Feature 83 – Sinister Squad (2016)

or “#SquadHoles”

Featuring: Johnny “’Palisades Justice‘” Diaz , Christina “The Treehouse” Licciardi , Nick “Laid to Rest” Principe

Director & Writer: Jeremy “Avengers Grimm” Inman

Origin: USA

Sequel to: Avengers Grimm

Review_____

“Sense is a rather senseless sentiment with so much senselessness afoot.”

The summer trudge through the bodily secretion trail of tears has still not let up, but I’ll spare you the trial of enduring a third diatribe where I bitch about the heat. I will say this though – you could bottle my underarm perspiration and weaponize it as an environmentally friendly alternative to mustard gas. That, or sell it as a Designer Impostors for Burger King onion rings. Speaking of heat, I’m convinced that my microwave is haunted by popcorn hating ghosts. Whether it’s Colonel’s Kernels, The Buck-an-Ear Buccaneer, or Maze of Maize, every time I try to nuke a bag of black lung inducing goodness the damn things come out scorched worse than Freddy Krueger at a Pyromaniacs For Snuffing Out Child Abuse fundraiser! Speaking of things that hate other things, I clearly hate myself more than Michael Bay hates ’80s pop culture, because here I am once again (by choice!) back within the padded walls of The Asylum. Those dickardly dingleberries who frequently infect the world with the worst knockbusters (knock-offs of blockbusters) this side of E.T. Eddie Torres the Extra-Testicle.

I could just be like everybody and their second cousin reviewing the first season of “Stranger Things” right now (It’s great, but I’m still disappointed that my theory on the Demogorgon becoming Slenderman at the end was wrong), but here I am bitching about The Asylum again like it’s the fucking running joke of my amateur movie griping career. Fuck it. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger… or just saddles us with PTSD until we drive all of our friends away and eventually David Carradine ourselves in the closet of a La Quinta Inn suite. I’ll never forgive you La Quinta motherfuckers for turning my old site address into a redirect for your homepage! May you all die of fatal rectal trauma via forced bowling ball insertion.

Not to be confused with Monster Squad, SuperHero Squad, Gangster Squad, “Mod Squad”, “Odd Squad”, “God Squad”, the other God Squad (there’s an obscure one for you Marvel readers!), Squadron Sinister, nor a group of willennials who get together every Saturday night to live-tweet viewings of the Sinister movies and do so under the hashtag “SinisterSquad”, what today’s movie is is The Asylum’s answer to the summer super-villain team-up blockbuster release, Suicide Squad. The Asy’ crew screws the Poochie on this one, and rather than combining a patchwork posse of the pantheon of half-assed knock-off villains they’ve populated their stupid little cinematic universe with, go for the easy way out and just toss together a group of public property fairytale fuckers instead. If Suicide Squad and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen pulled a bareback train on a Wiki of fairy tales and fables, this would be the bastard end product. Well, it works for “Grimm”, “Once Upon a Time” and “Sleepy Hollow” on TV, and it worked for 150 issues of DC’s “Fables” series (plus all of the spin-off stuff I’m sure as shit NOT counting out for the sake of completion in a review that nobody’s going to read anyway!), so why not?

‘Less Than Zero’ isn’t just a Bret Easton Ellis book I couldn’t bring myself to read more than the first 30 pages of, it’s also the amount of introductory exposition we’re given before being dropped face first into the fray that is our feature. Fortunately, this isn’t just a lazy round of Figure It Out for Yourself™ (by Parker Brothers!) and we’re filled in on the backstory as the frontstory progresses, but for the sake of simplicity I’ll give you a spoiler-free(ish) chimpan-A to chimpan-Z adaptation. RE-RE-RE-REMIIIIIIIX!

It all began in the magical dimension from which all fairy tales and fables originated. Call it Neverland, call it Grimm World, call it Dimension F (for “Fables”), call it whatever puts plums in your Christmas pie, Horner. Known by his peers as one of those guys who can get anything for the right price, infamous imp Rumpelstiltskin was hired by Death (yes, that Death) to acquire “the magic mirror” (presumably the one belonging to Snow White’s murderously jealous stepmom, Queen Grimhilde), which would allow the Reaper the ability to instant transmission his bony backside from The Underworld (a third realm all its own) to Earth and fulfill his despotic ambition to overtake our dimension. Death is sold to us as a Faustian figure (with Kung-Fu GRIP!), offering up earthly delights to his marks in exchange for their immortal souls being added to the Underworld census, so we can make an “ass” out of “u” and “me” that his realm is basically Hell… though we’re never given a Heaven-like counter-dimension to provide context, so I guess Underworld is where everybody goes when they die, whatever their moral alignment… so why would Death need to barter for souls if everybody winds up there sooner or later anyway?! Come on, Inman. You couldn’t take 5 minutes to slip in a reference to some manner of Nirvana to make more sense of this? Blart.

For no real reason beyond being a major asshole (like, “prolapsed colon” major), Rumpledforeskin broke the arcane artifact so Death couldn’t have it, shattering the barrier between their world and ours in the process. Now an undetermined population of these imaginary heroes and villains and ancillary personas exist in the world that gave us atomic weapons, Johnny Mnemonic, and The Baconator Triple. Turns out Rumpels is the type of guy who will huff or drink anything if there’s the possibility of it getting him a buzz, because that’s the only reason I can come up with for why he would’ve discovered that consuming ground up pieces of the mirror gives him the ability to control others with his voice… I guess if you’re gonna build a bad guy around Jared Leto’s “trailer park meth head Joker”, he’s gotta snort/smoke/shoot up something weird, right? Sure. Rumpy’s doing the half-baked Joker thing, but even if he had the chops to be the tops, the cartoon sound effects that accompany him are obnoxious. To be honest, I’m biased, as there will only ever be one true Rumpy for this jackal god. And as much as I man crush for Robert Carlyle, he’s not it…

On the topic of people who have experience with transdimensional reflective surfaces, Wonderland's Alice (last name withheld unless you consider Tim Burton's version canon, in which case it's Kingsleigh) also ended up on Earth, and has cobbled together a small organization of fellow refugees under the intention of wrangling up trouble makers and shipping them back home before they fuck anything else up. On her payroll are Goldilocks (that home invading hussy), Piper (the vermin charming, mass abductor of children), Hatter (a harmless weirdo celebrating eternal tea time), and the Tweedle twins Dum and Dummer Dee (goodhearted scaredy ‘tards). In this version, Goldie is a bad-ass bombshell with twin handguns (and pigtails so she’ll resemble cinematic Harley Quinn), Piper is “generic good looking, wise-cracking hero guy”, Hatter is a psychotropic dropping rave DJ, and the Tweedles are half-wits dressed in some type of off-brand steampunk Super Mario Bros outfits (battery operated mustaches not included). Not exactly the Avengers, it’s no wonder our knock-off Nick Fury turns knock-off Amanda Waller, deciding it would be a good idea to bolster her skeleton crew of do-gooders with a supplemental add-on of ne’er-do-wells.

Rumpy’s captured and enlisted under the threat of an exploding wristwatch Alice binds him with. That and he can only outsmart Death so long, so he’s better off making some allies. In turn, he’s tasked with convincing his ex-girlfriend Gelda (Wonderland’s Queen of Hearts, now a sexy black lady decked out like a speakeasy flapper girl) to also join the gang, and her job is to use her apparent power of man control to pacify the murderous Bluebeard (who likes feeding women to his magical knives) into helping out too. The Big Bad Wolf is also there, playing the “monster with a heart of gold” role, going along because he’s got a gnarly knot over Goldie. Yeah, he’s basically just Marv from Sin City with bad dental work, right down to the same-name romantic interest. If they weren’t just ripping off Bigbie from “Fable”, I’d say they should’ve made this character the Beast, as in “Beauty and the”. There isn’t enough money in the effects budget to go full beast mode when it comes time for his inevitable lupine fiasco, so just call him a man-beast and leave it, Butt Fuchs.

Last on Alice's enlistment checklist is Carabosse, a savage, cannibalistic witch. Now, this one I had to do a little research on. Who I first thought was meant to be the child-eating witch with the gingerbread house who was burned alive by a little German kid, instead turns out to be the pissed off fairy-godmother from a 1600s “Sleeping Beauty” knock-off called “The Princess Mayblossom”! Very cheeky of you, Mr. Inman, putting a knock-off character into your knock-off movie! I appreciate the wink wink AND you forced me to learn something new today. Bravo, sir.

However, Carrie turns out to be a really bad draft pick on Alice's part when it's revealed that the razor-toothed wicked witch has a waterslide between her thighs when it comes to the only guarantee in life that doesn't include filling out forms and paying protection money to the government. Yep, more than a mere admirer, the sorceress is a straight up acolyte for The Pale Rider and probably bones herself with a femur while watching Faces of Death before bed. The best part about Witchy-Poo’s infatuation? Every time she wants a word with her would-be squeeze, she kills one of his messengers so he’ll inhabit their body. This diminishing of the Dead One’s numbers doesn’t piss him off so much as it just really irritates him.

It comes as no surprise that Carabosse’s loyalty to the antagonist escalates the plot past the “gather the group” stage, as Grim’s goons (dressed in generic “urban ninja militants” motif) infiltrate Alice’s base, where we spend the rest of the flick watching the good guys and good-bad guys try to figure out the Reaper’s endgame and put a stop to it before he kills them all and takes over Earth. As with any quorum of villains and monsters though, the real enemy is themselves, so it’s not a question of WILL everything go to shit, but how long will it take. Betrayal is inevitable. Such is life.

Being saddled with the typical bargain basement budget of an Asylum showing, it’s no “Shocker” (a movie I love, by the way) that the entirety of Squad takes place in and around an abandoned factory/warehouse/hobo hotel. At least it’s better than crap like Rise of the Zombies, where we’re shown a shot of a famous landmark (like the Golden Gate Bridge) and are hoodwinked with sound stage green screen sewage that makes The Room‘s rooftop scenes look like Hollywood magic. Also lacking any surprise factor for our flick is the previously expounded upon uniformity of Death’s goons’ attire. The fact that their faces are covered with hoods and face scarves makes it really easy for the same 5 or 6 extras to be killed without having to cut any additional checks. Hell, I’d bet dollars to dental appliances (of which this movie has several) that some members of the main cast earned an extra $20 and/or free sandwich coupon for Subway by pulling double duty. Speaking of, let’s discuss who earned their five dollar footlong, and who should go back to Tinsel Town Terry’s Back Alley Acting Academy.

Christina Licciardi was probably my favorite on this one. She plays Alice with just enough strength mixed with panic mixed with insecurity mixed with determination to make the whole thing work. Alice does what she has to to get the job done, and shows she’s not averse to getting some red on her . Her time on the other side of the looking glass has brought her a long way from where she was when she first fell down that rabbit hole, but hasn’t lost herself completely, and Licciardi pulls that off. A surprisingly good get for an Asylum picture, and I commend whomever cast her. Here’s to hoping she doesn’t get swallowed up by the obscurity beast and spend the rest of her career in Monstro’s guts, roasting kelp with an old man and his creepy wooden sex homunculus.

Don’t gimme that “He was just a little wooden boy you disgusting pervert!” crap either. His fucking dick-shaped nose grew like a telescoping sex toy, so blame the Blue Fairy if you’re gonna get so offended about your beloved childhood figures being reduced to innuendos. Or just get out your Ouija and blame Corey Allen’s ghost.

Johnny Rey Diaz isn't horrible as Rumpy, but his dollar store rendition of Jared Leto’s juggalo Joker is less over-the-top fun and more off-of-a-cliff irritating, in that that’s where you want to push him when he spends too much time over-revving his annoyance engine directly in your face. This could be less Diaz’s fault and more Inman’s, a la Chris Nolan being to blame for Christian Bale’s “choked on a rock salt dildo” Batman voice, so I won’t point fingers. I will point a thumb though, straight up, as JRD’s act grew on me when he turned down the kooky capering and it came time to take the trickster into more serious territory. Rump Roast was downright enjoyable by the end! And I’m a bitter old man who openly wishes death upon children at the mall!

In the interest of time, let’s make the rest of these quick. Lindsay Sawyer plays tough girl Goldilocks well enough without degenerating into a one-dimensional “bad-ass grrrl power!” caricature, and she looks great while doing it. Talia Davis (Gelda) is good as the selfish, spoiled Queen of Hearts, and doesn’t go Hawn & Russell (little Overboard joke for ya) with it. The flapper girl look works wonder(land)s for her too and turns me into a fapper boy. In the words of Inspector Gadget, “Yowzers”! Trae Ireland (Bluebeard) makes good enough “sinister sex criminal, literal ladykiller” faces to get his rapey-stabby persona across, but really doesn’t have much to do beyond that. I actually wouldn’t mind seeing him play Bluebeard in a full-length feature, but unless Warner Bros gives Suicide Squad member Slipknot (the role Bluey’s filling in for here) his own movie, I don’t see The Asylum bothering. Onto Isaac Reyes, he’s nothing special. Maybe’s it’s a case of being shafted with a barely interesting role (loser never even breaks out his magic flute), but pretty boy Piper was the plain oatmeal packet in this Quaker Oats variety box.

Fiona Rene was great as Carabosse, getting crazy and evil enough without vomiting ham everywhere. Visually she’s obviously a bite off of Suicide Squad villainess Enchantress, while her romantic obsession with Death takes directly from Harley’s abusive relationship with Mr. J, and I’m not mad about either. I mean in the angry way, not the “Mad About You” way, a show which makes me angry in a whole other way. I appreciate Rene’s physical and verbal evocation of the gutter witch for the most part, more so given the mondo oral obstruction she had to deal with while doing it! Speaking of dental nightmares that could put an Orthodontist’s kids through college, Joseph Harris is built well enough for his rip-off of Bigbie Wolf, but I’ll be damned if I gleamed even an ounce of the dude’s acting prowess. He spends the whole flick mumbling and growling from behind a bulldog level of artificial under bite. Sure, Karloff could convey a butt ton of emotion from behind full Frankenstein regalia, but it’s hardly fair to compare. As such, I’ll give The Big Bad Wolf a pass.

Nick Principe has a couple of decent comedy line deliveries as Death, but playing up the Reaper as a poor man’s Andrew Dice Clay doesn’t do anyone any favors, whether that’s Principe’s fault or Inman’s. Two talons down and a “Blart” for good measure. Finally, Aaron Moses gets in a decent moment or two of sympathy for the “big on heart but short on brains” twins (of which he plays both), while Randall Yarbrough (Hatter) just has to stand around being oblivious for half his screen time and sit around being ‘shroomed off his ass for the other half. So, Beavis bless his little glitter beard, but without the accompanying “madness” that we all associate with the tea swilling weirdo, his involvement is a lost cause at best and a waste of time at worst. Please collect your $300 headphones and see yourself out. Auf Wiedersehen.

With that done, let’s talk about sex, baby. By which I mean, let’s talk about writer-director Jeremy Inman. Saying that anything associated with The Asylum “shines” feels wrong, unless you’re dropping the always endearing proverb about the difficulties of putting a sheen on shit. As such, rather than saying Inman shines with Sinister Squad, allow me instead to praise him for vaulting well above the lowered bar I set for him and earning himself a gold medal! Unfortunately, in the ToA Olympics a gold medal is only the equivalent of a 3-out-of-5 (in order, both platinum and molybdenum rank higher), but for a movie that I was scooping up a pile of Ammut’s excrement for in preparation of condemnation, it’s still high praise! As of this episode, I’ve reviewed six other Asylum mistakes, and this model of mediocrity stands well above the majority of them! Most casual movie viewers will downright dislike it, for which I don’t blame them, but I may just end up liking Sinister Squad better than Suicide Squad if the bad news reviews I’ve heard are any indication!

Though the movie gives us a peek or two too many at its endgame, and the finale wraps things up a little too loosely, I actually found myself entertained. Maybe the heat’s finally scrambled my noggin like a dozen sidewalk eggs, but yes, I enjoyed the ending to an Asylum movie! A masterpiece by no stretch of a Tie Dang Gong student’s pecker, but it’s still a fun little movie that’s miles ahead of most Asylum brand caboose juice. By Charles Manson’s forehead swastika, will wonders never cease!? What I didn’t appreciate was the needless name drop at the end, as the group is literally referred to as Alice’s own little “Sinister Squad” (not to be confused with The Sinister Six, Mister Sinister, or The Sinister Minister), but that’s a jab at Will Smith’s equally bad selling of the title to his own team-up movie, so it’s understandable despite being aural barb wire dragged across my ear drums.

Before bringing this episode to its happy ending, for those wondering, the majority of the soundtrack is as bad as you’d fear it to be (but not bad enough to be good, like Ankle Biters‘ “3 Feet Tall”). It’s made up mostly of nothing special hip-hop and EDM generica, with some oddly appropriate old-timey ’50s teeny bopper soda jerk stuff thrown in for charm.

And with that, we tap out on another installment of The Tomb. It wasn’t until the majority of the work had already been done that I’d made the connection between this and Jeremy Inman’s prior work, Avengers Grimm. It seems to have a similar premise (only, as you’d presume, ripping-off Marvel’s The Avengers instead) and includes the tale of how Rumps (played then by Casper Van Dien) got his hands on the mirror and wrecked it in the first place, despite not being listed on IMDB as having a canonical connection between the pair. I intend on reviewing it for a future feature (I’ve got the next dozen or so reviews already laid out ahead of me), so with any luck Mr. Inman will continue to keep his spot on my good side and give me more praise to belt on about like Julie Andrews in the Austrian Alps after skiing with Scarface.

Peace be with you, my peoples. See ya next time!

Moral of the Story: You can’t always judge a book by its production company. Even broken clocks are right twice a day. You can’t polish a turd, but sometimes, just sometimes, a turd comes along that shines on its own.

Screenshots_____


In movie geekinese, that translates to “Enter at Your Own Rick”. Who’s Rick? You don’t wanna know.


That face you make when a crackhead offers to suck your dick for a fiver and you consider it… you know, because $5 is a really good price and you could probably just close your eyes and imagine Selena Gomez or something…


Keifer Sutherland takes a hard look at his life choices after another Christmas party ends with tequila on his breath and an innocent conifer’s sap on his hands


This scene is from the director’s “blue” period.


*mumble*mumble*mumble*mumble* (“Anybody wanna see me do a magic trick? I’ll make a pencil disappear! You know, like that scene… in that movie… with… that gay cowboy guy… Anyone?”)


Her father was the Flukeman and her mother was a piranha. Her conception was enough to give Dagon nightmares! The ironic part? She can chew through even the toughest of steaks, but she can’t digest meat, so she’s a vegetarian. True story.


“How bad ass are these, right?! I’m an insomniac, so I purchase all of my home décor from those late night knife sale shows. These puppies were calling my Diner’s Club card like a sailor to the sirens!”


She’s modeling the keystone outfit of the Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen spring collection.


“Please forgive me, tt was a one-night mistake! I was drunk and alone and confused! Those CHUDs meant nothing to me! I love YOU!”


“Is this really worth risking our necks over, Goldie?”
“Have you ever eaten bear porridge, Piper? Have you?! If you had, you wouldn’t be asking that question.”


“You think you’ve hit rock bottom? Come see me when you wake up from your latest blackout with your face covered in dried faerie jizz, then you can tell me about ‘rock bottom’, Jack.”


Special guest star Cesar Romero as The White Rabbit… bobblehead

———————————————————
———————————————————

Anubis will return next time in
“Return of the Return to the Blue Galoot”

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.

Advertisements

Feature 82 – Batman: the Killing Joke (2016)

or “The Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”

Featuring the voices of: Kevin “’Batman: The Animated Series‘” Conroy , Mark “the Star Wars movies” Hamill , Tara “’The New Batman Adventures‘” Strong

Director: Justin “Planet Hulk” Liu

Writer: Brian “Batman: Gotham Knight” Azzarello

Origin: USA

Review_____

“It doesn’t have to be good to be a classic!”

Uggh, the summer heat continues to drain my waning lifeforce straight out of my sweat holes on a daily basis. Call me Carbon monoxide, cuz I’m exhausted. Much like Simon Le Bon in “Hungry Like the Wolf”, I smell like I sound… if I sound like the embodiment of misery trapped in Sam Raimi’s Skinner flesh suit, saturated with the contents of the New York Giants’ training camp sweat bucket. Fucking festering bloody HELL! Those Faux News knob ends love to make their tired old “Where’s all this global warming liberal nonsense now?!” jokes every winter when the quicksilver dips into single digits (because they’re thumb sitting finger sniffers who don’t know how climate change works), but where are the same snide comments when every street reporter and their sweet Aunt Petunia is cooking Hot Pockets and fried eggs on the sidewalks? Exactly. Twats.

Speaking of twats, as good as a comic writer as Alan Moore is, he's got an unfortunate obsession with putting rape scenes into a lot of his work. I know it makes his stuff more “adult” and “gritty”, but there is an unnerving preoccupation with sexual assault going on in that man's head, and possibly even scarier things going on in that man's beard. These moments are always done in nauseating ways that make sure to remind the reader that rape is not an arousing act, but a hideous crime committed by monsters in human costumes, so I'm not accusing him of including them for his own titillation nor to attract sales from miserable worms who do get off on that shit. For you SAT lovers out there, sexual assaults are to Alan Moore’s work as The Classic is to Sam Raimi’s movies! Despite my prior diatribe (“priotribe”?) though, today’s review is for the recently animated adaptation of one of the man’s most prolific DC Comics projects of the ’80s, and one of the least rape prevalent works on the man’s resume. Whether it’s because even a “mature readers only” Batman story was only allowed to go so far under the watchful eye of Big Brother DC or Moore just wanted to leave it up to the readers’ brains to fill in the blanks with their own Mad Libs-ian answers, there was no graphic intercourse (forced or otherwise) to be had in this tale, considered by many to be the definitive story of the Batman’s oldest and darkest nemesis – the Joker.

Warning: If you’ve never read the 29 year-old comic book this movie is based on and are allergic to so-called cinematic spoilers, continue not but at your own risk! I have much to muse on this venture and not the emotional balance to tip-toe around all the broken glass. If you choose not to heed Crazy Ralph’s warning, your severed head will have no one but yourself to blame!

Originally conceived as an alternate universe one off (a gimmick DC would later dub “Elseworlds” stories), “The Killing Joke” laid out the Joker’s till-then-untold origin, making Batman and his cackling nemesis much more alike that anyone would have thought before. Although it drew these parallels between the pair it also made clear that three people, who each suffered the worse single days of their individual lives, all took very different paths amid their own personal mental fallout. As much as we’re all the same, we’re all still very very different… and yes, I ate the cookie after reading that.

The Clown Prince of Crime had escaped from Arkham Asylum yet again to cause his signature brand of maniacal mayhem. Rather than attack Batman directly this time, Grinnin’ Jo’ targeted the number one accomplice to the vigilante’s acts: GCPD Commissioner James Gordon. Jimmie’s night of terror began with his daughter Barbara being shot in the abdomen, leaving the lovely ginger paralyzed from the waist down and clawing at her unwanted second navel as she bled out on the carpet of her dad’s apartment. After getting throttled by the Laughing Man’s hired goons (Homer Simpson: “Hired goons?!”), Gordon would wake up later in the remnants of a rundown amusement park, the likes of which you’d expect to be owned by Dick Van Dyke and “haunted” by a guy pretending to be the ghost of a sideshow strongman in an episode of “The New Scooby Doo Movies”. Upon regaining said consciousness, the Commish (not to be confused with Michael Chiklis and his radioactive orange rubble dick) was stripped naked and harnessed by creepy bug-eyed midgets in S&M dungeon cupid get-ups, then dragged through a Tunnel of Love Torment where Mr. J tried to drive him to utter madness (not to be confused with the script-in-progress for my mad cow disease scare movie Udder Madness) with a bombardment of images showing the crippled and bloody Barbara in a disturbing state of undress.

Whether Jokes actually violated Babs with his unfunny bone in the process has been a state of contention between readers in the nigh-thirty calendars passed since its publication. Moore himself declared that Barbara was NOT raped in the story, but in a world where so-called Christian politicians are frequently disregarding their own fucking POPE every time the old man tells them to stop stealing from the poor and shoving golden butt plugs up their asses, fanboys and fangirls continue to debate exactly how many fluids stained that carpet off-panel and from whom they came.

That wasn’t intended as a rape joke, but it feels like it came out a lot skeezier than my usual sense of perverse humor normally would, given the context. If it made your guts feels greasier than a bag of McDonald’s double cheeseburgers (I’m convinced they straight up dip those nasty sammies into a bucket of old grease next to the grill before they wrap ’em up), my apologies.

Remember the part where I said “Killing Joke” was intended as an alt uni story? Well, it was so popular and well received that DC opted to make it canonical and crippled Batgirl in the base continuity. Babs would inspirationally overcome the limitations of her handicap and continue on as the superhero information broker Oracle, hacking the bad guys’ Ashley Madison accounts from the comfort of her wheelchair and forever battling the scourge of bedsores on her backside. Don’t laugh. Bedsores killed Superman, after all! Anyway, DC later rebooted their entire existence and recreated it as “The New 52”, a world where Miss Gordon would still be shot in the spine by the murderous jester of ill-repute, but would fully recover from the physical trauma and retake her place as the be-breasted member of the Batman’s brood, ultimately becoming a hipster heroine residing with the trust fund trash in Gotham’s version of Williamsburg. Blart.

If any of the trigger material I’ve run down up to this point has bothered you at all (especially for those with a fear of thick rimmed glasses and pork pie hats from that last bit), then I suggest you end your experience here and return the unused portion for a full refund… of your zero dollar investment. Fair warning – as much as everyone was anticipating this cartoon conversion of the beautifully rendered battle between two disturbed paragons of good and evil (if you haven’t seen Brian Bolland’s original art, get thee to a funnybook dispensary and partake, post haste!), it’s so much sleazier than the material that inspired it.

Killing Joke was released by Warner Bros (owners of DC Comics) one convenient week before their summer blockbuster-to-be, Suicide Squad. Despite being a team movie, the only real focus of the live-action SS has been on team member Harley Quinn and the controversial remodeling of their white trash version of The Joker, which does a disservice to the rest of the potentially entertaining cast. No diggity, a better suited title would’ve been Joker & Harley: Send in the Clowns! (featuring Batfleck and Big Willy Style). Hoping for something more than a marketing tie-in, fans moistened their Underoos when it was revealed that the characters’ voice actors from the now classic “Batman: the Animated Series” would be reprising the roles they helped make larger than life for kids of the ’90s. Kevin Conroy as Batman! Luke Skywalker as Joker! What’s-her-name as Batgirl! Woohoo! But, was it actually worth the anticipatory pants shittings that came about from the announcement?

To kick things off, if you were wondering how a 64 page one-shot graphic novel was going to be stretched into a 90 minute feature, that answer comes in the form of an original Batgirl tale, written by renowned comic scribe Brian Azzarello. Regarding the Bat, the Bazz has some experience already, including the acclaimed “Joker” one-shot with the dynamic Lee Bermejo on art, and the much less lauded “Broken City” storyline in the main “Batman” series with illustrator Eduardo Risso. In all fairness, “Broken City” was coming off of the heels of the massively successful all-star pairing of Jim Lee & Jeph Loeb’s “Hush” event, so despite not revolutionizing the character, it wasn’t a bad story so much as it was overshadowed… and I’ve probably lost most of you after that last paragraph, meant for comic geeks over Hollywood hangers-on. MOVING ON!

Presumably taking place in the period between the murder of Robin 2 and the arrival of Robin 3, Batgirl (Tara Strong) is pulling sidekick shifts for Batman (Kevin Conroy), helping keep the peace in Gotham City. And doing it in high heels no less! As with any female in a position of prominence, Barbara’s garnered the unwanted attentions of a fan-gone-too-far in the form of a criminal who calls himself Paris Franz (Maury Sterling)… really, Bazz? That’s what you call him? Sweet Christmas, man, if you didn’t want the job you could’ve just turned it down! Uggh.

This small time sleazeball has a hard-on for the ginger vigilante and though his efforts to get cozy with her go unrequited, they’re still enough to throw the high-heeled hero off her game and allow him to continuously get away. This doesn’t sit well with her spandex clad father figure, who reprimands her several times about staying away from Paris the Tongue Bandit. Pretty hypocritical of the old man, given his long term on(her)-again, (get)off-again humpin’ buddies relationship with Catwoman, not to mention (though I’m mentioning it) his belfry bang sessions with Talia fucking al Ghul, which resulted in the birth of THEIR SON! For Fastback’s sake, Bats, you ran out of orphans to be your leotarded right hands, so why not knock up the daughter of one of your most dangerous enemies for Robin #5! Left your Bat condoms back at the cave and figured Talia couldn’t get pregnant if she just jumped up and down after?! Sounds like Alfred was a pretty piss poor home educator when it came time to have “the talk”.

Where was I? Oh yeah, Batgirl. She rebels like a teenager, throwing hissy fits in her private life and rebuking Die Fledermaus’ orders, shouting about how she can handle the job and how her hormones won’t get in the way… then she completely contradicts herself and throws herself all over Bruce’s batpole. And so signals the moment when Brian Azzarello shat away his legitimacy with a large section of the fanbase.

Sorry kids, but it’s true. Batgirl is reduced to being a hormonal chick with authority issues who just can’t keep her tongue to herself. And Batman? He’s equally incapable of controlling his animal urges (despite how his whole deal is being in control of everything) for the sake of trying to give geeks something to wank about. Bats swaps spit with his young protege, gropes her ass, and gives his will over to Lil’ Brucie as his nubile daughter figure straddles him and undresses herself faster than Clark Kent in a phone booth as a creepy concrete gargoyle creep-eyes the joining of junk from above.

For the kids out there – a phone booth was basically a Tardis without all the space-time manipulation stuff. They just had, well, a phone inside. Shut up. I’m not old, you’re just stupid! BAH!

I thought the numerous shots of Batgirl’s/Barbara’s backside were the gratuitous work of a 14yo boy before this, and had concerns when one scene featured a redheaded hooker alluding to Paris’ penchant for mask play, but for the filthy love of Bob fucking Kane (or Bill fucking Finger, depending on whose side you’re on), Bazz! No, you know what, forget my prior pet name. After reducing this to a PG-13 fanboy fantasy, your new moniker is now “Brazz”, as in short for “Brazzers”.

And for the dickards out there wanking themselves to this with one hand (Seriously? Google “Batgirl hentai” or just search “Batgirl” on PornHub, YouPorn, PayNadaPornanza, or whatever your free fuck movie service of choice) and using the other to type out disparaging YouTube comments for those of us against the needless character assassination going on here or anywhere else by calling us “social justice warriors” because we're not misogynists like you, feel free to choke on your own mincing members, you putrid, seething, self-loathing, subhumanoid cum squats.

What nut fart coined phrases like “social justice warrior” and “white knight” to begin with, anyway? Clearly some CHUD who thought that the reason women weren’t throwing themselves face first at his dick had nothing to do with his being a sack of rancid garbage and everything to do with weak little pussy boys who pretend they’re better than him by treating women like they’re not just prettied up breeding stock put on this planet to make casseroles and babies. Just the type of scrotal flea who thinks words like “social justice” and “white knight” are bad things, because they go against the “alpha male” rapist personality that they were told they had to be their entire lives if they wanted to be a success, but upon whom the total irony of using those terms as insults is lost when they’re looking up to heroes like Batman as their fucking idol. Grow up, you simpering shit sniffers. Learn some gods damned empathy and figure out how people want to be treated instead of just treating them like crap for starters! Chances are you can’t afford to import a slave wife of your own, so straighten the hell up or you’re only going to have yourself to blame when you die alone having never known real love.

And not that mandatory love given by someone who was legally responsible for your well being. That doesn’t count!

And the fuckery doesn't end there, either. Oh no no no. After giving Batgirl the best sex of her life (as we're forced to overhear during one of Babs' workplace girltalk sessions with her gay co-worker, who might wanna call the fire department, cuz he's a straight up flaming stereotype), post-hookup Batman turns into Craftsman (i.e. a complete tool) and altogether AVOIDS Batgirl. For WEEKS. So, the same guy who’s trained his mind and his body for decades to the point of being one of the most dangerous men on Earth becomes a whimpering little bitch-boy just like that?! Holy chastity cages! Matching wits with Riddler? Going toe-to-claw with Killer Croc? Holding the mangled corpse of his murdered ward in his arms? Nothing, compared to the nerve crushing intimidation of having to talk to Batgirl after a one-nighter. Did she slip a digit in his dumper without asking and he’s ashamed that he liked it? Did he blurp out a Brodie Bruce while she was going down on him? Did he call her “Robin” when he came? You’re Batman, for fuck’s sake! BATMAN! DAMN IT, BRAZZ! WAS THIS SUPPOSED TO BE EDGY?! YOU ACTUALLY GOT PAID FOR THIS!? BUCKETS OF BLOOD! ARGH!

That's it. Forgive me if this sounds like fanboy rage, but if I linger on this amateur fanfic shit storm story any longer, I'm gonna have a fucking stroke and risk losing my spot in the tontine I signed into with the boys and girls from up North for the keys to the Kraken. From this point on, the movie basically follows the “Killing Joke” story to the letter anyway, minus a bonus scene here and there for further running time enhancement. Unfortunately, this includes one of Bats hitting up some hookers for info on Jokeman that just tries to lead more credence to the “Joker raped crippled Barbara” theory THAT ALAN MOORE ALREADY SQUASHED. Yep, more of that edgy “pander to the maturity retarded” bullshit to try and justify the R rating. Guy Gardner help me…

Okay, so the story’s a lead balloon filled with farts in a church… so much for mixing metaphors. The entire first half, which was created to not just pad time (mmmm, pad thai) but show non-fans why Batgirl’s part in the story is important (which it never really was, and now just smells like so much exploitational stink!), is just needless and irritating and tonally wrong wrong WRONG!

That said, let's pretend we're a Grindr user with blue balls and see how the rest measures up! The animation is solid. It's standard DC stuff a la previous Batman Merrie Melodies, such as Under the Red Hood and Son of Batman. That’s not a bad thing if you’re looking for a more realistic art style. It fits the other DC movies just fine, but not so much in this instance. Brian Bolland’s art (I repeat, funnybook dispensary, post haste, get thee!) in the book is a high standard to live up to. Its heavier shadowing and richer colors are poorly represented by the paint-by-numbers job we end up watching. And in a story that hinges on Joker’s personal flashbacks and special demented brand of insanity, there’s so much room for creative license that just gets ignored! To paraphrase the late Heath Ledger’s jolly sociopath, “Why so lazy?” Maybe WB could’ve taken a cue from Beavis and Butthead Do America‘s Rob Zombie hallucination sequence and brought in industry folks like Sam Keith (remember the MTV adaptation of his psychedelic “Maxx” comic book?) or Simon Bisley to add their own stylized touch, punching the visuals up a bit. Hel, go outside of the proverbial comic box and hire a freak like Ralph Steadman to really kick the shit out of those bastard visuals! You just know those visuals did something to deserve it, so if the cops come around asking if you witnessed anything, you didn’t see NOTHIN’. Got it? Good.

By the way, if you hate rambling reviews where the writer just pisses on and on about how they would've done the thing they're reviewing differently, my apologies. I try not to be that person, but comic books are one of the few things I’ve had a boner for longer than movies. Sometimes my metaphorical urine stream just doesn’t stop and we get an “Ogre takes the world’s longest leak in Revenge of the Nerds 2” position like the one I’m currently locked into. I once again throw myself to your tender mercies in repentance, but I don’t feel right when bitching isn’t backed up with reasons and alternatives aren’t offered by the offended. It’s too “Conservative politician” for me.

As mentioned, the announcement of Kevin Conroy AND Mark Hamill returning to lend their voices to the pop culture icons that they helped redefine during the dark days that were the Schumacher movies left the internet losing control of its collective bladder. I mean, sure, the duo had just finished voicing the very same pairing last year in the Batman: Arkham Knight video game (as they had also done for the Arkham Asylum and Arkham City installments before), but what self-respecting geek plays video games these days, right?! Ignoring the massive sarchasm with which I just split the Earth apart wider than Michelle Duggar’s birthing void, the reason this was a big deal was due to Hamill’s vow that he would never again do his signature Joker voice (because of the wear and tear is does to his vocal chords), unless there was to be an adaptation of “The Killing Joke”. So, banking on Hamill’s renewed popularity following his part in the highest grossing movie of all time (which I still haven’t watched), DC and WB fast tracked the production with a Wally West quickness, cracked out on the possibility of a “Big money, no Whammies!” payout. Too bad they also managed to bury the lead when it was announced before the movie’s release that this wouldn’t be Marky Mark Skywalker’s final portrayal of the clown-faced killer, as he and Conroy are both coming back AGAIN to voice their respective alter egos for the not-out-as-of-this-writing cartoon series “Justice League Action”…

Were this not disappointing enough, not only is the Hamill “get” not nearly as special as we were first told, but the damage the Joker role has done to the old man is pretty damn prevalent listening to the hoarse delivery, with several instances of bordering-on-cracking. You can just picture his voice box exploding like an IED the next time a convention hall full of fanfolk goads him into doing it “just one more time!”. Even if Cock-Knocker's gullet wasn’t resembling that of a deep throat porn star’s post-retirement, Killing Joke‘s dialogue is just too moody and philosophical for his brand of Mr. J mania. Alan Moore’s words are some of Joker’s most prolific, but they’re square pegs in Hamill’s round mouth hole. HOWEVER, I gotta give props where they’re owed – Hamill’s rendition of the movie’s big song and dance number is perfectly suited for him and he pulled it off brilliantly. Kudos!

Speaking of said scene, here’s something else I can’t let slip through my grip without a gripe – Joker’s gaggle of sideshow goons. Yes, with every day of age I get a little more cantankerous and bitching about small things is cheaper than therapy. Now, despite what the posters of Old Man Withers’ haunted amusement park would suggest, I’m presuming that Joker’s gang was not included with the deed and are an actual team of thugs he had on retainer for whenever he made his latest escape from Arkham. They’re all trained in various disciplines of combat (including the two-headed lady’s knife-throwing ability, which is sometimes accurate enough to take Batman’s smoke bombs out in mid-air, but other times inaccurate enough to stab her own associates in the back) to further pad the action a tad, but they’re also fairly well trained as a troupe of back-up dancers for Joker’s big musical scene… The fuck?

As much as some of my opposition to the movie during my first viewing cooled off by the second viewing, it’s still far from great. What should’ve been a milestone in DC appealing to their mature audiences with an adaptation of one of the Dark Knight’s most infamous tales instead turned out to be a clunky, uneven, off-putting clusterfuck that tries too hard to humanize its heroes and only tarnishes them when all is said and done. In the end, The Killing Joke lands in the camp of crappy attempts at making Alan Moore comics into movies, right alongside The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and From Hell. Much like post-bang “bitchy broad” Barbara, who hurls a civilian onto the back of his head for no reason beyond telling his girlfriend he needs space (IT HAPPENS!), I’m tossing The Killing Joke into some bushes and walking away like nothing happened.

As Warner Bros spokesbacon Porky Pig always says, “F-f-f-f-f-f-fuck off, folks!”

Moral of the Story: As per his own words, The Joker is a connoisseur of piss… Now all I can think of is Batman’s deadliest villain, dressed like a purple hipster, partaking in a frothy yellow wine tasting. Damn it.

Screenshots_____


“Wanna see me do a trick? But first, did you ever see Night of the Demons III? I don’t want to spoil the surprise!”


So the villain of this story is Guy Smiley?


Ever since the mall perfume stands switched to a commission only pay structure, employees have gotten WAY too aggressive.


“Can you hurry up and catch the damn Vulpix already?! We’ve got crime to fight!”


Wow, even underwater that guy’s hair retains its full body! He must use Mary Matthews’ All Natural Protein Hair Gel™.


I wonder if Peter knows that Mary Jane’s been posing for sexy mobster paintings… really shitty paintings at that. Why’s her torso so short?!


“Sorry Manuel. As much as I’d like to strike out under my own persona, I just don’t think ‘Pigeon Princess’ strikes fear into the heart of the criminal element.”


“Oh my god! Mad Hatter’s running naked through the street!”
“Meh. I’ve seen bigger. And scarier. Ever seen Killer Croc naked? Trust me, you don’t want to.”


“BatPhone jack… BatPhone jack… DAMN IT! Why do I always have to put so much bullshit in my car that I can’t even find the Grodd damn BatPhone jack without a GPS?!”


Get it? Cuz it says “GOTHAMS RAGE” and Batman is Gotham’s outlet of revenge? You know, like in Batman Returns, when Catwoman wrecks her big neon “Hello There” sign and it says “Hell Here”? Uggh.


Despite tragic results with early test audiences, Sony went through with the release of Paul Blart 2 as planned. Though the long-term damage to society as a whole has yet to be measured, experts agree that we, as a species, may never recover…


That’s not so much an advertisement for the Fat Lady as it is a matter-of-fact poster made for skeptics. “See… the Fat Lady. I told you she was real. Pay up.”


The Joker’s secret origin? He used to be Kramer!
(And why the fuck is that doorway twice the size of the actual door?!)


I’ve had fantasies that looked exactly like this… uhm, I mean, “nightmares”! I’ve had nightmares that looked exactly like this!


“The fax machine at work broke down, so the company’s sent me out door-to-door to inform people that they may be eligible for our free cruise giveaway!”


Many wars and feuds did Joker fight. Honor and fear were heaped upon his name and, in time, he became a king by his own hand… But that is another story.


“Yeah, we can do all that! But you’re gonna have to pay us the premium rate, you give us the money up front, and if you put this up online, our pimp is gonna scalp you! Now, you got a room already, or you wanna use ours?”


“Damn it. EVERY time I start making brownies, these assholes need something!”
(How the Hel is he even able to see the signal from that position!?)


Alright, which one of you assholes got Bat Mite hooked on meth?!


“No… hey… come on, Bats… you gotta stop… DAMN IT! I HAVEN’T EVEN TOLD YOU THE JOKE YET! STOP LAUGHING!”

———————————————————
———————————————————

Anubis will return next time in
“#SquadHoles”

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 76 – City Under Siege (2010)

or “Big Top Beatdown”

Featuring: Aaron “The Storm Riders” Kwok , Qi “Journey to the West” Shu, Collin “The Matrix Reloaded” Chou

Director: Benny “Gen X Cops” Chan

Writers: Benny “Gen X Cops” Chan & Chi-Man “Invisible Target” Ling

Origin: Hong Kong

Review_____

“Life is like a flying dagger. As the flying dagger goes, it must hit the target.”

All my life I’ve been searching for something
Something never comes never leads to nothing
Nothing satisfies but I’m getting close
Closer to the prize at the end of the rope…

The Tomb’s 3rd anniversary is October 1st. Three is the “novelty sneakers” anniversary. If someone doesn’t get me some of that groovy be-chinned footwear, all love is a lie and life is a pointless endeavor that goes on forever. Just so you know.

On to other matters, because of my many months away from The Tomb (let’s say due to a journey through alternate realities where I had to stop an evil version of myself from destroying all of existence by killing our other selves and absorbing their power to supplement his own) I’m taking a further break from the Tour de Farce so I can give higher priority to other movies that have crossed my desk since. And yes, it’s a literal desk, made of the finest polished femurs, spines, and rib bones of Rupert Murdock’s ancestors. Totally worth the hauntings.

To that end, I thought it prudent to finish this review (started in January) before putting the T de F back into its cryogenic freeze tube for a while longer. Today’s episode features the Hong Kong sing-a-long ring ding dong we call City Under Siege.

Expected a Dr. Dre reference? Nope. He’s banned from The Tomb for selling $300 headphones to stupid children with stupider parents. Anyway, before we get started, let’s mine the ancient secrets of the mystical island of Hong Kong!

On second thought, never mind. This review’s already 4 months late and my laptop is starting to give me third degree dick burns. I don’t have time to play tour guide. If you wanna know any esoteric facts about HK, its economy, its culture, its people, its impact on the rest of the world, or its dark history of horrendous crimes in the fields of drug trade and human trafficking (I’m presuming), pay your preferred search engine a visit. Let’s just get to the movie and cut to the chase…oh, I forgot to mention that a hefty portion of today’s movie revolves on an axis of knife throwing. That might have been pertinent info before making a pun like “cut”. My apologies.

Not to be confused with the Police Academy sequel (#6!) of the same name, City Under Siege is the tale of Li Fei (Aaron Kwok), whose peers call him Sunny… not really sure why, but let’s say it’s because of his sunny disposition. Or that time he stabbed a waitress to death with a fork for rupturing the yolks on his sunny-side-up eggs. Whatever pulls your lever. Anyway, when Sunshine’s parents died in a car accident (and sadly not during an armed mugging which always makes for a better origin), his uncle Tak (Wah Yuen) took him in and gave him a job as a clown in his traveling performance troupe, The Thunderbolt Circus. Though grateful not to have been cast off like the orphan he was, Sun was never happy as a colorful fool and instead wanted to live up to his dear departed daddy’s legacy as the knife throwing “King of Flying Daggers”, 26th descendant of the legendary marksman, Thousand Flying Daggers. Unfortunately for Sunny he’s more like the Prince of Flying Daggers, and even then the “Prince” part would be more an honorary family title than an earned one. This guy sucks more than a hospital custodian’s ShopVac in the middle of an ebola outbreak when it comes to the family cutlery slinging business. I wouldn’t trust him to butter my biscuits let alone let him hurl sharp lengths of steel at me while I’m strapped to a spinning wheel o’ death!

Despite his insistence that the talent in his genes will bear fruit if Uncle Tak (no word on an “Aunt Tik”) would just give him a chance to put innocent paying customers’ lives in danger, his cousin Zhang Chu (Collin Chou) refuses to give up his place in the spotlight as the show’s marquee marksman. In fact, he threatens to gut Suns if he doesn’t stop trying to horn in on his job, so don’t expect to see our hero headlining shows anytime soon. Unless maybe Chu gets a bout of the flu or leaves the circus to go on a crime spree as a psychotic hulking brute…

It feels like we’re supposed to pity our protagonist in this scenario, but when we’re introduced to him, Sunny literally (as said in Rob Lowe’s Chris Traeger inflection) goes off script during a show in Malaysia and comes within seconds of committing manslaughter on an unknowing audience dupe before cool guy Chu has to step in and put “The Prince” back in his place! Sure, as with the majority of movie bad guys, ChuChu comes off as a douche knocker. BUT, he very likely saved a woman from PTSD at best and straight up VIOLENT DEATH at worst at the hands of selfish man-child Sunny, who was willing to endanger those around him for the sake of his own fucking ego! This guy is our hero!? Holy shit. Overcoming poor self-esteem and a limited natural skill set is fine for a budding hero-to-be like Spider-Man or Kick-Ass, but they only put themselves at risk with their amateur tomfoolery. Sunny is a fucking sociopath! No matter how far this flick may go in its efforts to redeem its do-gooder over the remainder of its runtime, it’s now going to be dragging The Stone of Shame for the extent of said stigmatic excursion. For shame!

As is cinematic law, Chu and the other “too cool for school” members of their little big top clique single Sunny out as the weakest member of the social herd, and as such exercise their dominance by treating him like a red-nosed reindeer. Whilst in Malaysia engaging in their post-show chicanery, the crew catch Sunny tagging along and opt to include him as their point man (i.e. stooge) whom they can just ditch/scapegoat/murder later as the situation requires. Their scheme? The bullies are investigating a local cave rumored to be home to a cache of buried treasure! BUT (yes, there’s always a but there… much like the case of my lap), as we the audience were presented in the picture’s prologue, this cave was the site of war crime experimentation by the Japanese military in the waning days of WW2: Axis Boogaloo. Check out the Men Behind the Sun movies for more on that kinda shit. In an effort to bring an end to their protracted campaign to extend the shadow of their empire over the entire East, these army scientists were dabbling in an immoral aerosol that would induce monsterism in their P.O.W.s, turning the captives into rampaging abominations! Basically Nature’s Goodness minus the pleasing taste.

Before the mutagenic mist could be perfected, the raiders from the Rising Sun’s workspace was bombed all to shit (in a scene I’ll antagonistically analyze later) by the Red Stars, leaving any remaining stashes of the unfinished super-beast spray buried. Can you see where this is going? If not, you might need to make an appointment with the figurative optometrist to get your foresight checked. Benny Chan isn’t just leading us with a trail of bread crumbs, he’s dropping full-on baguettes shaped like arrows! For those with mental glaucoma, here’s the malnourished rendition – the gang open the containers expecting precious metal (to be fair, the first one does have a stash of the shiny stuff) and get a chemical sauna instead a la Return of the Living Dead‘s Frank and Freddy. Our hero ends up passing out on a conveniently placed fishing boat nearby, one of the gang lays dead by broken neck when his attempt to kill Sun goes fatally wrong, and the remaining quartet of super steroid saturated nogoodniks are left vomiting vanilla pudding, no doubt destined to become evil Hong Kong off-brand Ninja Turtles. Not to be confused with Michael Bay’s actual bastardized half-shell bohemoths.

Anubis Note: In case you haven’t seen Rob Zombie’s Halloween II, “bohemoth” is how we spell that shit here. And yes, it’s pronounced “bo-he-muth” in case you were wondering.

It turns out the vessel our bumbler stumbled upon is a smuggling ship, and when his hosts find him unresponsive on board, they toss his sorry ass into the South China Sea! Lucky for him it seems the naturally occurring tides are coincidentally heading back to his homeland of Hong Kong, where he’s washed ashore after a few days afloat. Finally freed from his one-man coma cruise, Sunny awakens to find his body doing its best impression of Spongebob’s stage act: The Amazing Mr. Absorbancy! Sporting an XXXXL waistline and the incessant sensation of walking in wet sneakers, he tries to find his way back to the Thunderbolt Circus home office, discovering how hard it is to hitch a ride in the middle of the night when you look like a cast off from a Ju-On movie set on a cruise ship. Fortunately for him, a lovely lady named Angel Chang (played by Qi Shu, who we recently saw in Journey to the West!) stops, requesting help with her bamboozled back tire then offering her impromptu AAA lifeline a ride home in thanks. Along the way, Sunny recognizes Angel from the local newscast and marks out, declaring his fandom for her. Of all the people in HK who could’ve happened along looking for help, it just so happens that the minor celebrity our hero’s got the awkward stalker hots for is the one. Even for a movie that’s not just stretching it, that’s hyper-extending said “it” like the arm/leg of a generic bad guy in a Steve Seagal movie. Backwards elbows and knees, people. Cringe.

Returned home, Sun bids adieu to his love interest-to-be and plops into bed like the garbage bag full of tapioca he has become. Overnight, he secretes more liquid refreshment than the entirety of the background dancers did across all four volumes of Sweatin’ to the Oldies. While he’s soaking his sleeping space harder than a gang of 3rd grade bed-wetters at a sleepover, his fellow Thunderbolt performers make their turn to a life of crime official as they rob an armored truck to the tune of 5 million dollars! I’m guessing they’re Hong Kong dollars though, so it’s more like 20k American, give or take? Meh. That’ll barely afford them one of Gwyneth Paltry, errrr Paltrow‘s vibrators and a gallon jug of Japanese whale oil lubricant. Peasants.

Fuck sake. For $15k that thing better be a piece of StarkTech that turns into a suit of portable Iron Man armor!

The armored car is just one stop on the quartet’s crime spree tour though, as they’ve been busy knocking over jewelry stores and the like too. Enhanced with telekinetic powers, super strength, and bulletproof skin, it’s been the proverbial cakewalk for the villains. Unable to stop them with mere guns and police brutality, the Mu Shu porkies call in superhuman specialist agents Suen Ho (Jing Wu) and Ching Shau Wah (Jingchu Zhang). Partners in career and in life, the pair are accused of being an adorably low key professional law enforcement couple and could be sentenced to live happily ever after if convicted. I can say, with no certain certainty, that I’m certain these two are my favorite Asian movie couple since Wild Zero‘s Ace and Tobio.

The movie (or at least the English subtitle track I had to hunt down) tells us that Ho and Wah have arrested supernatural criminals before, but doesn’t give us any further allusions to just who these enhanced do-badders were. No idea if the pairing have appeared in prior Benny Chan productions, but in all honesty I really don’t care to look any further than I have already. My dick burns are getting burns on top of them! Just to be safe, I’m going to say that CUS takes place in a cinematic Hong Kong akin to Spider-Man 3 NYC – metahumans aren’t littering the place like Captain America: Civil War, but they’re also clearly not undiscovered yet like Meteor Man.

Speaking of, Meteor Man is part of the Marvel Universe continuity. I shit you not. It’s only a matter (or meteor) of time until we see Robert Townsend’s name show up on a cast listing for Avengers: Infinity War!… maybe “NetFlix’s The Defenders”?… maybe not?… probably not. Blart.


Exhibit A

The duo are due to exchange nuptials (or “swap nups” if you’re me, which you’re not, for which you should be praising Ra) in 30 days, so Hao vows to take the Frightful Four down in 20. Really? So he’s going to let them run roughshod on the Kowloon precious gems market for 3 weeks before he decides it’s time to put an end to their shenanigans?! Prick. Speaking of, Angel’s boss/boyfriend KK (Slider?) informers her that the higher ups at the news station are kicking her down the corporate ladder a few rungs so they can give her spot to a younger, hotter replacement named Yoyo. Yoyo? Yep yep. Not only is our lady losing her seat at the anchor desk, but it turns out she’s lost her seat in her boyfriend’s lap too, also replaced by her Duncanian rival. We learn that Angel herself got where she was by traveling the exact same path as Yoyo, but that’s different! Right? Cuz she’s a hero? Meh. Moving on. In an effort to save a shred of what remaining pride our heroine has left, Angel dumps a glass of water over K’s cranium, declares their relationship null and void, and officially hands in her verbal resignation. Whatever makes you feel less like a stepped-on piece of dog shit in the middle of the sidewalk, lady. Keep your head up and move on. Godspeed.

What’s a working gal to do in this modern age of HD media, where genetics are prized over journalistic ethics? Where looks trump integrity? Well, it just so happens that the same day old maid Angel finds herself destined for the unemployment line (or the glue factory… I’m not sure how they tackle this shit in China), her biggest fan awakens with abilities beyond those of mortal men. Indeed, just like Chu and, uhm, the other three circus performers (I’m not good with names or having to look them up), Sunny’s received his membership card to the Superhumans Society! On his way to the police station to explain his situation (and distance himself from his crime spreeing co-workers), his pathway is impeded by a hostage negotiation. Angel, having the Lois Lane-like super power to be in the right place at the right time, witnesses Sunny make the save, freeing the captive policewoman from her assailant with a combination of telescopic slow-mo “precision vision” and inhuman strength, accuracy and reflexes, with which he throws a single stick, shattering the abductor’s gun and piercing his arm from across the street! While everyone around him stares agape in awe and the press presence swarms him for a statement like ants on a Twinkie, ‘Gel whisks him away to a cab (I guess she’s just leaving her own car abandoned in the middle of traffic?!) for a “private interview”… which, despite the probable perversion with which you may have read that (ya gutter creeper), doesn’t mean they went home and swapped sweet and sour sauces. Amazing the places a pair of quotation marks can take the human mind.

With little imaginary hearts floating around his head (might wanna check your scalp for parasites, Flapjack), Sunny’s more than happy to give the newly freelance reporter her exclusive one-on-one with the Hong Kong Kal-El. Meanwhile, back at the Hall of Doom (in this instance, a lovely house in the middle of nowhere with an in-ground pool!), Chu and the others have kidnapped several biological engineers in hopes of reversing the grotesque monster mash side-effects of their genetic mutation. Despite being told there is no way of turning them from Fangoria cover models back into a Silver Ash cover band, they find hope when they see their old punchline Sunny on the evening news looking none the worse for toxic wear. A testament to the ancient healing powers of the South China Sea? Or just another use of the old science fiction deus ex machina of “some people are just genetically different and are immune to stuff!”? Either way, Chu and chums aim to find out.

Arriving at the Thunderbolt Circus locale faster than Bruce Wayne going back to Gotham after conquering The Pit (fucking Dark Knight Rises), the bad guys try to nab their errant clown mid-interview. Chu should change his name to SPF 69, cuz Angel just got Sun blocked! *rimshot* Awkwardly introducing himself to the minor celebrity while his hairline recedes and his increasingly lumpy face is painted up with Luna Vachon veins (see below), Chu confesses that he’s her number one die-hard fan and makes rapey face at her. How… flattering? You can practically hear Miss Chang’s ovaries shriveling on the vine the longer he talks to her. The expected altercation is instigated and the movie’s first real exchange of wire-fu is initiated!

No brawl-for-all by any stretch of the term, Sunny and Angel spend the time running and ducking their pursuers as best they can before finally being subdued. Chu threatens to bleed our hero in the search for the secret of his success, but his knife is halted by the timely intervention of the mutant hunting dynamic duo, Hao and Wah, sporting mirrored shades and martial arts! The battle ends when Sunny, seemingly turning into a cartoon character with his comically red “pressure cooker” face (that you expect to send steam shooting out of both ears), freaks the fuck out and throws two fistfuls of flying daggers at his prior impeder of career promotion. Chu responds in kind, deflecting the swarm of steel shards with a flurry of his own, sending razor sharp metal ricocheting all over the fucking place! Small appliances explode, glass shatters, structures collapse, one of the villains takes an errant dagger to the chest, and the rest of the antagonists beat feet while the heroes collect the unconscious Sunny and rush him to a hospital.

In intensive care, Sunny’s examined by scientists and it’s indeed determined that he bears the mythical movie MacGuffin of antibodies unique to his DNA. Yep, out of the billions of people who would have otherwise been malformed by exposure to the experimental discharge (like the other four people that were), one of the tiny group of FIVE just happened to be uniquely resistant. Not even to the formula in its entirety, mind you, but only the dangerous uglifying parts of it. Don’t think I enjoy telling movie logic to get off my lawn like this. My nitpickery is tantamount to acupuncture needles being slowly pushed between my vertebrae, or filling my codpiece (what, you don’t wear a codpiece?!) with hungry scarabs. It is my curse. Damn Tiki Gods. You put termites in their pillows one time and you spend the rest of eternity wanting to chew your fingers off at bullshit times like this!

While the white coats would rather keep Super Sun under indefinite lock and key for more in-depth observation (and likely dissection for sale to some Chinese super soldier program), the police don’t think the public would be too pleased with the smiling new face of mutant moderating being held in constabulary custody. Instead, Hao and Wah are assigned to be his bodyguards while Miss Chan picks up the role of talent agent to the city’s new cynosure for his upcoming avalanche of inevitable media overexposure. It happened when the Simpsons found that monkey’s paw, and it’ll happen to you too! Angel’s also fallen in love with the little goof already, because of course she has. Some would say she’s got hearts in her eyes, some would say they’re just dollar signs. I say it’s both. I may just be a foreigner, but fill my eyes with that double vision. No disguise, for that double vision.

The glamorous life of hocking Diarrhea Killer and prancing like a grinning idiot for publicity appearances goes straight to the hero’s head, ironically swelling it figuratively while his enemies’ domes are swelling literally. As for Hao, his plan to use the unwitting Sunny as bait to draw out the baddies has put a cramp into his marriage plans, postponing the date and drawing out Wah’s ire instead. She proposes that instead of the two of them tackling the remaining trio of mutants themselves, they train Sun to actually be a superhero rather than just play one, evening up the odds. Hao’s ego won’t let him risk someone else completing his job and taking his glory though, so sad to say, this is the exact moment you can start the countdown clock for Wah’s impending inclusion in the movie’s “in memorium” reel.

Cue the next fight, as Chu and the others make their next move, striking while Sunny D’s doing yet another photo shoot. The in-name-only slayer of sinners gets bodied hard by his nemesis, while Hao uses his uncanny acupuncturist prowess to beat Chu’s girlfriend with ease, promising to have her locked up and experimented on for the rest of whatever life she has left. She opts for what’s behind Door #2 instead, and self-immolates amid the pool of gasoline she was carelessly left incapacitated in. Back inside, Chu shows us his ignorance on human biology (specifically how antibodies work) by Dracula-ing off some of Sun’s vein V8, only to be massively disappointed when it doesn’t remedy away his uggo-itis. Before he can stomp the envy of his eye six feet under, the Heroic Duo drop in from off-screen to save the day. Rather than retreat, Hao’s determined to make good on his promise to marry his wifey-to-be on time, so he trades blows with the biggest baddie and leaves it up to Wah to keep their bait from being snatched off the hook by the last remaining member of the Chu Crew, uhm, mohawk guy.

Ill-prepared for the mutants’ continued evolution, Hao’s pride is his downfall, as his ambition to close the case distracts him from preventing his lady getting her internal organs pulverized by Mohawk. When he finally notices, it’s time for a late retreat as he escapes with Wah and Sunny in tow. But it’s too late. With tear streaked cheeks and a mouthful of blood, Wah tells her incredibly sweaty man to take care of himself, never lose himself, and never be afraid because she’ll always be watching over him. Then she dies…in the passenger seat of a stolen station wagon. Just like Han Solo… in my 2003 fan film re-visioning of Return of the Jedi.

As if this loss wasn’t enough of a shake up, the movie’s timeline gets a bit weird here. Hao sets up Sunny on a cot in a shack along a nearby river and sticks him full of needles to nurse the defeated hero back to health. When said hero comes to, he finds his savior nearby, torching his dearly departed in the flames of his makeshift pyre (i.e. he set the station wagon on fire)…in the same area she died…so…this all has to be taking place not too long after our previous scene…so whose house did they break into for their acupuncture session?! And since when can acupuncture fix broken organs and blood loss in what can’t have been more than a few hours!? OUCH! There goes another two scoops of scarabs.

And so, with both of our brotagonists having fallen hard from the height of hubris, now they must pick each other up like a pair of crane game claws. You know how much of a bitch those things can be. Forged by Loki himself, they are! Anyway, Hao vows to teach Sunny how to control his powers in his scorched fiancee’s honor, so let’s cue the montage!

With her boyfriend/client engaged in secret training for what could be weeks (or might just be a few days? The movie’s not 100% clear on it.), Angel’s left alone to mourn his perceived passing. As alone as you can get when you’re under 24 hour police protection, at least. The star-crossed lovers flashback to black & white renditions of their prior scenes together, denoting loss and longing as such scenes do. Having put the entire city under siege (we have a title!) alongside his last remaining cohort since Sunny’s disappearance, Chu (who stole Weird Al’s plastic Rambo muscle suit from UHF) uses his enemy’s pilfered cell phone to call Angel and tell her how he desperately needs her to deliver him from his personal Hell of emo teen sadness. Note to readers: listening to The Cure and other depressing music when you’re sad doesn’t make you less sad, it just reminds you why you’re sad in the first place, then piles on MORE SAD! Despite the saying, fighting fire with more fire only makes a BIGGER FIRE!

Feeling like she has nothing left to live for now (or maybe she’s just tired of needing a security detail every time she has to dump ass), Angel strikes a plan with the pigs to use her as a lure to entice Chu into a trap. She could just call him back and allow the military to triangulate his locale via the phone, but that wouldn’t put her life in immediate danger, so why bother?! Remember how well things went the last time an Asian movie in The Tomb tried to lure a monster into a trap? No? Go read my Garuda review. I’ll wait.

See? Yeah. Same thing happens here. Shit goes south faster than a racist Yankee after the Emancipation Proclamation. Just as Angel is about to see if her namesake(s) are real, guess who appears from nowhere to save her from being turned into street pizza? If you guessed anyone other than Sunny, you’re either too preoccupied to be reading this episode right now, or you’re just really really really shitty with names. Before the two heavies finally finish their feud in furious combat, Hao takes out both Mohawk and himself, using an urn filled with his beloved’s ashes to smash a light fixture and ignite a broken fuel line. An all too short-lived (no pun intended) exchange whose ultimate finale is predictable, sure, but I like Hao’s use of the urn…which probably contained more than a few leftovers from the station wagon’s ashtray mixed in with whatever he was able to salvage from Wah’s herself if you think about it.

Now for the big climax. Our final showdown is a fair mix of flashy martial arts punches and kicks, superhuman feats of tossed transportation (cars and trucks and such), both guys saving Angel from certain doom, a noble sacrifice or two, an effort to apply some last minute pathos to the villain, and a mandatory bit of the throwing knife dueling that started this whole rivalry, though not as much as you’d expect given all the hours/days/weeks of training Sunny pulled in the previous sequence. Speaking of, here’s a PSA for any fellow mutants out there: Don’t be like Chu. Take absolute care when it comes to protecting your lower back in any combat situation, as any perforation of the area has a high likelihood of causing your internal organs to violently detonate. I recommend investing in one of Lumpy Leroy’s Cast Iron Cummerbunds! Tell ’em Anubis sent you to get free shipping and $5 off your first order!

Good triumphs over evil, and just to make sure Benny Chan gets to tick off the final line of his “superhero movie tropes” checklist, Angel throws herself in front of one of Chu’s daggers to protect Sunny while he’s busy being a paragon of human decency and saving a family trapped in a flaming car. She survives though, and Sunny kills Chu, so the audience gets to go home on a high note. Such ends the ballad of Johnny Two Blades, errr, Twin-Dagger Sunny. Marge, is this a happy ending or a sad ending?

I opted to review CUS based entirely on the promise of “a circus clown gains super powers and has to fight his co-workers who have become super villains”. Little did I know that Sunny’s screen time in greasepaint would be relegated to his 5 minute introduction, thus abandoning the novelty almost immediately. Boooo. Points lost out of the gate for the misleading synopsis. Things don’t get much better from then on either. It’s not that this is a bad superhero movie. The problem is that Benny Chan tries so hard bending over backwards to emulate the Hollywood blockbuster comic book flick formula that he falls on his head and knackers himself, leaving us with one of the most generic by-the-numbers super movies I’ve ever seen.

If you and your riffmates are looking for a feature to play Genre Bingo with, CUS fills all the boxes in its category. Hapless hero? Check. Hero’s parents dead? Check. The villain is an associate from the hero’s personal life? Check. The hero’s crush falls in love with him shortly after getting to know him? Check. Said romantic interest is injured/killed during the final battle? Check. The villain’s given moments of sympathy so we’re supposed to regret his forthcoming death? Check. The hero wins his first fight, loses his second, then comes back to win in the end? Check. Pride and/or ego lead to the hero’s momentary downfall? Check. The hero overcomes his fall from grace by embracing the wise words of a mentor/father figure? Check. Training montage?! BINGO! BINGO! BINGOOOOO!

Yep. That’s my biggest beef with this movie: I’ve seen it all before. Chan tries something a little atypical of the Asian fantasy epics, but over does it on the Americanization stuff. I’m all for tweaking with the General Tso recipe, but not with heaps of ketchup. The computer generated shit’s not the best, but I don’t expect it to be from any movie born of an outside-of-Tinseltown budget. Consider my expectations tempered in that regard. Also, despite my general dislike for Sunny’s goofball demeanor (and those stupid hand motions he makes every time he refers to himself as “Twin-Daggers”), finally seeing him buckle down and become the mature good guy in the final act, despite being hackneyed, made me hate him a bit less. He’s still a heaping tub of chodeslaw though for putting that audience member’s life at risk in the beginning. Psycho. Angel’s only a smidgen further north on the moral compass, because she didn’t almost kill somebody with her fuckery. She did start her relationship with Sunny under the animus of hitching herself to his rising star though, looking out for her own best interests while also getting to stick it to her former employer for letting her go. Because again, she was being replaced by a younger, more attractive woman, the same way she herself ascended to the position in the first place!

As noted prior, Hao and Wah are my favorite part of this titular besieged metropolis. They’re cute without being overly saccharine. They’re equal parts business and pleasure without going too far to either end. Hao’s conceit leads to his greatest loss, but he earns his redemption by becoming the hero’s teacher, then gets his peace in the end, fulfilling his duty and joining his beloved in oblivion. Aces. Sadly, when your supporting cast is more endearing than your main characters, you’re doing something wrong, Benny. Write better.

I’m going to end this episode on the movie’s groaniest groan-inducer before I take off. Remember when I said I’d get back to my ire over the destruction of the Japanese army’s Malaysian Frankenstein lab? Yep. Although the attack on the lab comes from outside, a series of precisely laid out explosions erupt inside of the cave in a designated order. I’m not the type to think that anything is impossible. Highly improbable, of course, but not necessarily impossible…except this. Could the Chinese forces have infiltrated the lair the night before, laid out a bunch of C4, and simply been waiting for the right time to blow their load of shock & awe all over the faces of their enemies? Sure. Maybe. No. Never. Stop. I’ve included a little visual aid to illustrate this particular blister on my butt.

Our next two episodes will be features in name but not in length, so they shouldn’t take four months to finish. Keep your eyes peeled like the delicious delicious grapes they are for the first such installment in the next few days, with the other coming out Sunday-ish. Until then, this is the end. The only end, my friend. Always live your life like a flying dagger!

Moral of the Story: Don’t take for granted the love you have today, because you could lose it tomorrow. Also, acupuncturists are some of the most dangerous people on the planet!

Screenshots_____


But… if it’s “Universal”, how can it be “Limited”?


“GAH! I’VE HAD THAT FUCKING ‘CALL ME MAYBE’ SONG BURIED IN MY BRAIN FOR FOUR YEARS! FOR THE LOVE OF CRONENBERG, SOMEONE HIT ME WITH A SHOVEL AND DISLODGE IT!”


“Gacy Good Times International – introducing underage boys to crawlspaces the world over!” (Coulrophobics? I’m sorry. Coulrophiliacs? You’re welcome.)


So other countries have their own Criss Angel to suffer through? Kinda nice to know we in the US aren’t alone in suffering madoucheians.


“Your milk money or your life!”


“I know you’re hungry, but we can stop and get you some fresh clam strips. Those have been sitting under my seat for at least a week.”


“This is James Chang. James came out of a 10 year coma last week and has never seen ‘2 Girls 1 Cup’. We’re going to broadcast his reaction live, tonight on ‘60 Minutes‘.”


Looks like the next Wolverine movie will be based entirely on a version of the character found in those Chinese dollar store action figure sets. Maybe this will be the first step toward finally getting that Super Man Big Alliance team-up movie we’ve been begging Marble and CD Comiks for!


Up next in the Chinatown Burt Reynolds Look-a-like Pageant: Charlie “The Gator” Zhang!


If Beavis and Butthead taught us nothing else, it’s that nothing stops a nosebleed better than a tampon.


“I want to thank you for electing me your King Dingus for the season! I will do my best to uphold the honor of the position at the sacrifice of what little dignity I have left!”


Nice shades. If they look into each others’ eyes, will it create some kind of reality collapsing infinity loop?!


Hey! He stole Meg Griffin’s power to grow her fingernails long! Plagiarist!


“Well, you know we’re gonna end up in this 3-way eventually, so we might as well get it over with so we can make our car payment on time. Paper, Rock, Scissors for position?”


“I killed my stylist for dressing me in this stupid hat. Then I formed his face skin into my corsage!”


As much as I love Elizabeth Banks, this is what the new Rita Repulsa should look like!


Excedrin headache number 245 – You’ve been exposed to an experimental toxin and turned into a raging mutant. Your brain feels like its going to explode out of your skull, and simple aspirin won’t do the trick. You need Excedrin!… or a hole drilled in your head to release the evil spirits that are haunting you. Either one works, really.


Ever cried so hard that tears came out of your whole face? If not, you’ve never known real love. Congratulations.


This is why you never try to cuddle your pet porcupine.


“So you decided to turn the car we stole into your fiancee’s funeral pyre?”
“Yes…”
“Okay. Did you happen to look it over first to make sure there wasn’t anything else in there? I only ask because I can’t find my wallet…”


Hao’s DIY car crematorium was such a success that he decided to really up his game and turn it into a career! He’s in such demand now that he’s burning entire skyscrapers full of bodies every day!


Yes! Someone finally answered the Craigslist contract I put out on Justin Beiber! Guess I better get that $120 together. Time to turn in my bottles and cans.


I told Nosferatu not to feed on those professional bodybuilders, but at least he’s seeing some sick gains! What vampire needs the use of their testicles anyway?


The ages old geek query of “What if Venus De Milo (from the live-action Ninja Turtles show) fucked Killer Croc?” is finally answered.

———————————————————
———————————————————

Anubis will return next time in
“The Three People You Meet in Texas”

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 74 – Journey to the West (2013)

or “Monkey Shines”

Featuring: Zhang “The Guillotines” Wen , Qi “The Transporter” Shu , Bo “The Story of David” Huang

Directors: Stephen “Kung-Fu Hustle” Chow & Chin-kin “Full Strike” Kwok

Writers: Stephen “Kung-Fu Hustle” Chow , Chin-kin “Full Strike” Kwok , Xin “Kung-Fu Hustle” Huo , Yun “Darkness Bride” Wang , Chi Keung “Shaolin Soccer” Fung , Ivy “The Lion Roars” Kong , Zhengyu Lu & Shing-Cheung Lee

Origin: China

Also Known As: Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons

Review_____

“I never got scared by seeing anything till now…but I am waiting for that day.”

Happy New Year! Unless you’re a native of the country today’s movie calls home, in which case you should come back and read this again on our after February 8th when the Year of the Fire Monkey (appropriate for this flick) gets underway. But for the rest of youse mugs, welcome to 2016! It’ll probably suck like every year before and after it, but why not give it the benefit of the doubt, eh? As the banner above states, the World Tour de Farce has taken some ExtenZe. Despite some roadblocks in last year’s stretch of globetrotting, I’m determined to see it through to the end! If you’re getting sick of movies full of Asian people (you racist!), then you might wanna come back sometime around March. For the rest of you, return your tray tables to the upright position, buckle your belts, and join me on this journey…TO THE WEST!

…By which I mean we’re going East. Don’t over think it.

China! Considered the longest running civilization on Earth (dating back to 6000 BC), China led (not to be confused with Chinese lead, which they paint exported children’s toys with) the world in arts and science for centuries until political and civil unrest gave their overall progress a case of the stutters, killing millions of people. The crown jewel of the remaining Communist nations is home to the world’s largest populace (1,373,000,000+ or 1/5 of the planet’s occupants!), the world’s longest continually used written language, as well as home to the planet condemning toxic industrial pollution cloud that will surely one day spawn Hexxus, setting into motion the next global extinction event.

If you’re a big fan of firearms and the 4th of July, think twice about disparaging the Middle Kingdom, because they invented fireworks and gunpowder. I guess that means we can blame them for all of the US’s mass shootings too? For fuck’s sake, even our domestic terrorism has been outsourced! The next time you wanna take a shit on China, also remember to thank them mid squat since they made it possible for you to wipe your crack with something other than your hand after. Yep, they gave us toilet paper too. They’re also responsible for compasses, printing, and paper, all of which are obsolete so who cares. China invented kites, originally made to scare off invaders who thought the flying paper constructs were dragons and demons. When it came to fending off legit evil spirits (and natural disasters) though, Chinese royalty used to keep Pandas around. Oh, and a number of historians like to credit/blame the Chinese for inventing soccer/futbol. Other popular inventions to come from the nation’s history include chopsticks (duh), iced cream, noodles, earthquake detection methods (for when the Pandas didn’t cut the hot mustard), mechanical clocks, methods of drilling for and harnessing natural gas, the decimal system, the crossbow (for you Daryl Dixon fans), martial arts (you’re welcome, Chuck Norris), silk, tea, and mapping of the circulatory system (“Cut, cut, cut, blood, spurt, artery, murder, Hitchcock, Psycho!”) among a few thousand other things!

The country officially became The People’s Republic of China on October 1st (they share a birthday with The Tomb!) 1949 under the stranglehold of leader Mao Zedong, who kept his grip on the citizens firm and chokey until his death in 1979. A whopping 22% of their export trade washes up on US shores, as can be seen in every day of American life with all of the stuff that has “Made in China” stamped on it. Nothing says “CAPITALISM!” like buying all of our cheap shit products from slave labor Communist manufacturing conglomerates!

Vascular disease and cancer are their leading killers (like pretty much everywhere else), though their infamous one-child law (recently changed to a two-child law) will take the biggest toll on their population depletion in the long run, as so many of their female babies were infanticised or put up for adoption to couples from other nations. This has left a fatal shortage of ladies to birth further generations, but has been a blessing for people around the world who put “diagnosed with Yellow Fever” on their Adult Friend Finder profiles. I admire their singular spawn stance, but feel it doesn’t go far enough. My burgeoning city-state will have mandatory sterilization or, as it’ll be called in government documents, the “All Children Left Behind” Act.

Cricket fights (the insects, not the sport) are a popular pastime (a new hobby for Michael Vick to consider) but stamp collecting is their most well liked way to waste time when they’re not making iPhones for a nickel an hour. Also, during the ’40s, Shanghai was the ONLY port in the entire world that accepted Jewish refugees without requiring an entry visa! This explains the ancient blood oath that sees Jews traditionally patronizing Chinese restaurants on Christmas. Oh, speaking of, the MSG engorged flavor orgies we stuff our faces with at the buffet? You know that stuff’s not actually Chinese in origin, right? Not even the fortune cookies. Those were invented in San Francisco.

Lastly, the highest grossing Chinese language film ever? That would be today’s movie!

Journey to the West isn’t so much based on the Chinese tale of the same name, as it is a prequel. Written 500 or so years ago (give or take), Journey to the West is considered one of “The Four Great Masterpieces” of the People’s Republic’s storied literary history. The other 3 are Water Margin, Dream of the Red Chamber, and Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Not to be confused with the four greatest literary masterpieces of the USA, which are The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Moby Dick, The Godfather, and the novelization of Adventures In Dinosaur City. Not just popular in it’s fatherland, Journey has been a HEAVY influence on a lot of different Asian productions, especially in the last 50 years. Hell, just type in “Journey to the West” on IMDB and you’ll get a good idea of how much influence it has! These include the original “Dragonball” series from Japan and the critically acclaimed (and commercially flaccid) video game Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, which I played about half of before being distracted by something with zombies in it.

Much like Hollywood, China’s movie industry is apparently guilty of the always irritating “they made a movie based on this, so we need to a movie based on it too!” mentality, as one year after Journey to the West, another such influenced flick (starring Donnie Yen and Chow Yun Fat) made its way to the light of the silver screen, called The Monkey King. Where that movie (series) is more about filling in the backstory of the eponymous primate, Journey‘s focus (aside from trying to convince us to “don’t stop believing”) is on the original story’s Buddhist monk protagonist, Tang Sanzang…under the name Xuan Zang?

Yep. Due to various translations across different languages, “Tang Sanzang” has a few dozen different acceptable aliases. I’m not a fucking etymologist, so if you wanna know more (and you generally trust Wikipedia), you can read aboot it >>>here<<< Or just do what I do in these situations: don’t ask questions, go along with it, and hope you’re not being kidnapped for a ransom no one is willing to pay. And that’s the story of why Uncle Anubis isn’t invited to make hand turkey drawings at Thanksgiving anymore. It makes everybody sad. I have to wear gloves so children don’t stare at me in public…

Xuan Zang (Zhang Wen) is a Buddhist monk and aspiring demon hunter. Not in the game for the glory, the money, the pussy, or the dehydrated fish, Xuan simply wants to help people by exorcising the forces of darkness from their lives. While other such hunters rely on an array of mystical artifacts and religious tools of the trade, Xuan’s weapon of choice is… *pause for dramatic effect* …a book of nursery rhymes. *pause for slide whistle “goodbye boner” sound effect*

Yes, Xuan is so faithful to the teachings of his Buddhist Master (Sihan Cheng) that he values the existence of even these dangerous, man-eating horror shows as being sacred. #DemonLivesMatter Demons in this context aren’t the same as their Western cousins. Rather than being twisted hellbeasts from conception, the Eastern demons are humans, brought back from the dead and transformed into monstrous animals by their lust for vengeance against the dickholes who wronged them in life. In keeping with that, Xuan opts to appeal to their inner purity (we’re all born innocent, after all) via capturing them and singing them lullabies to reignite the light hidden in their darkness. The spiritual equivalent of trying to find a peanut M&M in a bathtub full of black licorice jellybeans.

Gimme a second to tamp down the chunder geyser summoned by my amalgamating the words “black” and “licorice”. Uggh. Shit’s nastier than fish liver lollipops.

The problem with singing to demons to make them stop eating children and cutting people in half is that it generally doesn’t get the job done, so Xuan’s not the most successful demon hunter in the land. In fact, he’s the least successful. He’s openly mocked by his peers (and not just because he dresses like a filthy beggar with Ablutophobia), assaulted by ignorant mobs of civilians who really overreact when someone disagrees with them, and questions whether he’s a worthy disciple to his Master, who continually reassures Xuan that he is a great demon hunter. He’s just lacking that archetypal “je ne sais quoi” that most heroes pick up around the mid-to-end of their origin story. He needs his (speaking of French stuff) Voltaire quote as recited to him by a father figure named after a food mascot before said father figure’s tragic death as a result of the hero’s selfish negligence. Or, maybe he’ll luck out and a giant fruit bat will just fly into his face one dark and stormy night, after which he’ll don a cape & cowl and fight the monsters with little metal versions of his corporate logo and incoherent growling.

It’s on one on Xuan’s failed missions that our hero meets the far more accomplished hunter Duan (Qi Shu). Even though she laughs when he tells her about his Mother Goose methods of exorcism, she turns from sarcastic rival to romantic interest almost instantly, admiring the monk’s suicidal levels of bravery to battle beastly bad guys with just his brains, his beliefs, and his berceuses. You’d think she was Pepé Le Pew on Viagra and he was a 3-legged black cat with a streak of white paint down his back the way she Swimfans our man! She will have his babies by hook or crook (or crooked hooker?). Duan’s so infatuated with getting Xuan’s dick wet, she even follows him to the (Wild Wild) West when Master sends him to seek demon combat experience from a legendary figure known as Sun Wukong – the Monkey King (Bo Huang). As per my spoiler avoision vows (and given that this is one of the few movies on the Tour that you can currently stream on NetFlix), I will leave it up to you whether you choose to delve further into the tale or not.

Though I had a fun time watching Journey to the West, it made me realize that Stephen Chow is basically the Guy Ritchie of Chinese cinema – his movies are good, but are so similar in structure that you’d swear one or two of them were just Chinese knock-offs… or whatever the equal to a Chinese knock-off of an originally Chinese made product would be. Did you see Kung-Fu Hustle or Shaolin Soccer? Yes? Then you’ve already seen Journey to the West. A hapless, shabby hero with a good heart gets himself in over his head with deadly forces that will surely kill him in the final act if he doesn’t discover the inner strength needed to overcome his own self-imposed limitations. There’s an awkward romance, super powered martial arts weirdos (with at least one of them being an elderly person) who can explode buildings with a punch, peace & love vanquishing evil, slapstick combat with cartoony violence that leads to characters’ features being stretched like rubber (and making squeaky chew toy sounds in this case), and thinly-veiled morality stuff about not letting your ego defeat you, listening to your heart, helping people being its own reward, the best offense being a good defense, the only certainties are death & taxes, no glove no love, you can’t win friends with salad, and all that other Aesop shit meant to brainwash kids into towing the company line. Stupid kids. So easy to brainwash. I hate you so.

I’m not saying any of this is bad. There’s a comfort in predictability. Chow’s movies are always good for some dumb, well-choreographed fun and the characters are always interesting and comical in their own ways. Xuan makes for a perfectly fine Rudy Ruettiger “loveable failure” hero, Duan is an endearingly awkward tomboy-in-love, Master is a jolly and supportive father figure, Sun is a wily little old con artist, and all of the ancillary hunter characters are fun for their own reasons too. The actors all put on fine performances, despite my having no fucking clue what they were saying. Their mannerisms and body languages carried it. Especially Chrissie Chow, whose overwhelming sex appeal as Si demands that her more sultry scenes be cut into a “spank edit”. Sure, there aren’t a lot of said scenes, but just cut her dancing and grinding into a looping 3 minute clip and I’ve got what I need! *wink*wink*wank*wank*

On the scarred side of this double-headed quarter, Chow’s pacing continues to be a little bumpy. It takes a smoke break near the middle of the movie that elicited a few yawns from me and made the final act feel a little rushed for time. Then again, given the “epic but simultaneously anti-epic” fashion in which the final showdown plays out, it may have ended all the same even if given five more minutes. His special effects budgets never quite catch up with his imagination either. The demons here aren’t perfect, but at least they’re not born of the bottom of the computer generated monster barrel where the SyFy Originals skulk. I’d like to see someone with some pull here in the States give Chow a big fat Hollywood budget like Disney did when they put James Gunn in the captain’s seat for Guardians of the Galaxy. I think we’d get something equally full of heart and wowwy-zowwy sauce.

Chow started filming the follow-up for Journey (someday love will find you) last August, touting a cast listing that may include Chow himself, but has apparently not confirmed any of the first movie’s players making a return. This is older info, so fuck knows how things have progressed since, fuck nose. I look forward to seeing said sequel when it’s settled, whatever the case. Partially because I look forward to another Stephen Chow feature, and partially out of curiosity because I want to see if he changes up his formula yet or just goes continues riding in the same limo that brought him to the dance.

Here’s a bit of trivia for you before we part ways down the crossroads of our days. This isn’t Stephen Chow’s first interaction with an adaptation-of-sorts for Journey to the West. In 1995, he starred in a two-part feature called A Chinese Odyssey, where he played the fabled Monkey King himself, as well as a reincarnated version named Joker! The performance nabbed him a Best Actor award from the Hong Kong Film Critics Society, which has to carry at least some prestige with it, right? I mean, anyone who refers to themselves as a “society” has to be a respectable association, correct?

That’s all for this week! Hope everybody’s 2016 is exponentially better than their 2015 (even if you had a good 2015, because things could always be better) and that the “MST3K” reboot is as awesome as we’re all praying to Prince of Space that it will be. The World Tour continues with our next episode, same Tomb time, same Tomb channel!… provided I don’t get too wrapped up blitzkrieging the teeming zombie masses in Dead Rising 3 or getting embarrassed by 10 year old aspiring Planeswalkers in Magic Origins (Xbox Live tag: TombOfAnubis). Until then, make peace with your gods, you smelly dogs!

Moral of the Story: Sometimes the most peaceful of protests can hit your persecutor like the fist of an angry god… and sometimes it can hit them with the fist of an angry god.

Screenshots_____

“I can’t wait till mom finds out I replaced all of her birth control pills with Tic-Tacs! I’ll have a little brother one way or another!”


Either somebody just got Jaws’ed or someone went swimming without checking her menstrual tracker app first.


“And Saint Atila raised the hand grenade up on high saying, ‘Oh, Lord, bless this thy hand grenade that with it thou mayest blow thy enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy.’”


Gah! He’s Dopey from the Seven Dwarfs as one of those “cartoon character drawn hyper-realistically” pictures brought to life!


So Chinese guys can grow hair on their heads and their faces, but not a single follicle on their chests? They look like big man-babies. Creepy.


[Peter Griffin voice:] “It’s Jackie Chan!”


Big Edna just found out the cake is a lie… she’s not happy.


[Mr. Burns voice:] “Mattingly! I thought I told you to trim those sideburns! Thats it, you’re off the team, for good!”


How every patient sees a Proctologist when the probing gloves comes on…


Look out, guys! It’s the vengeful spirit of women whose serious boyfriends won’t propose to them! Run!


“Ahhh! Butthead! I’m bleeding! My nose is still bleeding!”


Are anybody else’s pants shrinking/getting wet, or is it just mine?


“My parents told me the angry pig god would hunt me down if I ate an entire package of bacon by myself! Why didn’t I listen?!”


It’s not the size that counts, it’s how you use it!


…Then again, I guess size does play some importance.


“I told you, I’m not a ghost, I just a vegan. And even if I were a ghost, I couldn’t grant you any wishes! That’s a genie!”


“You can watch me deep throat this whole banana for a dollar! For a fiver, I’ll deep throat something else…”


“Thank you mister crackhead, but I don’t have any money to pay you for this. It also smells. REALLY bad.”


A rare picture of Corey Haim in his final days. Hugs not drugs, kids.

———————————————————
———————————————————

Anubis will return next time in
“Heads on Pianos: Return of the Black Gift”

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 72 – A Christmas Horror Story (2015)

or “Tales From the Cryptsmas”

Featuring: William “Star Trek” Shatner , George “The Case for Christmas” Buza , Zoe “Orphan Black” De Grand Maison

Directors: Grant “Ginger Snaps Back: the Beginning” Harvey , Brett “Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed” Sullivan & Steve Hoban

Writers: Doug “Splice” Taylor , Pascal “Hellions” Trottier , James “Roxy Hunter and the Secret of the Shaman” Kee & Sarah Larsen

Origin: Canada

Also Known As: A Holiday Horror Story (name changed for the DVD sleeve only, so the movie could be sold in some Wal-Mart stores. No diggity.)

Review_____

“Look at this place. It’s like Paul Bunyan and Count Dracula gayed up and built a dream home.”

‘Twas the night before Cthulhumas and, alone in The Tomb,
Anubis was reviewing, despite having other shit to do.

I hate buying presents for people. Ra is being a real dickhead this year. Every time I ask him what he wants for Cthulhumas, the fuckstick just keeps telling me he wants a life-sized butter sculpture of Lou Ferrigno from the Golan-Globus Hercules movie. Do you know how hard it is to find a sculptor that works in the dairy medium this time of year!? If my situation were the line from a theoretical Weird Al Yankovic parody of a Pearl Jam song, I’d say I “can’t find a butter man”… and yes, I made all of this up just so I could say that. Lick me.

Go ahead! I used peppermint body wash this morning!

I mentioned in the last episode that Krampus is the 2015 holiday season’s monster-of-the-moment. As I may have also mentioned (the last week has been a whiskey nog haze), go see Legendary Pictures’ Krampus, in theaters now! Hurry before it gets bumped for the next “found footage” ghost movie in the “garbage I wouldn’t piss on were it aflame” queue. Speaking of Krampus, guess who’s featured in today’s anthological episode? If you said Krampus, you win! Get yourself a Gingerdead cookie and a shot of Milk Plus from Uncle Anubis’ padlocked mini-fridge (the key is behind the goat skull in the kitchen), then get back here, sit your ass in front of the fireplace (or in the fireplace, if you like), and let’s engage in another round of Yuletide tales.

As a disclaimer, despite what possibilities the title of this movie may invoke, it is neither an “American Horror Story” Christmas special, nor the blood & gore sequel to A Christmas Story directed by John Carl Buechler where Ralphie, dressed in his pink bunny pajamas, hunts down every adult who told him he’d shoot his eye out, then proceeds to gouge out their eyes with an ice cream scoop. I asked Annual Gift Giving Man for it last Non-Denominational Gift Exchange Day, and no dice. Not the first time I’ve been fucked by the big rubber dick of disappointment (also known as “the Festivus Pole” in some circles), and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

What is A Christmas Horror Story aboot? Well, hosers, this gift from our neighbors to the North stars noted starship Captain and Hollywood Hebrew, Billy “Rock-et MAN!” Shatner, as radio disc jockey Dangerous Dan. Not to be confused with ’80s WWF personality Dangerous Danny Davis, whose gimmick was that of a crooked referee who also wrestled. You know he was dangerous because he had the word “Dangerous” printed on the ass of his tights, and you can’t print something across the ass of your pants if it’s not true! Like those “Juicy” pants big ass girls wear. Much like juice, they’re best when freshly squeezed too. *wink*wink*nudge*nudge*


(Squeeze at your own risk.)

Double D does a Pontypool and spends his time on camera in the broadcaster’s booth for the extent of the feature. While he’s dead set on spreading holiday cheer amid the citizens of his town of Bailey Downs (his listeners and coworkers of which don’t seem all that receptive to his efforts), we the viewers are taken on a quartet of intermingling tales in the interim. Not “intermingling” by means of plot, though, but rather in that we fumble in and out of each story at the editor’s tyrannical whim. We are merely puppets and A Christmas Horror Story is the string by which he makes his marionettes dance. “PULL DA STRINK! PULL DA STRINK!”

Our first yarn follows a trio of high school kids: Dylan (Shannon Kook), Molly (Zoé De Grand Maison, whose name literally means “Zoe of the Big House” and who looks like a poor man’s Emma Stone), and Ben (Alex Ozerov). Attempting to catch the receding “found footage” wave before it goes back out to sea for another 5 or 6 year hiatus, the trio sneak into Bailey Downs High to do some hard boiled “Action News for Kids” investigating into a mysterious double homicide that took place in the building’s labyrinthine basement the year before. Having reviewed the leaked footage from the police investigation (because they don’t accidentally erase their evidence, CHICAGO PD!), they know something more than a simple dual murder took place in the darkened halls beneath their teenage prison, and they aim to find out what. As is the way in scare flicks they get locked in (possibly by the killer, returning to the scene?), discover the school’s morbid history, are confronted with the awful truth about the ritualistic murders, yadda yadda yadda. If you want to find out said awful truth yourself, feel free to watch the movie or “Read the Bantam book!”

Do they still novelize/bookify movies anymore? Given there are more platforms to watch stuff on nowadays than there are heads on a Hydra after you put it through an industrial blender, I can’t really see the rationalization behind sustaining such a market. It’s not like the old days when you had to wait two years for Dawn of the Dead to come out on Betamax, so you re-read your St. Martin’s copy cover-to-cover a few dozen times while you waited! By Rudolph’s radioactive nasal beacon, I had a screener copy of The Green Inferno a week before it left the local multiplex, and I ain’t talkin’ Transformers! Besides, that was Metroplex. Though I would enjoy the irony of Michael Bay making a Decepticon character that’s just a huge cinemaplex who crushes all of the moviegoers inside of it whenever it transforms. Then again, subtlety got a restraining order placed on Michael Bay years ago, so never mind. He’d just fuck it up like everything else and forcibly remove the joy from a few thousand more people. He’s Hollywood’s metaphorical on-par for Nazi stormtroopers dragging Jewish children away from their parents’ arms so their tiny hands could be put to use working in Hugo Boss’s sweatshops.

Story numero dos involves another trio: Scott (Adrian Holmes, who’s a dead ringer for Mike Yard and Taye Diggs’ love child), Kim (Oluniké Adeliyi), and Will (Orion John). Unlike our last amitié à trois, this trio keeps it in the family – Scott and Kim are Will’s parents. Despite being a cop, Scott takes his mini-brood Christmas tree hunting on private property,which reminds me fondly of my own illustrious annual “trail of tears” death march to commit our own act of ornamental herbicide. Will wanders off and goes missing, bur he’s found safe and sound one short and panicked search later. The family then heads home with their purloined pine, a little unsettled but none the worse for wear… except for Will, who starts acting really weird and creepy and shit. Scott gets sick of this crap quick, but his old-fashioned approach of parenting with his pants holder-upper doesn’t quite do the trick. “Big Earl” (Allen Peterson), the owner of the property from which the family misappropriated their O Tannenbaum may have an idea of what’s up with the lad, but Will could just be getting a head start on being a rebellious teenage dickhead. But that’s more a case for an episode of “Degrassi Junior High” than a horror movie, eh? As such, I wouldn’t bet my roasting chestnuts on it.

The third chapter in our movie’s table of contents finally gets things Kramp-ing! Upping the ante by a head, this story follows a quartet of characters: Caprice (Amy Forsyth, Kirsten Dunst’s non-union Canadian equivalent), Duncan (Percy Hynes-White), Diane (Michelle Noldan), and Taylor (Jeff Clarke). Diane and Taylor are the parents here, Caprice is their teenage daughter, and Duncan is just as much a junior a-hole as you’d expect a kid named “Duncan” to be. The four visit Taylor’s Aunt Edda (Corrine Conley) for some mandatory holiday tidings of comfort and joy (mostly to suck up to the wealthy old crone), and meet her grinchy German caretaker Gerhardt (perpetual “background weirdo #2”, Julian Richings). Krampus gets name dropped like he’s going out-of-style and Gerhardt warns them to be good, lest the bastard child of Lucifer and a Likitung come get them. Naturally, this is the perfect time for Dunc to intentionally break a decorative figurine of said yuletide disciplinarian because, again, kids named Duncan are ornery little shit bags.

Following the brat’s brazen act of dickery, Edda throws a fit and kicks the clan out. As they’re driving home, Dad swerves to avoid a yeti looking creature (maybe it’s a shaved Wampa) that runs across their path, and spins the car out into some deep snow. Unable to get anywhere (hence why I keep a shovel, extra floor mats, and full grown Saint Bernard in my trunk) the four are left to brave a winter wonderland in the middle of nowhere as they seek help…with a certain holiday hellraiser hot on their haunches. Much like his fellow film incarnations, don’t expect this version of the Saturnalian satyr to stop at some simple season’s beatings with a few well-deserved lashings across these douche bags’ backsides. No, he’s eyeing more permanent forms of punishment that utilize the type of excessive force that would give the ’90s LAPD envy boners. #BlackPeteLivesMatter

Our feature’s fourth fable follows the red man himself. No, not the racist mascot of Red Man chewing tobacco. I of course refer to Satan. Errr, Santa (George Buza). You know what I meant, Church Lady. Anyway, the bowl full of jelly is preparing for his solitary day of employment for the year, before having to spend the next eleven months getting shit from Mrs. Claus (Debra McCabe, playing a much younger Mrs. C than you’d expect, cuz Santa’s apparently an old perv) about how he needs to do something with his life beyond watching Mexican elf soap operas from his La-Z-Boy all day and adding to his collection of bed sores. While his vertically challenged minions go aboot their business, prepping toys for the big night, one of Klaus’s helpers, Shiny (Ken Hall) comes down with an odd and sudden illness that gives the little goober Tourette’s. “I said I don’t want a cookie, you reindeer fucking snow whore!”

Before you can say “28 Days Later at the North Pole”, the frost-bitten Oompa Loompas (who stole their uniforms from the “sandwich artists” at Subway) become infected and revolt against their portly oppressor in a mob of gnashing, gore splashed teeth. If this were traditional Santa Claus, as owned by the Coca-Cola Corporation, he’d be dead and clogging the minute cannibals’ arteries within moments. To help give He of the Merry Dimples and Twinkling Eyes an edge on the zombie mob, we get a bad-ass holiday icon who looks like he’d be more comfortable driving a Harley-Davidson than a sleigh, complete with Mrs. Claus riding the sissy bar wearing nothing but cut-off jean shorts, leather boots, and nipple rings.

When the shit starts to go down in the jolly old elf’s castle (the interior of which looks remarkably like affordable office space…), Kringle theorizes that Krampus must be responsible for whatever bad juju is turning his sweatshoppers into heart stoppers, so for those wondering whether the promised clash of Yule pugilists portrayed on the movie’s poster actually comes to fruition, the answer is – sorta. As has become a common theme in some of the other movies I’ve recently reviewed, A Christmas Horror Story (just like the Six Million Dollar man’s replacement penis, fashioned from an old soft serve ice cream dispenser) comes with a twist. Unlike some of said others, this twist doesn’t inject acidic enzymes into the movie, break it down into a sumptuous primordial ooze, and consume it whole. No, this twist actually works well enough that I didn’t hate it. In fact, there’s very little I could say that I do hate about this movie in general!

The stories all take place on Christmas Eve Day and all connect with each other through shared characters. Mary mentions that she used to babysit Will, and Scott was one of the investigators on the high school murders. He went on leave afterward to deal with the resultant PTSD. Said trauma carries over to his own story as a point of contention for his relationship with his family. Caprice is a major catalyst in getting the first story going, as she brings her trio of friends the keys with which they break into the school. Even Santa’s tale comes back to the Bailey Downs city limits, but I can’t tell you how because it would spoil the surprise! No peeking!

My only major misgiving with the movie is its story structure. Unlike the traditional anthology one-at-a-time format, we instead jump back and forth between them chronologically as the day passes, while popping in on Dan occasionally to remind us that William Shatner stopped by to pick up a paycheck. Given that someone named Bev Feldman gets a credit as “teleprompter operator”, it doesn’t look like The Shat even bothered to learn what few lines he had.

Though I get the reasoning behind this mish-mash approach, the pace gets outright ravaged as a result. Just when you’re getting invested in any of the characters or their predicaments, you get thrown awkwardly back into another ensembles quandary. It’s a complicated dance that calls for precision, like Pulp Fiction. Instead we end up getting our toes stepped on every 10 minutes or so. I feel like I’d need ADHD to fully appreciate the flick as is.

The big gripe out of the way, my only minor misgivings with ACHS are a moment or two of unfortunately poor computer generated effects (thank Savini that almost all of the effects are practical) and the opening and ending credits theme of “Carol of the Bells” (thank you, public domain usage rights) as sung by what I can only presume to be a robot child. Fucking auto tune. Oh well, it’s still better than The Snots’ rendition of “Jingle Bells” that also plays at the end. Yep. The Snots.

Beyond those niggles though, I really liked this movie! The acting is all very solid with a few nice stand out moments of drama, especially from the ladies. The makeup, costumes and viscera are serviceable-to-admirable, and despite there being three different directors on the project, I wouldn’t have known the difference if I hadn’t read it ahead of time. Saying three directors’ styles are so generic that there’s little to distinguish them from each other may not sound like a compliment, but as the viewer it’s a good thing, because it lessens the turbulence of transitioning between plots. Krampus himself looks more like something out of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles “make your own mutant” fan contest than his traditional self, but the albino steroid man-goat look works for him. They even made use of his Gene Simmons shaming demonic lick muscle! Definitely better than the computer generated reject from an ’80s heavy metal album cover concept art that The Reckoning gave us, that’s for sure.

All in all, A Christmas Horror Story perverts holiday traditions with a blend of dark fables and personal horrors, mixing the mythological with the relatable. Stories aren’t long enough to outlive their welcome, but are just developed enough that you won’t be forgetting them a day after watching. Maybe I’m high on holly jolly and sugar plum fairy farts, or maybe after choking down the turd brisket that was Krampus: the Reckoning last time, even John Candy’s vintage ’94 back sweat (collected on the set of Wagons East) would taste like a candy cane martini in contrast! Either way, I declare this flick a fitting addition to anyone’s holiday horror rotation. Thanks, Canada! You’ll always be the greatest white North to me. May your days be merry and bright and may all your Cthulhumases be shiny with poutine and back bacon, from sea to shining sea!

Now come back tomorrow for a very special gift from me to you! It’s the bread box sized package under your tree that’s decorated in old newspapers and bio-hazard tape that you’ve been hearing a random *thump*ing sound from every night around midnight… No peeking!

Moral of the Story: STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM BAILEY DOWNS!

Screenshots_____

What’s with all the buckles, Santa? You going for that outdated “Steampunk” look? Or is one hernia belt just not cutting it for you these days?


Captain Kirk reacts to the news of yet another green chick filing a paternity suit against him. So much for alien and human DNA not being compatible!


Luke Cage’s new “edgier” catchphrase, as adjusted for his upcoming NetFlix series following the precedent set by “Jessica Jones”.


Kids will do anything to get a few hundred thousand video hits online these days. Who would’ve thought that YouTube would be such a catalyst for “survival of the fittest” forced evolution.


“Thanks for stopping, mister! My friends told me I’d never get anyone out here and, truth be told, you’re my first customer in three weeks! So, you lookin’ for a pumper, a sucker, a humper, or a dumper?”


“Welcome to Bailey High Action News! Today’s top stories – Principal Dickers arrested for alleged inappropriate relationships with several members of the girls’ field hockey team! Also, are the cafeteria’s hash browns just yesterday’s tater tots? Find out here!”


Jack’s wife finally broke the news to him about Santa Claus’s lack of existence. Poor little guy.


“I’m no doctor, Sparkles, but I’d say this is way worse than ‘just a hangnail’…”


“Hahaha! This tree reminds me of my wife after she gave natural birth to our triplets!… god rest her soul.”


A figurine of lesser-known saint, Sister Mary “Only Prays When People Are Looking” Gallagher.


I’ve seen messy eaters before, but that kid’s spaghetti dinner looks like a school of jellyfish exploded on his plate!


“Dangerous Grandpa” being the moniker given to him by the Bailey Downs Tribune following his vehicular manslaughter of 12 people at the weekly farmers’ market.


By far the worst actor in the whole movie. Her performance was just so… wooden. (Please don’t hit me!)


Looks like we walked in on them while they were comparing sizes… awkward.


From here it looks like he’s relieving himself inside one of The Tall Man’s dimensional gateways! Well, any port in a piss storm, right?


Timmy was determined to make sure that Santa didn’t miss him this year. “I know you can see me now, you fat bastard! Get down here and make with the presents!”


Looks like Krampus just caught a whiff of himself. I tell him he needs a full body heat drying after every shower, but he always thinks he can shake off and he’ll be fine. And he wonders why none of the other anthropomorphic creatures of folklore want to date him!


He looks like the type of Santa that would have “If you can read this, the bitch fell off!” stitched onto the back of his leather vest.

———————————————————
———————————————————

Anubis will return next time in
“Toys In Babeland”

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 70 – Pizza II: the Villa (2013)

or “Another ‘Slice of (After)Life’ Story”

Featuring: Ashok “Soodhu Kavvum” Selvan , Sanchita “Soodhu Kavvum” Shetty , Nasser “Fair Game

Writer & Director: Deepan Chakravarthy

Origin: India

Also Known As: The Villa

Sequel to: Pizza

Review_____

“I never got scared by seeing anything till now…but I am waiting for that day.”

Welcome back, boils and ghouls! I hope all of my fellow ugly Americans had a horrible Thanksgiving holiday and have my talons crossed that more than a few of you were unceremoniously trampled to death amid the fervor and fever of the following Black Friday Madness. I kid, of course, because if you’re reading this review, that means you’re hopefully the type of person I’d get along with, in which case I’m a well-wisher, in that I don’t wish you any specific harm. Where the Hel was I going with this? Meh. Fuck it. Moving on.

Rather than hitting our next stop on the World Tour, I opted for yet another side trip on the scenic route. I liked India’s Pizza enough that I wanted to see what its sequel had to offer. Besides, what better bread to use in a review sandwich where Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (see previous episode) is the meat than a pair of Pizzas? Yeah, there are more levels to my methods than there are floors in Elevator Action…or not. I honestly can’t recall how many floors there were in Elevator Action, so my boastful statement could very well be incorrect. I never should have said it in the first place. I’m sorry.

In something of a throwback to the glory days of ’80s bad movies like The Curse, P2 is a sequel that has no direct connection with its predecessor. Thematically, you could call it a spiritual successor (pun most assuredly intended) given the common subject of “Indian haunted house movie” and the inclusion of another (albeit less grandiose) Shyamalan-ed finale. But by Tom Turkey’s gizzard bag, there isn’t the slightest mention of pizza anywhere in the damn movie! Why even call it a Pizza sequel?! Oh wait, I know why: to cash in on name recognition. Well, congratulations Thirukumaran Entertainment. If nothing else, you managed to convince a middle-aged Beardo-American incarnation of the Egyptian Death God to watch your movie for free on YouTube. Thumbs up.

Technicalities aside, it’s business time! Let’s kick back, straw fuck a couple of those little boxes of Ecto Cooler you’ve been saving since 1993 (it’s comin’ back, ya know!), and take a tour of The Villa! Cue the music.

A brand new movie calls for a brand new cast. As such, our brand new hero is Jebin (Ashok Selvan). Jeb (not to be confused with Jeb! Bush – note the lack of an exclamation point) is a struggling writer locked in mortal combat with book publishers who don’t want to print his novel. He’s all about high brow drama and suspense and challenging his readers, while they just want Twilight rip-offs. In other words, rip-offs of a rip-off of Laurel K. Hamilton’s stuff, written by a bored Mormon housewife with latent necrophiliac tendencies. Did I say “latent”? I meant “blatant”. BLATANT NECROPHILIAC TENDENCIES. It’s only Stephanie Meyers’ interest in beastiality that’s latent, otherwise all the little girls and their moist mommies would’ve watched Kristin Stewart getting mounted on the big screen by the derp-faced werewolf instead of the derp-faced corpse.

“BLATANT NECROPHILIAC TENDENCIES”? Looks like someone just found a name for their free form jazz-oompah band!

To add to Jeb’s problems, his father Marshall (Nasser) died recently during a 6 month coma. Though he was a painter and a musician, pops never approved of his son’s aspiration to be a successful novelist, and scolded the poor guy for having dreams of choosing a creative career path for his life. Weird. Maybe Marshall’s mom left his dad for a copy of The Kama Sutra when he was a kid, so he spent the rest of his life blaming books for his dad’s resultant rampant alcoholism? Either way, Marshall’s dead now, so his lifelong literary nightmare is no more. As for Jeb, it turns out that his disapproving daddy bequeathed him a here-to-unknown piece of property upon which sets one spiffy-as-fuck mansion of a house (our titular abode). Not sure why he was never told about the place before now (smart money’s on bad juju), but this is a fortuitous bit of news for our lead, given that Marshall’s home has been repossessed to cover unpaid debts accrued by Jeb during a failed business venture. Note to self: next time I’m on the verge of being evicted, find out if any of my relatives have me on their will, then start poisoning said relative’s Cocoa Puffs until they do the Mortal Coil (Un)Shuffle.

Jeb intends to sell the villa and use the windfall to self-publish his novel. I hope he planned on taking a business course or doing some kind of test audience research first! Dreamers are always the ones hardest hit when they finally wake up in the real world with the rest of us. Anyway, his fiancee (and our new female lead) Aarthi (Sanchita Shetty) convinces Jeb to at least look the place over first and consider taking up residence in the estate while he continues the hunt for a publisher rather than taking the money and doing the proverbial run. After checking out the spacious pad, decorated with his father’s painting and housing his father’s beloved piano, Jeb opts to go along with Arth and move in instead. It doesn’t hurt that the lady tempts him with the idea of having their wedding in the place, with said matrimonial bliss portrayed via impromptu music video. Well, I guess that’s something else the two Pizzas share: a romantic musical interlude. Anyway, it’s too bad for the real estate agent Jeb asked about finding buyers, who’s peskily persistent about bringing said potential payers by anyway and trying to convince our hero to reconsider. Fuckin’ real estate agents. They’d resell peoples’ graves if churches hadn’t already monopolized the market.

Can churches really do that? Puck if I know. Look it up. You might be surprised. Or maybe you won’t be. Like I said, I don’t know if that’s a real thing or not. It definitely sounds like something churches would do. Hell, Mormons convert corpses posthumously, so there’s not a lot that organized religion can do that would surprise me anymore! I really miss the Old Kingdom days…



(Do you know how much Alpha Flight porn I came across while looking for this pic? More than zero. That’s too much!)

No sooner does Jpeg make the house his home, then strange happenings start up. Some good (a publisher buys his book and contracts him to write another!), some gruesome (a rotting dog carcass appears in his yard, seemingly from nowhere), and some Encyclopedia Brown (NOT a racist joke!) level shit too. Namely, a mysterious key, a Transformers painting (not literally, just in that it’s “more than meets the eye”), and a hidden room concealing a dark legacy that Marshall (and the house’s previous owners) left behind. The movie’s only a year old, so as usual we’re in the No Spoiler Zone (I hope you choke to death on your own scrotum, Bill O’Reilly) here and I won’t delve further into the plot past this period. You want to know the rest of the story? This ain’t “Reading Rainbow”, fuck-o! Go watch it yourself on YouTube or just ruin it yourself by reading the complete play-by-play on Wikipedia. I did that for Knock Knock and you know what? I don’t regret it. Especially since Eli Roth replied to my requests for a post-Green Inferno apology letter with a restraining order signed by his lawyer. Dick weasel.

And there you have it: Pizza 2. You know what? It’s good. Real good. Given that it’s the freshman effort for writer-director Chakravarthy, I’d go so far as to call it damn good! His setup and progression of the story is smoother and plenty suspenseful exactly where it’s most called for. The scene wherein Jeb finds the secret room is impressive, as his discovery is lit entirely by the ever passing beam of a nearby lighthouse and backed up with some appropriately foreboding music. You know, the kind of stuff that Satan puts on his hi-fi before impregnating hypnotized baby mamas-to-be. Speaking of, all of the music is perfectly good background stuff that fits the scenes nicely. Good on composer Santhosh Narayanan.

The cast is all good too. At least I think they are. I don’t speak Tamil, but everyone’s physical game was on form, from faces to body language to that weird head bob that Indian people do. Not to get too Seinfeld over it, but what is the deal with that head bob thing, anyway? Pardon me if the next part sounds like a “head up my own hole” art critic type of statement, but the villa itself is the real main character. Its interior breathes an atmosphere of something old, ornate, and ominous. The place has the feel of a warm antiquity with a heart of darkness. Something beautiful used to create some really fucked up, evil shit. Just like Dyanne Thorne!

If it’s so great though, why doesn’t it get the golden feather seal of approval? Sadly, there’s a really goofy Rube Goldberg sequence that makes the ones in the Final Destination movies look simpler than instant oatmeal. For an otherwise tense and dramatic flick, said scene of tumbling tables and acrobatic armoires is an out-of-place, unintentional laugh that was only put in to give the studio an excuse to charge audiences extra rupees for the 3D treatment. Coupled with the needless twist that hinders the final act more than helps it, and we get a pair of unfortunate potholes in an otherwise smooth road.

Villa isn’t perfect, but I think I like it better than its forerunner. Not that I didn’t like Pizza as a whole, but the last 4 minutes of it were the movie viewing equivalent of Jabba the Hutt sneezing on the last slice of a Chicago deep dish. Villa‘s finale, on the other hand, finishes out on a higher note. A twist ending was expected, so I went into it with zero surprise or fanfare, but at least this one doesn’t shit the bed. It’s a tad more predictable than the last one, but in that way where you feel smarter for having sussed it out yourself ahead of time rather than in that “Tales From the Crypt” bullshit “because karma” way.

There don’t seem to be any plans in place to extend this double feature out into a trilogy. At least not from what I was able to find on the worldwide wasteland. Not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but I do know that I’d like to see what kind of resumes either Chekravarthy or Karthik Subbaraj (writer-director of the original) establish for themselves following their forays into cinematic spook houses. I’d slaughter a goat in their honor, but that’s some pretty medieval cruelty by today’s standards. Instead, I’ll kill a few corned beef sliders from Arby’s. Yes! I discovered there are things on their menu that don’t make dumpster sludge look like a viable alternative for your mid-afternoon munchies! Not to be confused with Munchies, which is not a viable alternative to Gremlins, despite what Roger Corman would have you believe. That would be Critters. Or Ghoulies.

Well, that’s pretty much it for this episode! EDB will be happy, at least, being my editor and all. There are some things where women prefer less length on, folks. Happy 16th anniversary, dear! 😀

Moral of the Story: Always research your house for cases of occult activity before you sign the mortgage! You never know when your dream home might turn out to be the next Amityville Horror.

Screenshots_____

“Well? Are you just going to stand there watching me all night, or are you going to turn this tuning fork solo into a duet?!”


From the look on the other guy’s face, I’d say Jeb picked a pretty poor time to denounce his religion and all of its followers…


“We’re looking more for books about young women who let wealthy older men degrade them and put things in their butt for sexual fulfillment. Do you write anything like that, perhaps?”


“Seriously Diane? Why do all of your paintings have to be of famous people as centaurs? There’s something wrong with you.”


“For the last time, it’s a mole, NOT an M&M! Stop trying to pick at it!”


Jeez Greg, what did you do, get into a fist fight with your lunch?! You look like you got tea bagged by a Sloppy Joe! Go wash your face and get back to work!


“What duh ya mean ‘am I drunk’?! Thish ish MYYYYY wedding day! Not yoursh! MINE! If I wanna have shomeshing to drrrrink to settle MY nervesh on MYYYY wedding, I WILL! I’m an adult! Who are you, my dad!? No, I really *hiccup* don’t recognize you. Are you my dad?!”


If this were a SyFy Original movie, a giant computer generated platypus-sea urchin hybrid would come out of the water to eat these two before going off to fight Sharktopus.


That is easily the worst prop dog corpse I’ve seen since that episode of “The People’s Court” where the special effects guy sued the producer of a low budget movie because he wouldn’t pay him for the shitty prop dog corpse he made. It looks like an emaciated Pillow Pet!


“Oh mighty Lord Dagon! I ask you to rise from the depths and take my father’s life as sacrifice to the greatness of the Deep Ones!”
“Billy, why can’t you just throw a temper tantrum when I refuse to buy you ice cream, like a normal kid?”


Oh look! There IS a pizza in this movie! And they’re eating in a PitStop restaurant, like the one seen in the original Pizza! Specious justification of title successful!


“I’m sorry, Sir, but as the ad stated, the price for my son is 15,000 and not a rupee less!”


It’s the ghost of Santa Chewbacca!


“I call this piece, ‘Slender Man Takes a Bride’. It’s from my ‘Creepypasta Period’. The bidding starts at 15. Bitcoins only!”

———————————————————
———————————————————

Anubis will return next time in
“Santa’s Claws”

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 67 – The Condemned 2 (2015)

or “Snake’s On a Game (of Death)”

Featuring: Randy “12 Rounds 2” Orton , Eric “The Pope of Greenwich Village” Roberts , Steven Michael “Breaking Bad” Quezada

Director: Roel “The Man with the Iron Fists 2” Reiné

Writer: Alan “Halloween 4: the Return of Michael Myers” McElroy

Origin: USA

Sequel to: The Condemned

Review_____

“One man’s pain is another man’s profit. And the only way to ensure profit, is to be the one bringin’ the pain!”

Surprise! You thought you were going to get some more international flavor this week with a new “World Tour de Farce” review, but instead you’re getting yet another “professional wrestler thinks he’s an action movie leading man” flick in The Condemned 2! Again, we see there is nothing you possess that I cannot take away. Especially when I’m the one giving you said thing, and the actual transferal of possession has not yet been enacted! Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha *cough*cough*cough* HAAAA! *cough*

World Wrestling Entertainment gave us the original Condemned in 2007. It was like a grown-up, paramilitary, pirate internet version of Battle Royale. Or, a Running Man minus all the neon lights, gimmicked killers, and Richard Dawson. Being a WWE Films production, they cast one of their own as its star – former wrestling icon “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, not to be confused with “The Six-Million Dollar Man” Steve Austin (who, in turn, isn’t to be mistaken for “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase). Though it was a massive financial boondoggle to the company (their biggest cinematic money pit to date), most wrestling fans consider it to be one of, if not the best of the company’s movie offerings, so it makes sense that they’d eventually sequelize it.

Now, having made The Marine 4, Behind Enemy Lines 3, 12 Rounds 3, and See No Evil 2, The Condemned was the last guy in the power plant not to receive “Employee of the Month”. As WWE doesn’t employ inanimate carbon rods (they’re very careful about their hiring practices these days, since you never know when Linda McMahon might run for Senate again), it’s The Condemned‘s time to shine!…with Randy Orton as the lead. By the racist fucking skullet of Hulk Hogan, what did I do to deserve this?!

Randy Orton. Randy “STUPID!” Orton. Randy “Just do enough to get by” Orton. Randy “Shitbag who shits in bags” Orton. As he’s known in our household, Blandy Bore-ton. As the chaps at Old School Wrestling Review once described him, “oozing with banality”. In the wrestling world, he is the alpha and omega of douchebags. He’s a legacy (his grandpa and dad were both wrestlers), he’s a crony (he’s best friends with Paul “Triple H” Levesque, one of the heads of the company), he has a history of drug abuse (cocaine [Randy Snortin’], steroids and painkillers), had a dishonorable discharge from the US Marines for going AWOL (a fact that came up when veterans protested his casting as the title hero in The Marine 3) and he’s an outright asshole (including defecating in female wrestlers’ luggage and breaking character just to berate other wrestlers during matches). He also goes by the nickname of “The Viper” (hence this episode’s alternate title) and has a stupid tribal tattoo on his arm that he tried to cover up with another of a pile of skulls, but is fooling no one as the original is still prominent. What a fuckin’ knob. Enough of the miserable reality, let’s get to the miserable fantasy.

Will Tanner (Orton) is a bounty hunter. He leads a posse of similarly minded individuals in the pursuit of wayward criminals for fun and profit. The latest target of these roughneck rednecks is one sinister son of a cunt named Cyrus (Wes Studi – a.k.a. Sagat in the Street Fighter live-action movie!) who runs an underground gambling operation where sick fucks bet on disturbing shit like which homeless guy hooked up to a Kevorkian Express will shed their unwashed mortal coil first. In a fit of movie irony, Will tells his boys to keep it non-lethal (this a “Wanted: Dead or Alive minus the ‘Dead’ part” contract), only to manslaughter the crap outta Cyrus when the villain is impaled on one of his own death machines. Hmmmm, a double scoop of irony? I really shouldn’t. I’m on a diet.

This fight shows us right off the bat that our protagonist probably only won the leadership role because he picked the longest straw, as it clearly wasn’t for his intelligence or tactical wits. When he has Cy dead-to-rights and lined up in his sights, Willie makes the incredibly stupid move of getting within the bad man’s reach. From there it’s elementary for Cyrus to disarm the doofus and prompt the ensuing struggle. Guns are made to kill and/or maim from a distance. From. A. DISTANCE. Why in the names of Horace Fucking Smith and Daniel Fucking Wesson (weird how they both had the middle name “Fucking”) would you flush the entire advantage of having a firearm down the metaphorical shitter by getting so close to your still very upright target that you can smell whether or not he had onions on his Whopper for lunch?! And Tanner’s supposed to be a trained bounty hunter!? If anyone reading this happens to know Alan McElroy or Roel Reiné, would you please punch them in the dick for me? Hell, even if you know neither but still know someone else cursed with either of those names, kindly do the same. But don’t mention my name. I’ve got enough “conspiracy to commit bodily harm” charges pending as it is.

Due to his epic botch, six months later Tanner ends up on trial for manslaughter. Though the judge presiding over the case makes her disdain for bounty hunters known (if ya wanna chase bad guys, become a cop), she gives him a suspended sentence and probation. Remorseful for his actions (though you wouldn’t know it by Orton’s expressionless “acting”), Billy goes home to his dad Frank (Eric Roberts) to tell him that he’s quitting the family business. Ah, so Will only got the manager position for the posse through nepotism. That makes sense. Having spent the last 30 years building the Tanner brand as the number one name in independent ne’er-do-well nabbing contractors in ALL of lower mid-western New Mexico, Frank’s not happy about the fruit of his loin turning his back on the bond jumper biz over one little unintentional murder.

Their resulting argument is almost like that scene in Varsity Blues where James Van Der Beek shouts “I DON’T WANT YOUR LIFE!” at his dad, except the actors are twice as old and all of the passion and defiance is instead replaced with lazy, even toned sarcasm while a mood of “When do we get our paychecks, again?” hangs heavy in the atmosphere. Riveting stuff to watch…in that I’d rather have rivets fired directly into the sides of my skull than have to wade through another minute of this cinematic landfill.

By the way, for anyone wondering why I’d use such a classy arrangement of letters as “cinematic” in this review, it’s in no way because I find anything professional or artistic about The Condemned 2. I’m using it in the “having qualities characteristic of motion pictures” manner. Inasmuch as this movie has moving images and is thus, technically, a “motion picture”. Carry on.

Without the big bucks of the manhunting industry to keep him in Wrangler jeans and Ford trucks, Billy Bob takes on a new job as a tow truck driver to make ends meet. One of his first calls is a pair of young women in Daisy Dukes and crop tops (likely local models, friends of the cast/crew, or just hopefuls fresh off the casting couch) who giggle and whisper things to each other while he changes their tire. There’s no real implication of what it is they’re saying to each other, but I entertain myself on the possibility that they’re talking about how the guy changing their tire looks like he doesn’t have two brain cells to rub together, and they’re formulating a plan where in he’ll give them all of his money before he leaves or straight up Knock Knock him. Oh but to dream my dreamy dreams, with their creamy dreamy filling. Mmmmm, filling.

Our hero’s next service call changes his life forever, as it’s from his old bounty hunting pal…uhm… honestly, I didn’t bother to write down any of their names. They’re mas macho types who call each other by their last names (being on a first name basis is apparently too intimate for tough guys), and as such I remember the sniper’s (Dylan Kenin) name is Travis [like singer Randy] and another (Morse Bicknell) goes by “Michaels” [like Shawn]…uhm, the retired pro-wrestler, not the one-man Mandingo party porn actor. That’s Sean Michaels. In case you were wondering. Okay then.

Anyway, when Willie fixes said former co-hunter’s car (his battery connector just came undone…hint hint), the guy awkwardly invites him out for a beer in thanks. Unless this was just this dude’s way of trying to get Will out on a man-date with him to lube his inhibitions up with a few brews before confessing his long held secret romantic intentions for our leading man (only if he’s “leading” us straight to Nap Town), his nervous demeanor betrays that there’s some ulterior motive to this social exchange. Given that there’s also a camera equipped drone following the pair around, this is clearly our entry point (front door or back?) into the figurative Thunderdome that is to be The Condemned 2: the Search for Randy’s Personality.

Each member of the Tanner bounty party has been assigned to assassinate their erstwhile chieftain Will, lest their failure to comply be taken out in the form of ultra-violence against them and/or their loved ones. Meanwhile, a speakeasy of high rollers have gathered to watch the spectacle as they gamble on which of the contestants will be the one to finally finish off their deadpan prey. The troublemaker organizing this Laff-A-Lympics of death is Cyrus’s surviving sidekick-turned-avenger Raul (Steven Michael Quezada), who’s vowed a blood vendetta against his ex-boss’s bored looking butcher-by-circumstance. The rest of the movie is pretty much what you’d expect: Tanner runs around shooting guns at people, trying to save his neck while getting to the bottom of Raul’s game and doing his best to keep collateral fatalities to a minimum, as a good guy does. That’s pretty much it. Now you don’t need to see it for yourself, unless your medicine cabinet is pulling a “Mother Hubbard’s cupboard” and is barren of the sleep aid of your choice, in which case 20 minutes of The Condemned 2 will put you out in a pinch!

That wasn’t a joke. I’m serious. This movie put me to sleep during my first attempted viewthrough. Granted, that may have been my fault for starting it at 1AM after a long day of soul reaping and Underworld political crap (we had to fight management hard to get that break room back!) without any type of artificial ambition boosting my brain, but even sitting through the last twenty minutes the next morning were like going 5 rounds of bare-knuckle with Morpheus! For fuck’s sake, just writing this review right now is tantamount to drinking a tall glass of warm milk prepared by Bill Cosby. I have to keep deleting the *yawns* I’m unconsciously typing out in every paragraph!

Randy Orton speaks with such an eyelid burdening monotone. Terminators have more emotional resonance than this guy! As a former drug addict, maybe he’s on mood stabilizers or something and his complete charisma coma is medically induced? Wherever the true blame lies, the reality is still right there, dropping steaming dumplings in our figurative luggage: this man should NOT be starring in even the directest of direct-to-video action flicks. He’d be more relatable as the leading role in his own autopsy video than what he’s giving us here, and I’m not exaggerating. Was he contractually obligated to be in this movie by WWE and just did his best impression of a cardboard cutout so they’d never bother him about being in any more movies!? Z’Dar’s CHIN (my version of “Zeus’s BEARD!”), the man is the Typhoid Mary of digitally transmitted Narcolepsy! I have never, EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEVER (thank you, Chris Jericho) watched a movie with Eric Roberts in a supporting role and thought, “Wow, if he were the star, this movie would be so much better!”. If nothing else, The Condemned 2 has proven to me that anything is possible.

I’ve never seen any of Orton’s other movies, so I have no clue if this is how he tackles all of his roles. I do know that Quezada was never one to chew the scenery in “Breaking Bad” though, so maybe all of the blame should go on Mr. Reiné’s back? It could be another The Dark Knight situation where Chris Nolan made Chris Bale do the gravelly voice until all of Batman’s scenes were just a big joke and almost completely unwatchable. Either way, Orton should stay away from all future movie sets and just keep his shtick in the squared circle. Be happy with your athletic prowess and leave the acting to the actors. Or Eric Roberts.

The rest of the movie is just as sterile as its star’s performance. The camera work is fumbly (I think it’s supposed to be shaky cam, but as directed by a 10 year old), the overall direction feels like a slog through plain oatmeal from Point A to Point B with zero spices or fruit thrown in. The rest of the cast’s acting ranges from “good enough” to “please just shut up already”, the fight choreography is slow and sloppy (great for a blowjob, not for a fight scene) despite the attempts to cover it up by jostling the camera around while they’re happening. The music has to be some of the most generic background crap I’ve ever heard. This entire feature was just a poorly planned shit show from opening credits to end credits. It’s not even bad from a fun-to-mock standpoint. The moderate production values keep it from being a full blown skid mark, but that’s as good as it gets. Forgettable and regrettable.

There’s one unintentional running joke I’d like to end this on though, to make the writing of this review and your reading of it at least somewhat worthwhile. As mentioned prior, like any copy-and-paste paramilitary group, Tanner’s team-turned-tormentors has one member who’s a skilled sniper. In case you forgot already (and I don’t blame you), his name is Travis. Well, Travis is supposed to be a skilled sniper, but he’s not. The credo of the sniper is “one shot, one kill”, denoting that their job is to kill with surgical precision, needing only one bullet to put down their intended target. Throughout his time stalking Tanner, Travis fires 30+ rounds from his rifle (not including the 60 or more fired from his uzi) and manages to kill…well, let’s just say the spoiler free version of his murder math is something far far FAR (like “a galaxy far far away” far!) less accurate than the gold standard. If I gave my 80 year old grandmother a single-shot rifle with 30 rounds of ammunition, put her inside Dorothy Gale’s house while it was caught in the twister that carried it to Oz, took away her glasses and tasked her with shooting half a dozen Munchkins also thrown into the cyclone, I guarantee you her fatalities-to-rounds fired ratio would put this Travis guy into a shame spiral so deep that he’d need a grappling hook and half a mile of rope to pull himself out of it!

Whew! I’m winded just reading that last sentence. I need to lay down and catch my breath after this. By the beers of Billy Carter, I’m too Murtaugh for this shit.

Even when he’s pulling a “spray and pray” with his uzi, Travis still manages to miss his targets! He has no problem perfectly strafing his shots in an almost impossibly narrow line along the top of a fruit and veggie stand (sending fragments of splattered produce into the air), but hitting the trio of full grown adults scuttling in an orderly fashion directly behind said stand is just impossible for this fucking career marksman to hit. My rage over this, combined with my need to count the amount of ammo this guy burned through to such minimal effect, are pretty much all I had to keep me from giving out on my second viewing. When you’re on the Titanic, the best you can do is grab whatever flotation device you can and hope you get back to shore before the bitter death grip of Mother Nature can drag you down into her frigid black oblivion. I think my metaphor got a little out of hand there, but the initial message is still in there somewhere. I’ll leave it up to you to exhume it.

Okay, that’s enough of that. Bottom line: the truly condemned in The Condemned 2 are the people who pay for this movie. As for me? I’m going to see if I can discover a way to distill its essence and market it as a cure for insomnia! Provided I can withstand extended exposure to its background radiation….long enough…to……….stay…awake………… *zzzzzzzzzzzzzz*

Moral of the Story: *YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWN* Huh? What are you still doing here? There’s cab fare on the nightstand and $20 for breakfast. You can keep the change if you go away right now. Don’t call me. Goodbye.

Screenshots_____

That thing should come with a Surgeon General’s Warning.


Elderly people hooked up to suicide machines against their will while non-white criminals gamble on which dies first? I’m not sure if this was taken from the movie or a 2013 Faux News report about ObamaCare.


This profile leaves out the “Zach Galifianakis impersonator available for private parties on weekends” part of Mr. Cooper’s resume.


This photo was taken of Mr. Merrick after the sandwich shop regretfully informed him that they were all out of jalapeno cream cheese for his cheddar bagel. Sorry Cyrus, early bird gets the jalapenos!


“I have you, a man armed with a knife, at a great disadvantage due to my possession of a firearm! Though I should be forcing you to the ground so one of my partners can restrain you, allow me to approach you until I’m well within range of your knife, giving you ample opportunity to disarm me and put my life in immediate danger!”


Don’t get your hopes up, like I did. This isn’t the moment where the whole movie turns into a surprise sequel to Maximum Overdrive and we see Randy Orton run over by a pissed off truck. “When you wish upon a star” my hairy ebon ass!


“You just sit back and watch how a real actor carries a low budget action movie, Junior.”


“You think if we flirt with the tow truck driver he won’t charge us?”
“Duh! Why else would we dress like this!?”


This is what happens when people don’t respect the “my quarter on the table means I get next game” rule!


“I was a supporting character in one of the most critically acclaimed television shows of all time! Don’t you dare mock me for chewing scenery in one crappy movie! I’ve earned a pass on this one!”


Ever since “Breaking Bad”, wanna-be meth cooks have caused staggering rate increases in the “mobile home explosion” insurance industry over the last few years.


Awww, it’s so cute when rednecks watch car movies and try to emulate them. I see somebody finally rented Fury Road from the Red Box kiosk at their nearest WalMart!


Hanukkah casino parties are becoming a popular trend for the kids at the synagogues these days. Let that gelt ride, bubbale!

———————————————————
———————————————————

Anubis will return next time in
“Life of Pi(e)”

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.