumpier and less attractive loser than himself! There’s no explanation as to why the humanoid lung oyster would return to the scene of the crime, how he managed to find the ‘Cuda in the first place, or why he’d stop to pick up a thumb jockey in the middle of nowhere (clearly he’s never seen The Hitcher or heard ANY urban legend EVER), but whatever the reasons, the exchange ends with Reggie recovering his beloved whip and fat boy ending up in the middle of nowhere with nothing but his European-cut man briefs and a big silver sphere drilling into his face. Yep, as the poster for Phantasm II so joyfully declared “The Ball is Back!”

I love that movie. Oh Phantasm V, why can’t you be more like Phantasm II? D’oh.

Where the movie goes from here is, well, the very definition of a clusterfuck. Reggie jumps back and forth between scenarios where he’s driving across country in the “Ooooooo, Barra-Barracuuuuuda!” and being pursued by the occasional ball attack, suffering from dementia in a nursing home where he shares a room with a certain white-haired old man while being visited by Mike and Jody, or battling TM and his army of re-animated soldiers in a bloody red tinted “post-Skynet” world where he joins a group of revolutionaries that includes Mike, a woman named Jane (Dawn Cody) that Reg knows as “Dawn” in one of the other planes, and a pint-sized action hero named Chunk (Stephen Jutras) who’s your typical “I may not be tall enough to get on most carnival rides, but I can single-handed murder a dozen people with a knife!” breed of elite fighting dwarf that movies give us to up their action figure sales.

Though some viewers determined that these reality jumps are just Reggie having bizarre nightmares, in one of their nursing home scenes Mike tells Reggie about Membrane Theory (a.k.a. “M-theory”). Or at least boils it down into a small enough serving to make it edible for both Reg and we laymen in the audience. It’s basically a unifying concept that melds variances of superstring theory together to put out the possibility that our universe is just one of potentially thousands, and these other realities/dimensions are all bundled on top of each other in such a way that energy can pass between the weakened spots where their borders intersect. How does this apply to the movie? It’s never spelled out in big letters for us, but the presumption is that Reggie’s mind or “soul” (or whatever you want to refer to his consciousness as) plays illegal alien and passes between several of these dimensions, inhabiting alternate reality versions of himself (NONE of which have hair and ALL of which saw their careers apex behind the wheel of an ice cream truck) that spend their time fighting the Tall Man, running from him, or just rotting away in a hospital bed.

That’s about the extent to which I’m going to get into the story. Rather than settle on a single plot and map out the trip from point A to point B, we got this multi-reality excuse shoehorned in so Hartman didn’t need to settle on a single story. Even with said safety net setup below him, Hartman still churns out one majorly confused and overly complicated rigmarole of a fable. It’s the proverbial octopus trying to fingerbang a wood block – too many scenarios and nowhere to put ’em. What do you mean you’ve never heard of that proverb? There will be no free rides, no excuses. You already have two strikes against you: your name and your complexion. Because of those two strikes, there are some people in this world who will assume that you know less than you do. “The octopus trying to fingerbang a wood block” is the great equalizer!

Best of luck figuring that one out. Here’s a hint: it’s a callback to earlier in the review. 😉

I’d tell writer Hartman not to quit his day job, but since director Hartman is his day job, I’m going to request he quit both and do something for the betterment of humanity. Like drownee in a charity carnival dunk tank or jizz mopper at the local glory hole.

And what of our cast? Well, Reggie’s still the star of the show. Though his action hero stuff will never be believable, he’s still the best actor of the group. It makes sense why he became the series’s everyman comic relief focal point. Meanwhile, Baldwin and Thornbury seem to have become blander as their parts have become smaller. As for Scrimm? Oh man. Poor Angus. The dearly deceased inter-dimensional undertaker was on his last legs during shooting of his scenes, and it’s impossible not to notice. His face is heavily caked in makeup, his scenes are all smeared with digital haze to try and obscure his raVaged visage, his eyes look tired and the demon of time had long since withered away the Tall Man’s soul searing gaze. He has a handful of scenes with Reggie, where he cryptically refers to their roles in this grand scheme of things, but the poor guy couldn’t muster even an ounce of the terror he gave us in ’98, let alone in ’79. This isn’t how I wanted to remember Angus Scrimm, just like RaVager isn’t how I wanted to remember Phantasm. Uggh. Life is an unending march through the avenues and alleyways of suffering. Such is what happens when you let Pinhead plan your parade route. That guy’s such a prick. *rimshot*

Now, how about the visual effects? Unlike those car wrecks that people are always saying they can’t look away from (morbid fucks), RaVager is a car wreck you should look away from. Not just because doing so is insensitive to the victims, but because one of the drivers is Medusa and the other is Cthulhu, and if you make eye contact with either one, you’re fucked. By that convoluted metaphor, I mean to say that this movie is a visual mess. The digital format it was shot in makes it look like a crap-ass direct-to-video flick you’d find on the “New Releases” wall at Blockbuster 15 years ago. Back before NetFlix and RedBox ruined the video store experience and made the 13 membership cards in my wallet into useless plastic rectangles. You know what else looks like it’s a relic from the ’90s? The CG effects! Holy Helheim. As if I wasn’t having a hard enough time getting through this unadulterated gauntlet of shin-high spanking machines, I finally came across the point where my mind splintered. Not in the way that it physically broke into shards, but more in the way that Mrs. Menard’s eyeball was splintered in Zombie.

The CG is so hard to look at, I’d rather watch a baby put through a punch press. I understand budgetary constraints, but the stuff we get shafted with here was ugly 10 years ago, let alone by 2016 standards. The awkward attempts to splice these outdated digital effects with stock footage of riots and helicopters and skyscraper demolitions are heartbreaking. And it doesn’t stop there. Driving the splinter further into my cerebral cortex? During the climactic final conflict between our heroes and The Tall Man in his hellish home dimension, (a battle so poorly executed that I wish I could go on a three page tirade about it, spoilers be damned!) Mr. Scrimm is replaced by spliced footage of his younger self, awkwardly mugging his eyebrows up for the camera while not moving his lips at all (old test footage, perhaps?), excusing the piss poor paste job by having Tally speak to his opponents WITH HIS MIND… Really?! As if that wasn’t cheesy enough, said footage makes the man monster look flat, while everyone else in the scene clearly has that all important third dimension the bad guy lacks. I’m not a whore for high-grade graphics, I get that nothing will ever look as flawless as Jurassic Park did, but this garbage came close to shoving me into the malicious arms of an anxiety attack.

For Fenris’ sake, you know what RaVager reminds me of, now that I think about it? The way everything is so amateurish? The pitiably developed story? The lazy camera work? The cheap gore? It looks and feels like a fucking FAN FILM! It should’ve been titled Fantasm and sold as bootleg-only DVDs at dirt mall comic stores and hotel horror conventions! It would’ve been the perfect way to excuse Coscarelli not directing it, and it would’ve given the movie a Tower of Pisa level of leniency! I might have actually enjoyed it somewhat if that were how it had been presented! Son of a three-headed bitch! Leave it to me to pan some sliver of gold from a gurgling septic tank.

Why, why, WHY couldn’t David Hartman have been the Hartman killed by his crazy wife in 1998 (the year I’d swear these in-no-way-special effects came from) instead of Phil Hartman!? Phil Hartman brought us all so much joy and inspiration! “Newsradio” was one of my favorite sitcoms! David Hartman brings me nothing but disappointment. A disappointment that I’m sure extends to his family. There’s a Phil Hartman shaped hole in my soul that can never be filled, but there’s a David Hartman shaped hole in a New Jersey landfill that should be!

Okay, that’s a bit much. I shouldn’t be calling for someone’s head just because they exhumed a series better left dead, pissed all over it, then buried it upside down out of disrespect and built a pet shop on top of it. Maybe we should just have Rawhead Rex baptize D-Hart and let that be it. Truth be told, I’m not even a major mark for the Phantasm series. My dad was always a way bigger follower of it than I was. But even as a slightly-more-than-casual observer of the Misadventures of Bomb Pop Reggie and the Brothers Pearson, RaVager is the worst instance of someone disgracing a franchise beloved by others since that video I sent my ex-girlfriend, in which I gave her The Lord of the Rings trilogy DVDs a Cleveland Steamer. That’s what happens when you kidnap one of my Re-Animator t-shirts, EDNA!

I’m just kidding!…partly. Which part? Only the court documents know for sure.

I didn’t cry when I’d heard Angus Scrimm had died, but I cried after RaVager. Wait, did I say I “cried”? I meant I “fell face first down a twenty-story spiral staircase of cinemasochism that left me questioning if there was anything good or decent left in the world”. This abomination should never have happened. I was overcome by the urge to induce vomiting in an effort to evacuate this poison from my system. Sadly, there is no such thing as mental ipecac, so can somebody PLEASE do me a solid and Eternal Sunshine the shit out of me on this one? It can be my Cthulhumas gift for the year!

And there you have it, Phan-boys and Phan-girls. Gobble gobble in agony, because you’re Glenn/Abraham, David Hartman is Negan, and RaVager is Lucille. *SPLAT* I can’t believe I’m typing this, but I think we would’ve received a better movie if Syfy had bought the rights to it and tossed it in The Asylum’s food dish. Uggh, despite standing behind my statement, I feel so dirty for having made it. Look what you made me do, David fucking Hartman!

I’m gonna buck my usual credo and give you a spoiler as far as how one of the alternate realities ends – Reggie dies of some manner of degenerative disease. It’s appropriate too, since this movie doesn’t allow the series to go out with a bang or even peacefully in its sleep. Instead, it rots away with franchise cancer. R.I.P.

And Hartman? As Jon Stewart (the comedian, not the Green Lantern) once said, “You will always be judged by your worst elements”. Consider this your judgment. Welcome to the enemies list.

Moral of the Story: When the only thing standing between you and a pair of Gatling guns is two bad guys, have no fear! As long as you’re the hero(es), you might as well have skin like Luke Cage, because you’re not taking a scratch! Oh, and if your movie calls for digital effects and has a climax that requires extensive green screen work, don’t hire some chumpsteak(s) off of Craigslist to do the job.

Screenshots_____


After-school rush hours get real nasty real quick. That’s why I had to get out of the mobile frozen treats business!


Hey, it’s 1990s Tall Man! And he brought Member Berries with him! Member the old Phantasm movies? Yeah, I member.


“There’s only room for one lovable loser on this cast, and it’s the one holding the gun! Hit the bricks!”


Yeah, this is a pretty accurate representation of how fans feel once RaVager is over.


“So… why the FUCK are we doing this stupid movie again?! Oh, right, the paychecks. Got it.”


“Sorry, old man, but I’m the only female character in this series who doesn’t have some repressed urge to want to bang her grandpa, so keep it your pants.”


Geraldo Rivera reveals to the world, “The Secrets of Charlton Heston’s Trunk”!
(It’s pretty much exactly what you expected)


Hold on a minute! In a previous movie we were shown that the balls are each powered by a human brain. What the fuck is in THAT thing?! Are there several thousand brains all working as a colony, or did Tall Man harvest GODZILLA’s brain!? Stupid stupid movie!


“Good news Reggie! I pulled a few strings and, despite that whole sorted “killed a hooker” thing, I got you into Heaven! Welcome aboard!”


Wow! That little boy’s Negan costume is AMAZING! Way to go, kiddo.


Tally tried to make his global takeover more marketable with limited edition Christmas themed murder balls. ‘Tis the season!


Wow, it finally happened. There’s finally a movie that makes me wish I was watching The Matrix Revolutions. You blew it up! Damn you! Damn you all to Hell!


See kids, this is why Uncle Anubis always tells you to never look directly at a masturbating T-1000. “Save your eyes; don’t look between its thighs!”


Phantasm finally turned into that Vigilante 8 movie adaptation I always wanted!


“Hey folks. Remember me? I was Rocky in Phantasm III. I have no clue why I was brought back to shoot a single scene for this movie, but here I am. Well… bye!”


“Made in America”, eh? You know what else shares that distinction? The KKK, nuclear weapons, and 3 Doors Down! But congrats, RaVager, for proving to us that America is capable of creating something even WORSE than the 2016 election.

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Anubis will return next time in
“Homey Don’t Play That”

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 80 – Dead Rising: Endgame (2016)

or “Not Just Another Zombie Movie (Yes It Is)”

Featuring: Jesse “John Tucker Must Die” Metcalfe , Jessica “iZombie” Harmon , Dennis “The Unit” Haysbert

Director: Pat “Degrassi: the Next Generation” Williams

Writers: Tim “Dead Rising: Watchtower” Carter & Michael “Catwoman” Ferris

Sequel to: Dead Rising: Watchtower

Origin: USA

Review_____

“You’re outta control Chase. Are you a journalist or a vigilante?”

Welcome back, boils and ghouls. ‘Tis I, your humble narrator, thriving on the mundane and bleeding mediocrity as always. The Master of Mating Magnetism himself… keeping in mind that magnets both attract and repel… props to the Sonic commercial I stole that punchline from. Anyway, if I sound a bit disappointed today, it’s because I fell for one of those click bait articles about “SHOCKING CELEBRITY SUICIDES!” that uses a picture of Johnathan Taylor Thomas in the link. I clicked through all 200 pages of that fucking site and JTT wasn’t among them! From now on, I’m checking IMDB before getting my hopes up about forgotten ’90s quasi-celebs murdering themselves. Speaking of shat upon expectations, there were two things I was very much looking forward to experiencing last week: Burger King’s newest lifespan eroder, the Mac & Cheetos, and Crackle’s new original zombie-a-go-go, Dead Rising: Endgame. Of the two, one was moderately satisfying and the other was monstrously disappointing. Here’s a hint about which is which: the following review is for the shit show. Spoilers.

In case you missed my review for last year’s Dead Rising: Watchtower (Episode 47, as seen here), here’s a quick refresher for the sequel. It’s based on the Dead Rising video game series. Each installment of which centers around a different male main character stuck in the middle of a zombie outbreak and forced to survive with an armory of do-it-yourself weapons that combine everyday objects like a sledgehammer and a fire ax, a broadsword and motor oil, a vacuum cleaner and buzz saw blades, and so on and so forth. Watchtower opted not to adapt any of these games, and instead introduced us to a new protagonist named Chase Carter (Jesse Metcalfe). Chase is an investigative reporter (cuz reporters are always chasing stories… get it?… do you get it?… you get it.) for an online-only news outlet that covers all the stories the “lamestream media” won’t, due to the whims of their corporate overlords and being on the short leash of their Wall Street masters and blah blah occupy blah blah blah.

Chase uncovered a conspiracy (as reporters in movies are oft to do), killed some zombies, “Point A? Meet Point B.”, nothing was resolved (gotta set it up for the sequel after all!), roll the credits. If you didn’t watch it and are one of those spoiler-phobic types, you might wanna end your experience here and return the unused portion of this review for a full refund. Being a sequel, major plot points from the previous picture need to be touched upon, and like a doctor giving you a physical, I wanna make said touching as non-awkward for you as possible. Your body is a magical, disgusting pile of nerves that react to stimulation in an aroused fashion independent of your brain sometimes. Don’t be embarrassed. It happens to everyone… please stop masturbating.

Still here? Okay. Let’s continue with the Ballad of Chase Carter… not to be confused with “The Ballad of Chasey Lane”, which is a Bloodhound Gang song that has nothing to do with zombies and everything to do with analingus.

When we last left our venturesome muckraker, he had made a deal with one of the big TV news outlets to provide them with an exclusive story about the behind-the-scenes of a recent undead outbreak, including how it may have actually been caused by Phenotrans – the pharmaceutical company that produces the zombieism sytmying drug Zombrex™ and NOT a Phoenix based social group for trans people with dyslexia. It had something to do with bitten people being implanted with microchips that would track their vitals and release Zombrex™ into their systems as needed to prevent them from turning. Sinister Army man General Lyons (Dennis Haysbert) wanted to weaponize the chips (or something. I don’t remember a whole lot from the first movie, to be fair) and instead used a portion of them to turn their users into the living dead, taking advantage of the resultant panic to manipulate things to his favor somehow… maybe… I don’t know. The end result was the eponymous program “Watchtower”, which instituted mandatory chipping for millions of otherwise uninfected civilians.

As we join our journalistic joy-boy Chase, he has indeed parlayed himself a well paying gig as a World War Z correspondent for UBN (let’s say “Universal Broadcast News”?). While sticking his nose into every hole he can find (dirty dirty dirty) to try and uncover evidence of Lyons’ wrong doings, he’s also trying to track down his former producer Jordan (Keegan Connor Tracy) who went missing at the end of Watchtower. It’s been a pair of calendars since the big outbreak, and despite East Mission City being voted Zombie Digest‘s “Biggest Necropolis of 2016”, the streets aren’t exactly teeming with bite bags. Another unfortunate instance of a low-budget movie bragging about having a 10 inch pocket monster when all they’re packing is a 2 inch pelvic thumb. Denoting your shortcomings beforehand is better than trying to excuse your lies after the fact. Admission over apologizing, people.

Despite his efforts, Chase is story-blocked by his bosses, who don’t need the hassle of a Phenotrans lawsuit or a government sanctioned mass execution to bring down their executive cocaine lunch highs. To continue down his checklist of “movie reporter tropes”, Chase ignores the demands of those-in-charge and continues to meddle in the matters of General Lyons, the Scooby-Doo to his Old Man Withers. Monotoned Army guy’s big scheme continues to revolve around those damn Big Brother chips, only this time he plans to insta-kill a few million people instead of just turning them into ghouls. With just 24 hours to put the ki-bosh on this “Afterlife” contingency, Double C and his elite Channel 6 News Team strike out to bring down Iran Contra II before it turns into September 11th IV. Said crew includes such movie caricatures as “sassy computer hacker girlfriend who owes the hero her life” (Maria Avgeropoulos), “tough talking cool guy that supplies the group with guns, who we first meet playing the video game the movie’s based on before he answers the door in his underwear and a robe” (Patrick Sabongui), “experienced news person who uses their connections to try and take down the evil corporation with the Power of the Press” (Jessica Harmon), “corporate whisteblower who will either turn on the heroes to save their own ass or die proving their dedication to doing what’s right” (Ian Tracey) and “character from the hero’s past who shows up to save them in the nick of time”. You know, all those old “seen it before” chestnuts.

Endgame follows much the same path that Watchtower did in regards to its influence from the games, only this time around the Zombie-Go-Round the marauding rejects from a Mad Max movie are replaced with a scurrilous gang of heroin handling (which is never reasoned why) mercenaries, the wacky interview segments with Dead Rising hero Frank West are dropped in favor of a much less wacky deus ex machina cameo by Dead Rising 2 protagonist Chuck Greene (Victor Webster), the creative engineering of mash-up weapons (all of which look too silly for a serious toned tale) feels tacked on now rather than a fun nod to fans of the games, and the previous flick’s “boss battle” finale is dropped in favor of a pair of dramatic stand-offs – one about two guys waiting for lab test results and the other over a computer virus’ upload progression bar… As the constipated old man said to his Depends, “I shit you not”.

By the time it was over, my faith in Dead Rising as a movie series had expired. Were you here, you would’ve heard the last gasps of hope leave my body via an audible sigh. It was as if the ghost of my own enjoyment had been exorcised by an ordained priest from the Church of Mediocrity. Though some would praise Endgame‘s eschewing of its comedic roots in favor of a more dire tone, I say thee nay. If I wanted my made-for-TV ghoulocausts to be low-budget bowls of freezer-burnt vanilla ice cream, I wouldn’t have relieved myself all over Rise of the Zombies way back in episode 6! No, I want my Dead Rising ice cream to be filled with sprinkles and gummi worms and little chocolate zombies, damn it! I said it when Michael Bay prison sexed the Ninja Turtles and I’ll say it again – if you’re just going to ignore 90% of the source material and do your own “in name only” thing, spare the fans your lazy cash-in and just call it something else! Then again, when one of your writers was responsible for the crime against geek humanity that is Catwoman, I should’ve known what I was setting myself up for, right? No. That’s victim blaming, you asshole. Fuck you.

On the good side of things, Billy Zane himself shows up for a payday as a not-quite-mad-but-definitely-morally-spotty scientist! Not-so-good? His role has him onscreen for all of 5-10 minutes and lacks the Zane zaniness of something like his turn in Demon Knight that I was hoping to get when I saw him mentioned in the opening creds. On a less lackluster positive note, though, I have to admit that what action pieces we get are generally better put together than what we got in Watchtower. Chief among them for me being a Chase chase (wakka wakka!) sequence where he tries to escape the dead menace amid a series of escalators and an interestingly shot fight between the hero and some zombos in an operating room that shoots for what I can only describe as “tethered filming”.

So, all said and done, Endgame isn’t all bad. Generic, sure, but not a totally wasted 90 minutes of wear and tear on the eyeballs. It doesn’t leave me looking forward to the purported TV series that Crackle has in the works, but as a stand alone zombie movie, I’ve seen worse. Far worse. Skin-peelingly bad “I’d rather jam toothpicks under my toe nails than watch another minute of this” worse. Toe suckingly terrible stuff, folks. Seriously.

As previously noted, the biggest problem with the movie is making it 100% serious while still keeping the “Dead Rising” moniker. It’s tantamount to taking a charismatic, over-the-top madman like Jesse Ventura and casting him as a cookie-cutter, potatoes-without-the-meat, bland as raw tofu, good guy. How do you make an intergalactic space cop played by one of professional wrestling’s greatest a-holes a walking, talking sleeping pill? Abraxas. How do you suck all of the fun out of Dead Rising‘s wholesale zombie murdering and DIY death dealers? Endgame.

Hey, I wonder why they named the first movie after Lyons’ plan (“Watchtower”), but didn’t do the same with the sequel? “Afterlife” would’ve made for a better title, especially given that this clearly isn’t the series’ “endgame”, what with the TV show planned. Just junk food for thought.

Since it’s a Crackle exclusive, if you want to check out Endgame (or Watchtower for that matter) you can do so for free on the Crackle app for your phone, tablet, gaming console, or TV streaming device of choice. Of course, you’ll have to sit through a shitload of commercials for that privilege, but nothing is truly free… unless you download it from a torrent site. Technology, you sex us so good!

Oh, and despite not making Mac & Cheetos wretched fried tripe, BK isn’t off the hook! One time they sold me onion rings and didn’t give me the designated sauce that goes with it. Onion rings without onion ring sauce is as much a crime as a Dead Rising sequel without Rob Riggle’s Frank West. And I was told this was the land of liberty. Oh the unabashed verisimilitude. Not cool, guys. Not cool.

Moral of the Story: At least I still have Dead Rising 4 to look forward to this year! Yay video games!

Screenshots_____


Those sadists in the Jackass crew have run out of wacky ideas and are just straight up mutilating themselves now.


I see someone never figured out how to turn the on-screen display off on their camera…


“Damn, baby! You looked a hell of a lot better last night when I had my Jack Daniels goggles on!”


She’s Selena Gomez-ing.


Dennis Haysbert parodying the McConaughey Lincoln commercials? You’re a few years late to the party, Allstate.


Hey, movie. You’re not endearing me to you any more so by showing me what I could be playing instead of watching you. Stop it.


“You mind if we stop by my dealer’s place real quick on the way to the airport? I’ve been itching for a fucking hit since lunch and I just can’t drive straight when I’m, well, straight! Oh, and can you give me a 5 star rating on Uber? It hasn’t been a good week.”


“Thanks for meeting me in secret… here in this public place… out in the open… during the day… You’ve never done corporate espionage work before, have you?”


A human pinata! THAT’s what I want for my birthday next year!


“My custom weapons are NOT stupid looking and cumbersome! They’re friggin’ AWESOME! You’re gonna owe me so many Mac & Cheetos when you see how right I am and these save your dumb life!”


For those cold footed husband-to-be out there hoping the zombie apocalypse will be a good enough reason to cancel your marriage? She will find you. And eat you.


“What are you two doing?! Do you have a permit to film here?! Fuck off before I call the cops!”


“So you’re not going with a crazy, over-the-top tone with this one? You just want me to play my role straight? Okay… you have until my bank clears the check, then I’m out of here.”


Hey kids, remember Hackers? Remember how cool it is to watch a fucking progress bar for 10 minutes?! Have we got a movie for you!


“Chuck? I know your cameo is completely superfluous and all, but could you have at least worn your bright yellow motocross jacket so the gamers could have had some kind of fan service?!”

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Anubis will return next time in
“What Do You Call 8 Teens At Crystal Lake?”

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 73 [Rerun] – Puppet Master Vs. Demonic Toys (2004)

or “Toys in Babeland”

Featuring: Corey “The Lost Boys” Feldman , Vanessa “Kingpin” Angel , Danielle “Darkening Skies” Keaton

Director: Ted “Subspecies” Nicolaou

Writer: Courtney “Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge” Joyner

Origin: USA

Review_____

“We’re finished playing now. Time to put our toys away.”

[Note from Anubis: This review was originally planned for posting on December 25th. Unfortunately, due to technical problems (I couldn’t find my DVD and the only person on the entire internet who still seeded the torrent was offline for a few days) I was not able to make said deadline. Boo-fucking-hoo. The opinions presented here aren’t olive loaf – they’re just as good (or bad) post-expiration! Now, please to enjoy our episode. Won’t you?]

Intro: So The Force Awakens opened last week to staggering box office numbers, bringing love and empathy to all mankind and blah blah blah. The Evil Dead Bride and yours truly have yet to partake in the hoopla just yet, because we’re waiting for the crowds to die down a little first. We both hate people as a general statement, so being surrounded by the squirming masses in cramped seating arrangements always brings with it the very real threat that said crowds will just have to die, period. Besides, there will never be a scene from a galaxy far far away better than when we got to watch Hayden Christensen burned alive, so what’s the rush? Oh, and Merry Cthulhumas!

I needed a bit of yuletide “inspiration” to get my “creative juices” flowing for this one, so I’ve been drinking nothing but eggnog spiked with Captain Morgan for the last 24 hours. It’s how we do a “cleanse” in my family. I better be careful or I’ll burn through my allotted “air quotes” for the review before we even get this donkey show out of the opening act!

For the first time in almost 40 years, there was a Full Moon on Cthulhumas (or “Cthuyule” if you’re a traditionalist). It’s the last such holiday lunar alignment for another 20 years. Since I imagine myself joining the choir invisible before that happens, what more reason did I need to do a review for a seasonally thematic Full Moon movie!?… except that this isn’t a Full Moon release.

In the “unspoken of times” where Full Moon was inactive and Charles Band was operating under his “Shadow Entertainment” banner (probably while he was dodging extradition to Romania to answer for unpaid castle rental contracts), and when SyFy was still known as The Sci-Fi Channel, someone had the bright idea to lease the rights to the Puppets and the Toys for the crossover that bad movie lovers had been clamoring for since the ’90s. Band was given an honorary “Executive Producer” credit, but he makes it a point to tell anyone who will listen that he had zero to do with the movie itself. Having watched it again for the first time in years, I don’t blame him! He’s subjected us to some truly heinous b-movie anus in his extensive time as a cinesadist, but when even Charles Band won’t take any credit offered him for a flick, you know that’s not a worm in the bottom of the proverbial tequila bottle, it’s a fucking Ceti eel. Khhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannn!


(Uh-oh. That’s not good.)

Without further ado, take it away, Ghost of Anubis Past!

Original Review: Man, I’ve been waiting for this moment for… hmmm… let me think… carry the two… adjust for leap years… uhm… shit, it’s been at least 7 or 8 years! Moreover, the concept for this beast has been around since it was originally going to be Puppet Master IV, which was released in 1993!… you know, before it became yet another “not really the last movie of the series, but we’ll call it the ‘Final Chapter’ anyway” flicks and turned into, in the words of John Cleese, “something completely different”.


(Oh what could have been…)

In fact, it took so much effort to get this bitch into heat that the birth father of both floundering franchises (i.e. Full Moon Pictures) wasn’t even responsible for the movie’s release! Nope, those ever-lovin’ bad movie bastards at the Sci-Fi Channel and Anchor Bay released it instead after its debut as a “Saturday Night Sci-Fi Channel Originals” movie, whose victims already include Bruce Campbell, Jeffrey Combs and the Return of the Living Dead flicks. So, though this stands as an evil omen from the darkest depths of the Cinemasochist Inferno, at least the Puppet Master and Demonic Toys titles have both been promoted to a level apart from stuff like Gingerdead ManThough I’m sure it’s going to be more of a horizontal relocation rather than some kind of glorious, money-out-the-butt-in-the-religious-sense ascension for Andre Toulon and his brood of handmade killers.

But let’s not drown too deep in the fret just yet, friends. The flick is directed by Ted “Subspecies” Nicolaou (what, was David DeCoteau too busy making more shitty vampire frat movies?!), so let us instead embrace the potential and see what kind of epic shit-eating tortures these last 13 years have wasted time and resources creating!

The sad part is that I’m actually so excited for this moment that I’m watching this at 2 a.m. on my laptop, which tends to emit a loud and terrible hum when I play DVDs on it. I had a long and painful day of failures and physical labor and up until an hour ago I was welcoming sleep like Tom Hanks welcoming an AIDS infected pecker in his pooper a la Philadelphia. But now I’m all eyes, ears and fingers for this nightmarish little play-by-play. Come on people, it’s a brand new DVD and it only cost me $8!? I haven’t been this excited since I found out there was a sequel to Rock ‘N’ Roll Nightmare!

Andre Toulon is no longer an elderly puppeteer with designs of vengeance toward the servants of Adolf “Captain Moustache” Hitler and the Third Reich. Gone are the days when Guy Rolfe would send wooden toys imbued with the essence of his dead friends to hack, slash, mutilate and smash those whose turn-ons include goose-stepping, long marches on the beach and the smell of freshly baked Hasidics. No longer does a young prodigy set his miniature do-gooder toys to do battle with foot tall totem demons and giant muppets with scrotum for mouths. No, instead we now have Robert Toulon, great grand-nephew of Andre, who’s bitter because the capitalist swine at Sharpe Toys have rejected him and his screwball ideas for “living” toys.

Well, that or he’s just pissy because he’s Corey Feldman, who is therefore a complete and utter joke in the footnotes of b-Hollywood to whom very few people would tag the prefix of “great” or “grand” with any level of serious admiration.

Bob’s your typical kooky inventor type: harmless for the most part, with little more than some smoke and bad smells to show for his work. If he didn’t hiss and grimace so much, you’d half expect him to shrink down some neighborhood kids and spend 2 hours trying to fix ’em while many a wacky hijink ensued. Then he’d come back for a couple of fuck-awful sequels and endanger the lives of several more kids before being burned alive in a boiler by the unhappy members of the PTA. Speaking of kids, this guy Robert somehow has custody of his daughter Alexandra (Danielle Keaton), with whom he re-enacts the life giving experiments of Great Uncle Andre thanks to a journal (that was no doubt illustrated by an eight-year-old…missing several fingers…that probably resulted in him/her drawing some fucked up looking turkeys at Thanksgiving) and several familiar looking tiny killers discovered in a flea market.

Speaking of the father-daughter relationship, it’s kinda creepy the whole time I’m watching this because Corey Feldman, no matter how many gray streaks he puts in his hair or how much beard scruff he tries to grow, will always look like he’s 16. The idea of him having a teenage daughter just looks unsettling. Let’s just hope “The Feld” is lucky enough to look this young when he’s pissing in a bag and eating food in a primordial ooze state.

Meanwhile, Sharpe Toys presidente Erica Sharpe (Vanessa Angel, who’s showing every day of age since Kingpin last played a multiplex, made all the worse since her lips look like an inflamed anus now) spies on Bobbie’s work via hidden ladybug spy camera while she sips sparkling cider with her “is she fucking that guy, or is he gay?” assistant Julian. Who may or may not be played by one of those hitmen with the ear-raping accents from Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave. (Note: after checking IMDB it turns out I was wrong on that assumption, though he has had small parts in shit like Hammerhead: Shark Frenzy, Shark Attack 3: Megalodon, and other non-shark related crap Sci-Fi Channel projects).

Sure enough, not only do Bob and Al do in five minutes what the Nazis and Kandarian demons couldn’t do over the course of 8 movies, but they get it right on the first try, as the puppets are resurrected on a diet of Kool-Aid™ infused with Toulon blood. :::Anubis proceeds to smash through a wall, wielding a pitcher of dyed sugar water laced with LSD::: OH YEAH!

No sooner are Jester, Pinhead, Blade and Six-Shooter back to working order than my Kool-Aid™ smile takes a NesTea™ plunge down the proverbial shit pipe…only in this case it’s literal. The puppet models being used here are by far the worst to date. Much like the rationale used on Pamela Vorhees’ baby (freak monkey murderer) boy for Freddy Vs. Jason, you can tell the diseased minds behind PMvDT wanted to make the Puppets the heroes of the flick, so they changed their appearances to try and invoke a better comfort level with the audience (or lack thereof). The result? Jester and Six-Shooter no longer look like a child molesting clown and drunken rapist cowboy respectively, but instead like “empathetic harlequin” and “child friendly old west kids show host” types that make me ill. Additionally, Pinhead looks like he’s been sucked into the Hollywood scene since his last movie appearance, slimming down immensely to a sickly, heroined out, Olsen Twins-esque look! He’s the fucking Kate Moss of the animated death toy crowd and it’s pathetic! He doesn’t even have that squinty-eyes Popeye quality to his face anymore. Instead, he looks like an anorexic old queen in a shitty brown sweater he knitted for himself! Seriously, I think Feldman would’ve been better complimented if he was acting opposite 90 minutes of badly edited stock footage than what these half-assed action figures are going to give us.

Anyway, it’s Christmas time and Sharpe Toys needs that one thing to put their manufactured plastic crap above everyone else’s manufactured plastic crap, so Erica sends her henchman and some hired goons to Bob’s “Puppet Hospital” (I shit you not) to do a little corporate raiding and acquire her some hot, wet puppet action. In standard fashion, the puppets defend themselves, a ruckus breaks out, Bob gets socked in the shnoz by an FDA approved goober with a fucking dollar sign tattooed on the back of his hand (see now, if Gene Simmons had achieved his lifelong dream of trademarking the dollar sign, he would’ve made $0.03 off of this purchase!), Six-Shooter accidentally sets the place on fire and he and his compadres get their stupid new plastic faces melted off. To which the puppets react as if there was somebody holding them by the leg and simply flailing them around…wonder why that is.

And with that, it’s time to introduce the other half of the titular equation as, back at the Sharpe offices, Ms. Sharpe introduces (i.e. sacrifices the cleavage of) her virginal Christian Youth receptionist (I swear this chick waited on me at Uno’s last night) to her “Board of Directors”, better known to followers of the Church of Chuck (Band) as Baby Oopsy Daisy, Grizzly Teddy, and Jack Attack (a.k.a. Jack-Out-of-the-Box. Which is a “pulling out” innuendo if I’ve ever heard one). Once again, I have to state-the-hate on these new character models. For the most part Teddy doesn’t seem all that different, and well, I think I actually like this new Baby Oopsy better. But as far as Jack goes, he looks like shit! I don’t know if they were aiming for some kind of Pennywise take on the fanged box occupier, but whatever the reason it’s COMPLETELY WRONG. The original Jack’s design was the star of the Demonic Toys movies and unless the Killer Klowns people were threatening legal action, there was NO reason not to have stuck with it. Blegh.

Back to our story (I guess that’s what you’d call it, right?), it looks like Erica has made a pact with the demon Bael (who forgot to take off his “orc mercenary” costume following his earlier Everquest™ cos-play meeting) to bring Hell to Earth by distributing 9 million Sharpe toys to homes around the world, all of which are to be brought to murderous life on Christmas Day following the shedding of the final drops of Toulon blood. It’s almost Christmas Eve and ‘Ric’s done her part, spreading the viral Cabbage Patch Creatures™ across the country. Will the greed demon be able to put the little beasts into blood-letting action, or will Bob and Al save the day with their new line of “burn unit victim” Puppet Master action figures? It’s a rhetorical question kids, we all know how this is going to end. And yes, I know that’s not what rhetorical means, I was just waiting to see if you caught on or not.

While Bob and Al prepare for their miniature war with the unholy playthings, a female cop gets involved because Corey Feldman needs someone to stumble over and sweat in front of. The puppets get “cyber upgrades” that include a plastic knife and hook for Blade, pillow biting smashing thunder ball fists for Queenie Pinhead, a can crushing mace arm for Jester, and an array of plastic gun arms for Six-Shooter that somehow shoot lasers, because plastics are apparently well known for their abilities to generate intense beams of light and heat.

The good guys get caught “unawares” (to be more specific, while Bob’s christening the S.S. Porcelain Bowl), leaving them and the puppets at the mercy of the upstanding staff at Sharpe Corporation. Vanessa Angel puts on an outfit that would’ve looked a lot better on those legs when she had legs to speak of, and Al’s to be used as the blood sacrifice for Bael’s big global conquest thing. Finally, after over an hour of waiting for it, the title bout (literally) goes into effect and the heroes break free. As the norms around them shoot at each other (and Bael cavorts around in a Santa outfit while the countdown to Judgment Day continues), the puppets and toys trade blows. Blade (along with his very obvious plastic knife and hook) hacks the stuffing out of Teddy and liberates his huggable head, Pinhead squishes Oopsy’s head into a geyser of goo (following one-too-many Oopsy ass blaster joke attacks), while Jester and Six-Shooter make short work of Jack. This all happens in less time than it takes to cook minute rice. The goodies save the day, no Toulon blood is spilled, the great Christmas Holocaust is prevented, Bael takes Erica back to Hell with him as part of their agreement, and Al and Bob have holiday feastings with Bob’s new would-be cop girlfriend.

Whoop-di-shit. I waited over a decade for that?! Fuck! I didn’t have a whole lot of faith that this was going to go anywhere, but I didn’t think these guys would forget the whole point of the movie! You take a movie called Puppet Master Vs. Demonic Toys and you spend 80 minutes pitting the two sides against disposable human fodder while the two C and D-list actors you get for the lead roles hog the screen time, only to climax with a limp-dicked, one-sided conflict of Custer’s Last Stand proportions?! Maybe if I were into anal intrusions I’d love this movie, but as it stands I’m against getting dicked around, especially in a 90 minute marathon of it! At least Dollman Vs. Demonic Toys lived up to its name. And even then managed to fit in all it had to in just a little over an hour! Unlike this fucking waste of time.

As far as the acting I concerned, was Corey Feldman intentionally performing so over-the-top as a sign that he wasn’t taking the role seriously, or is he really so misguided in the thespian arts as to think he wasn’t making a total ass-hat out of himself? I’m sure it’s the latter, but I’m hoping it’s the former for the Feld’s sake. Vanessa Angel’s never been a good actress and the fact that she’s lost 70% of her sex appeal only throws this fact into our movie watching faces all the harder. Everyone else was pretty much by the books (those of course being the “How to Act But Not Get Noticed for Doing So” series) with the glaring exception of Sylvia Suvadova. Sylvia played the part of the Feld’s law enforcing would-be girlfriend, with the major difference being that of ALL OF HER LINES WERE RE-DUBBED. Does she have a horrible, ear drum grinder of an accent that the producers felt needed to be “redacted” from the film? Or, could it be that her actual acting is so bad that it couldn’t even work with the rest of this bowel obstruction? Inquiring minds want to know! Well, my slightly interested minor curiosity is kinda interested in a short and simple answer.

As you can tell from the numerous bitches and complaints dropped elsewhere as my recipe for hate called for them, the special effects ingredients involved were a good use for a dollar store budget, but otherwise a slap in the face to the series, especially following the otherwise groovy efforts of the first three films. Granted, they didn’t go for the cheap fuck like other recent entries by relying on the same stop-action stock footage born of Toulon’s Revenge, but I’m starting to think I’d rather watch those for a 12th time as opposed to the high school jerk around we got instead.

While I’m ‘picking here, the title graphic is terrible too. Look at it! Why has the classic Puppet Master logo been replaced by toy alphabet blocks?! Though I understand the use of the flaming logo for the latter half of this “Rumble in the Toy Box” title, I always liked the alphabet blocks look for the original Demonic Toys logo design (Note from 2015 Anubis: that wasn’t Demonic Toys, it was Dolly Dearest you dipshit), considering they’re toys and alphabet blocks are toys and… fuck it, nobody’s even listening at this point. The movie’s shite and every fiber of my being is nagging at me to go get my eight bucks back. Guess I should go do that now before all this talking to myself gets me another run at Arkham…

Disengaging Complaint Drive Warp Engine™… now!

Xtro: Uggh. That hurt. Like 50 lashes with a wet string of icicle lights. I forgot how genuinely wretched this movie is. For my original review, I gave PMvDT (huh huh, “VD”) 2 ½ stars. Not out of 10, but out of 5. FIVE! What the fucking fuck was I on!? This is a 90 minute shave with a razor made of broken glass covered in salt and ghost pepper sauce! I feel my anger and disgust have been blunted over the years too, so I must’ve been suffering some kind of horrendous personal agony in my life at the time to have crawled through this level of effluvial grime with a “meh” numeric attitude rather than the revulsion I got from watching it this week. Hey, Past Self? Don’t worry. Whatever Hel you were being dragged through by your armpit hairs back then, you get beyond it and realize just how incompetently assembled this Chinese unicycle truly is.

To add some extra torque to this self-inflicted yuletide titty-twister, it turns out that the only copy of the movie I was able to acquire on such notice also happens to be dubbed over in Russian…as spoken by a single, monotone guy. Yep, all of the lines, including those by female actors, are read by a bland-as-non-fermented potato water dude who may or may not have been very tired while doing so. I listened as well as I could for any instances of yawning, but found none. Anyway, the original English track was just audible enough that I could still follow along with the movie, but in all honesty, the cast’s performances are so “just paying my electric bill” quality that they’re barely worth the effort anyway. Watching Feldman run from Oopsy in one scene is hilarious though. His little jog is silly and not at all a pace I’d be comfortable at limiting myself to were I trying to outrun a homicidal doll that really wets itself! Feld’s raspy “fake old man voice” isn’t funny though, it’s distracting. And not in a good way that it would actually distract us from the thrift store production values of this moving picture calamity.

Everything is cheap in this movie. Everything. Even compared to the lesser Puppet Master movies. Even by TV movie standards. The sets are small and populated with props that even Ed Wood would look at and say “I think we can do better”. Roger Corman, Hal Needham, and Burt I. Gordon would watch this withered little pickle of a flick to boost their confidence in their own productions. Seriously, where did the reported $2.5million budget go for this fucking movie? To cover some Sci-Fi Channel exec’s mob debts!? The cheap plastic and foam rubber used to make these WOODEN puppets are an ipecac for my eyeballs. Pinhead looks like he Face/Off‘ed with Bea Arthur at some point, then was stricken with savagely aggressive puppet cancer! Blade’s supposedly deadly sharp appendages look about as metal as the toy army knives you get from Dollar Embargo, and only about half as dangerous too. Same goes for Jester’s “spiked mace hand” and Six-Shooter’s laser gun arms and “cyber” facial appliance (all of which I’m almost positive were made using salvaged pieces from an off-market Transformers lot picked up on eBay). The Demonic Toys aren’t as cheap and ugly, put I’m still put off by Jack’s facial redesign, and I don’t know what Past Anubis was thinking, but I definitely prefer Baby Oopsy’s original cold black shark eyes to what his peepers appear like here. Oh well, at least none of the Toys had goofy Terminator shit glued to ’em, so they’re automatically the better looking of the titular playthings by a Mongo mile.

But even the lowest of budgets can be overcome by a talented cast and a gripping story, right?! Since we already established that the “talented cast” part isn’t happening, how about that gripping story? Drop one of those ‘p’s, because there’s a piss and moan storm on the horizon. Since Courtney Joyner brought us Puppet Master III, the pinnacle of the PM legacy (not to be confused with the literal Puppet Master Legacy, which roams the sewers of the series like a C.H.U.D. with a crayon lodged in its frontal lobe), I had some hope for this movie. Not a lot, but enough that it wouldn’t give my Full Moon fanboyism anal leakage. Clearly, I should’ve downed a brick of cheddar with an Imodium chaser before watching. I guess I’ll never learn.

This is the kind of story that makes me want to swat Mr. Joyner with my ring hand and practice my acupuncture on the backs of his knees with splintered chopsticks. Andre Toulon’s great-grandnephew couldn’t have received his family’s infamous legacy via some kind of inheritance? Instead he finds them by chance through a flea market. A fucking flea market?! Fuck your flea market. And why does Erica Sharpe’s modern toy factory have a medieval dungeon in its basement?! Does demonic summoning magic (as done with a high-tech modernized version of an iron maiden) require stone block walls and big rusty chains around to perform? Was the factory built over the remains of a castle and they optioned to just use the original basement for the foundation?! Fuck your foundation. While we’re on it, Sharpe’s cadre of minions have a big evil sigil to identify each other by. Erica and her sidekick wear theirs in the form of pendants adorning their necks, which is fine, but her hired muscle bear theirs as big ol’ tattoos prominently displayed across the back of their hands! Shouldn’t you keep the calling sign of your secret cult, I don’t know, somewhere more secret?! Fuck your tatoos.

I’ve got a few dozen chunks of fruitcake fighting their way through my digestive tract like space marines through a nest of Xenomorphs, so just a couple more points of contention to contend before I (s)hit the bricks. Near the end of the movie, as Alex is trapped in Erica’s needlessly elaborate iron maiden (whose only purpose is to puncture victims and collect their blood in a plodding, gore hiding fashion), she does that doofy thing where a character narrates what’s happening to them, since shooting it would seemingly flatline this already anemic budget. Her half-hearted screams of “Dad! The spikes are starting to move!”, “Dad, the spikes are getting closer! You have to save me!”, and “Ow! Dad! The spikes are poking me!” are equal portions unintentional hilarity and teeth-gritting aggravation.

My last (and by no means least) gripe comes down to the eponymous exchange itself. The offensively cheap DVD box art promises us a “rumble”, and what we get instead is toenails in our chili that are most assuredly not hard-shelled peppercorns (http://www.videodetective.com/movies/texas-chainsaw-massacre-2-scene-family-recipe/472419)! On one side, we’ve got four killer puppets with silly albeit dangerous weapon upgrades, including one who wields six functional LASER GUN ARMS. Meanwhile, on the opposing side we’ve got a teddy bear with sharp teeth, a screaming jack-in-the-box also with sharp teeth, and a baby whose sole offensive abilities are propulsive farts and a douchey demeanor. The Toys are trying to ride a seesaw with the McGuire Twins on the other end, and their short-lived losing effort proves it. As if this weren’t already some of the most disappointing metaphorical build-up sex I’ve ever had with a movie I was looking forward to, the 80 minutes of clumsy foreplay leads to 4 minutes of uncomfortable intercourse, premature ejaculation, and 5 minutes of post-coital crying and apologizing before the viewer takes the walk of shame and wonders why they have such little self-esteem that they keep hooking up with such obvious losers. Happy fuckin’ New Year.

Speaking of embarrassing myself, before I go I’d like to take a moment to apologize to everyone for Past Anubis’ unacceptable mistreatment of Vanessa Angel over her looks during my original review. Reading that was like watching The Monster Squad and seeing kids throw around the term “faggot”. It’s not right. I’d call myself a fuck-o to my face if I had a time slide right now, but I’m no Time Angel, so that’s not an option. (Editor’s Note: Anubis is a fuck-o sometimes. I’ve informed him of this, now we can all move on. Bully to him for admitting his fuck-o-ness, apologizing for it and trying to be better moving forward.)

Here’s to wishing you all the best (of the Best) in these final days of 2015. Mine clearly ended face down in a puddle of pig vomit, but here’s to hoping that 2016 (and the continuation of the World Tour de Farce) brings us all something worth smiling about and a little less worth hanging ourselves naked in a sleazy motel closet about. Peace on Earth and Boyz II Men.

¡Arriba!

Moral of the Story: High frequency sonic blasts will make your eyeballs pop out of your head. You’d think it would burst your eardrums instead, but nope, it’s all eyeball popping. Oh, and if you try to hack someone’s computer network, beware: their firewall can apparently blow up your computer. I’m not talking a simple bricking, I mean full-on sparks and ignition. You’ve been warned.

Screenshots_____

“You have been convicted of high crimes against our glorious magistrate! For that, you shall all be crucified until dead! Pray to your plastic gods now, for they will be the last words you ever speak!”


“Damn it mom, stop swindling the neighbors! Damn it Rose, stop being such a stupid bumpkin! Damn it Blanche, stop being such a slut! DOROTHY SMASH!”


“But how do I know this is the actual syringe Barry Bonds juiced with before his record breaking homerun? Do you have a certificate of authenticity or a picture of him using it?”


Free advice: if you’re in an elevator with two people wearing the same type of evil looking pendant and one/both of them are clutching theirs while grinning sinisterly, you’re about 10 minutes away from being the subject of a secret society’s human sacrifice.


That’s why no one ever tried to come between Corey Haim and his nose candy.


“And who’s she supposed to be?! Between that dress pattern and the weird collar she looks like some kinda fairy queen of Christmas presents! I’ll be here all week! Remember to tip your waiter!”


We have top men working on Corey Feldman right now. Top… men.


This summer, he’s back in the slammer and back undercover! Marlon Wayans brings us the long-awaited mash-up sequel to two of his greatest film epics in Little White Chick Man!


“We told you SyFy bastards what would happen if we caught you shooting another one of your shitty movies down here!”


“I’m telling you you’ve got the wrong guy! I’m not Charlie Sheen!”


Though it never made it past pre-production, a handful of prototype action figures were made for the ill-fated Blazing Saddles 2099 reboot.


“Well… I guess I’ll just have to learn to masturbate with my left hand now.”


Well, I wanted Joanna Angel for Xmas, but I’ll settle for Vanessa Angel. Don’t wanna seem ungrateful, right?


This is why you never have your office Christmas parties anywhere within walking distance of a tattoo parlor. You don’t wanna see where their assistant manager got his.


“LIKE A RAINBOW IN THE DAAAAAAAAAAAAARK!”


He died doing what he loved: attending King Diamond concerts in a business suit and corpse paint. God speed, executive metalhead.


“NO! I don’t care what the contract says! You can’t make me do another Lost Boys sequel! IT’S INHUMAN!”


That’s an oddly specific time stamp for a movie…


Damn it, Bael! If you’re not gonna wear the Santa beard properly, don’t wear it at all! Fucking hack!


Pinhead is disturbingly serious about taking his Kanchō game to the next level. I didn’t realize he was made in Japan.


Johnson & Johnson had to scrap their proposed new No More Tears Green Apple Baby Shampoo dispenser when several mothers in the focus group fainted and one had to be institutionalized.


“Don’t think I didn’t know it was you stealing the crunchy boxers out of my underwear hamper, Jester! We all know the weird shit you’re into! Give ’em back!”

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Anubis will return next time in
“Monkey Shines”

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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)”

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