Featuring: Hiroki “Attack on Titan” Hasegawa , Satomi “Attack on Titan” Ishihara , Yutaka “Oba: the Last Samurai” Takenouchi
Directors: Hideaki “Neon Genesis Evangelion” Anno & Shinji “Attack on Titan” Higuchi
Writer: Hideaki “Neon Genesis Evangelion” Anno
Also Known As: Shin Godzilla
(Author’s note: This review was intended for post in December 2015, so rewind your brains a few weeks to experience the proper mindset.)
Last year, for the International Congress of United Pantheons (I.C.U.P.)’s Non-Denominational Gift Exchange Caucus, I requested of my Mystery Mandatory Present Provider “an enigma box containing the forbidden knowledge of The Inferno”. What I got was a tin full of “Friends” trivia cards… I could solve a dozen Lament Configurations before I could tell you the name of Chandler’s fucking MONKEY! As per the ancient edicts of the ceremony, it’s sacrilege to reveal whose MMPP is whose, but I’d bet my life-size die cast replica of Stuntman Mike’s Charger that it was one of those smart ass trickster god pricks. Probably Loki or Coyote or, speaking of monkeys, Sun Wukong. Flea-bitten chimp. Every year he does that stupid gag where he ties a set of jingle bells around his tail, sticks it between his legs, and dances around singing his dirty version of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” like he hasn’t done it every year for the last six centuries. Fucking headache. Could somebody grab me a fistful of Anacin? My thanks.
Regardless of the culprit, I’m already prepared for the first season of “Fuller House” on Blu-ray (You can’t have a “Fuller” house! It’s already FULL, for James K. Fuck’s sake!) or some such shit to be my surprise this year, so I opted to indulge my sweet tooth and treated myself. After pulling a few strings, sacrificing a few Charles Band DVDs during the last full moon (*PUN!*) and calling in a “favor” from my import guy (your family will be returned to you unharmed in time for Hanukkah, Ishmael-san), I wrangled a bootleg of today’s feature! Pa rum pum pum pum, motherfuckers.
For you number nerds out there in the worldwide wasteland, you’ll notice that today’s episode is 95 rather than 93. Well, the movie I was writing up for the finale of Turkey Day Month 2016 was so mind scaldingly terrible that it gave me mental food poisoning. A bout of existential agony from which I’m still recovering. But, rather than let it get away unscathed, I’ve put it up on a meat hook TCM style to writhe a bit until I can get around to finishing it. And 94? The December entry for my year long celebration of evil clowns. I’ll be playing absent minded Dr. Frankenstein and going back to finish both installments in the immediate future, but for now they’ll remain “lost episodes” while I move on to (much) bigger and (MUCH) better things. Speaking of…
When Toho has taken to “rebooting” their main monster moneymaker’s movies in the past (Godzilla 1985 and Godzilla 2000), they did so by building off of the legacy of the original 1954 black & white unnatural disasterpiece. Hel, every installment of Big G’s Millennium series of flicks (with the exception of Tokyo S.O.S., which sequalized Against MechaGodzilla) were each, in themselves, separate sequels to King of the Monsters! Finally, half a century after God (Tomoyuki Tanaka) graced Earth with the grandest of grand Atomic Age monstrosities, Toho has gone back to the nuclear nightmare drawing board to not just start a new chapter, but a whole new book.
Unlike many Godzilla movies before, directors Anno and Higuchi waste no time jumping into the action. A mysterious undersea disturbance has suddenly activated offshore and made its way without delay straight into Tokyo Bay. And that’s not okay! The entire government goes into panic mode, half wanting to know what the threat is, half wanting to blow the fuck out of whatever it is, and half wondering if it can be contained or just driven back into the sea. If that doesn’t add up, don’t blame me. I haven’t taken a math class in 15 years and technology has made me stupid and dependent and… and… and unable to think of a third adjective. Poopie.
Anyway, as we watch elected officials scramble for data like Pizza Rat scurrying for a fresh slice, we the audience have a pretty solid hypothesis of just what it is that’s about to emerge from beneath the surf. Rather than stomping upon the shores of the rising sun though, this new kaiju instead swims its big finned backside from the bay straight into the Tama River, taking a tidal wave of upturned schooners and other sea crafts with it. The scene kinda reminds you of news footage from marinas hit by hurricanes. Like a boat warehouse came to life and the trauma of this ungodly abomination developing a fully functional digestive tract caused it to barf its overstock all over the place. Not unlike how I ended up last Labor Day when Boozerville Bottles & Kegs had a 3-for-1 sale on Tenafly Viper.
Leading biologists are called in for their expertise, but with such limited information available, none are willing to risk their reputations by make any guesses on just what to expect from the leviathan. The wankers are about as helpful as an atlas to a blind hitchhiker. Instead, a low ranking member of the Environmental Ministry (who happens to be an old college buddy of of our main protagonist, Shimura) chimes in with her observations, declaring the creature to be some manner of marine serpent, but one that’s grown flipper-like legs similar to a lung fish that would be crushed under the weirdo’s own weight were it ever to attempt going ashore. No sooner does the Prime Minister deliver such assurances to the citizenry via press conference, then with almost “F Troop” levels of pinpoint comedic timing, the monster sets its very large feet on land! And by the hoary holes of Yog-Sothoth is this beastie an all-over butterface.
Appearing nothing like the Godzilla teased to us in the movie’s promotional materials, I thought this abhorrent chicken of the sea was instead going to be the harbinger for the new king of the monsters, similar to the way 1985 prefaced the big guy’s eventual appearance with the massive radioactive parasite insect opening scene. That was one of the most pants pissingly terrifying movie moments of my childhood by the way, for anyone out there putting together a tin of trivia cards based on my exploits.
Anyway, this nightmarish amalgamation of Michael Crichton fiction and Jacques Cousteau fact turns out to be our titular Tokyo terrorizer! Resembling what would happen if a giant Moray eel and an Allosaurus had unprotected sex on top of a toxic waste dump, only to throw their resultant spawn into a dumpster fire following birth, this completely computer generated Jurassic juggernaut thankfully evolves like a friggin’ Pokemon with a Fire Stone up its butt! Climbing Darwin’s ladder with a quickness that would make Usain Bolt in Acme Rocket Shoes™ look like Droopy Dog doped up on Slo-Mo in comparison, the bug-eyed goliath becomes an upright walking, four limbed, air breathing horror show in a matter of hours, taking a shape more akin to the one-monster demolition team promised us… though still sporting a pair of googly-eyes that straddle the line between goofy and unnerving. He quickly retreats back into the Bay upon being confronted by the nation’s Self-Defense Force, though, allowing his human antagonists time to slap together a counterattack for his inevitable return. Like those friggin’ Salvation Army bell ringers that hang outside of the supermarkets every December, only less irritating and more dangerous.
Post rampage info shows that the monster powers itself with its own biological nuclear reactor, which means this Chernobyl on two legs (and with a hell of a lot of teeth) poses more of a threat to the citizenry of Japan than just collateral infrastructure damage. Good thing their weird pop culture obsession with virtually dating animals and marrying their pillows already has their birthing rates down, or they’d be in for a generation of flipper babies and tentacled toddlers! In a joint fact finding effort with the US Department of Energy, the creature’s likely origin comes from unregulated offshore disposal of radioactive waste materials some 60 years earlier. A Japanese biologist named Dr. Maki (who has since gone missing, leaving his private research materials behind for whomever found them) theorized that the superbeast was an ancient form of Lovecraftian deep sea horror that was altered by its exposure to the material way down in the ocean trenches. As the Americans call it (for no given reason), this “Godzilla” fed on the nuclear smorgasbord, growing and transforming into the mountainous menace it is today.
So, even after removing the marketing divisive material about the nuclear nightmare America inflicted upon their shores with Fat Man and Little Boy, Godzilla is still birthed from nature pointing up the folly of men? Okay. Well, as one born under “the red, white and blue”, I’m a little disappointed to see the consequential guilt trip of my government’s disgustingly short-sighted and irresponsible acts of wars past no longer used as the catalyst for further devastation. Then again, I suppose we got our fair share of penance when we shot ourselves in the foot with Zilla Takes Manhattan, so you can only expect a nation to endure so much. You’re the bigger man, Japan. Bigger than even Big Man Japan. Thank you.
When the demonic colossus reappears from the sea that spawned it, ‘Zills has once again transitioned, this time into the horror show that the advertising materials promised us. Now twice his previous size, his big dead salmon eyes have been replaced with beady little death gazers and the scads of random beastly fangs jutting from his mouth hole have, well, been joined by more of the same. He’s also rocking the newest iteration of his classic theme music, which should give fellow longtime fans a spine shiver as this ghastly goliath does right by his mantle and gets started turning the cityscape into an ’80s post-apocalyptic movie set designer’s wettest wet dream. Making His way to Tokyo, presumably to the nuclear power facility housed there, the government initiates a show of military force (partially so as not to appear dickless in the global political locker room) to stop Godzilla, or at least slow His progress while they work on a contingency plan to shut Him down. If you’ve ever seen any such show of “force” in a Toho flick past, you know how this is going to end.
The Defense Force’s hardware is even more ineffective now as it was in past movies, with current regeneration G not even acknowledging the machine gun fire and missiles exploding in his face. A lovely little testament about how you can’t destroy the embodiment of national PTSD with physical force. Artillery fusillades are as effective as roman candles and Red Ryder BB guns, while bomber payloads don’t even make him blink… well, he doesn’t have eyelids, so blinking is impossible anyway (kinda shitty evolution you’ve got there, boy-o), but you get the gist of my cliche.
With the nation’s neutered attack force (that’s what you get for aligning with Hitler!) seeing their best efforts barely even diverting the demon’s gaze, the US stick their military industrial complex shaped dick into the action on their allies’ behalf. What kind of “Mission Accomplished” banner moment will this cowboy cavalry carpet-bombing bring about? I won’t spoil it, but I’ll tell you this much for free – things go from “national tragedy” to “all seven levels of Hell on Earth at once” in less time than it takes an episode of “Shin Chan” to expose a child’s penis!
The USA thinks its strong-arm siege tactics are a fix-all, but said “problem solver” just leads to generational levels of devastation instead? Well played, Anno-san. I knew you wouldn’t let the nation of John Wayne escape the barbs of your lampoon harpoon. There shall never be forgiveness for The Conqueror from any Asian power, you racist bastards!
In light of the epic failure of the attempted efforts of the USAF bombing on Godzilla, the UN proposes that the nuclear option is the only means remaining if the rest of the world want to safeguard themselves against their own visits of retaliation from the 400ft tall atomic Krampus. Can Godzilla be put down without the Land of the Rising Sun being turned into the Land of the World’s 24 Hour Nightlight? Will our heroes be able to stand up to the Beast of Tokyo Bay before the Hell’s Highway paving good intentions of the rest of the planet leave the entire island bombed back to the Stone Age? Well, if the Stone Age were known for being an irradiated wasteland unable to support life of any kind. That’s such a stupid statement when you think about it. How does carpet-bombing the fuck out of a place denote that its surviving citizenry will be devolved back into stone tool using cave dwellers somehow? I’m pretty sure that said survivors would retain their knowledge of modern education and technology, keeping them well above the status of even a Flinstonian existence, let alone the actual Stone Age.
The big point of all this is that NONE OF IT MATTERS, because whether or not we hairless apes are actually able to cease or desist Godzilla, the radioactive fallout from his size 98,000 foot falls and blockbuster breath would leave the entire city (and likely much of the rest of the nation) UNFUCKING INHABITABLE FOR CENTURIES. Just ask this science-tician!
Kinda ruins the whole point of trying to stop Him, doesn’t it? I’d say our best option is to fast track those moon bases that Newt Gingrich promised us. Or hitch a ride to Metaluna with Exeter! You get used to the smell of mutants after a while. They’re just like our insects…just, you know, larger of course.
When you put aside all of the time periods and variances of the individual movies, when you boil the Godzilla filmography down in one of those Texas Chainsaw Massacre III oozing flesh pits, each movie is ultimately divided into one of two core categories: “Godzilla vs. Man” and “Godzilla vs. Monsters”. The kid inside me (don’t be gross, you sicko) can never get enough of the latter, but my adult self learned to appreciate the former once I figured out shit like symbolism. As such, as much as it would’ve been great to see what kind of charbroiled abomination the mind behind Evangelion could have turned Rodan or Anguirus into, I really enjoy the solo-kaijued Resurgence. Its treatment of Godzilla as an avatar for the real life Jigoku that Japan suffered through during the March 2011 tsunami and resultant Fukushima nuclear disaster is extremely effective. Emotional scenes of crews in radiation suits standing bravely in the face of the towering atomic inferno given form’s fatal exposure levels is a powerful tribute to the real life safety crews who made the same sacrifices to save their fellow countrymen from being engulfed in Fukushima’s fallout. I’m very curious to see if the long term effects of this new Godzilla’s first walking tour of Tokyo are felt in the sequel(s), much like people have feared the same long reaching damage of the Fuku.
On that note, like any Godzilla episode from either distinction, Resurgence‘s titular hellbeast is little more than a huge, grotesque, rampaging plot device as the movie is much more so about the drama of its human cast. Unlike most previous tales, which focused on lovably wacky protagonists and their supporting casts, this reboot takes its cues from the very first Godzapalooza. Everything is played VERY straight, with its cast of specialists and political figures engaged in nonstop research, devising panic suppression and resource management, and trying their best not to shit their pants while doing all of it in the heat of the moment… subconscious Asia joke not intended. While we’re on the subject though, does anyone else think it’s just some long standing typo that that song’s titled “Heart of the Moment”? Fucking progressive rock supergroups named after continents they weren’t even from! A POX ON THEE!
The characters aren’t really given much characterization (to the point that right now I couldn’t attach a name to a single one of them if my afterlife depended on it), as we only see them in “business mode” for the majority of the movie. It’s fine though, thanks to the deathly serious tone. In fact, the few moments of personality we do see from them are all the more impactful and by the end we’re not just giving a crap about some of these paper pushers and hand shakers, but giving a crap about where their paths continue on from here.
While their leaders try to keep their heads cooler than Mr. Freeze behind closed doors, we’re sporadically given the general public’s take on the tragedy too. Though lacking in any leading or supporting cast representation, the teeming masses are instead shown via scattered bits of found camera phone footage. These moments give us the man-on-the-street perspective just enough to help us relate to our brothers and sisters of the East without overstaying their welcome. Definitely a better use of the gimmick than making it the entire axis around which your production rotates… I’m looking (with seething derision) in your direction, Cloverfield!
Despite my “I wouldn’t piss on ’em if they were on fire” stance on found footage gimmicks, it’d be cool if Toho had put together some shorts based on these moments for the DVD release. Much in the way Marvel was doing their “One Shots” shorts, but introducing us to some normal people that could become characters in later movies. Or just as cheap shots to our feels boxes by getting us to connect with said people just to watch them die horribly. Those work too.
My favorite instance of the peasants’ part in the picture is seeing mobs of them gathered in the streets, protesting the government’s proposed destruction of Godzilla because they’ve instead chosen to hail the kaiju king as a living deity! Great for me, since this was exactly the foundation for my proposed sequel to Legendary’s 2014 Godzilla, in which the nuclear halitosis vomiting bohemoth and his own legion of worshipers would clash with the cultist followers of Cthulhu! Patience, Anubis. One day you’ll save up enough Marlboro Miles for that Cosmic Cube, then *BOOM!* Godzilla Vs. Cthulhu on every IMAX screen in the world!
Given my imperfect rating up above, I was going to have to start picking nits sooner or later. Now’s as good a time as any. Nit the First: size matters. Remember in my Godzilla 2000 review when I bitched about the hideous green screen effects that made Godzilla’s size unintentionally fluctuate frequently throughout? Well, as much as you’d think that wouldn’t be such a problem in Resurgence, what with every inch of the city smasher’s DNA being born of computers for the first time in a Toho flick, you’d be wrong. Once again Zillie’s proportions vary depending on the angle from which he’s portrayed. I ‘m sure the majority of viewers won’t mind, nor should they. But, if you’re like me and such inconsistencies drag over your brain like high gradient sandpaper, be prepared. Most of these moments come about as the result of some pretty spiffy shots too, so I’d rather sit through them and tell the shrill voice nagging me about it to join the voice that keeps telling me to run over teenagers in the streets and shut up for a few hours. It doesn’t change the fact that the issue still exists, but ignorance is bliss. Just ask climate change deniers!
Nit Picks Part Deux – From the visual spectrum, let us now give the ears a chance to air their grievances. Though much of the movie races along sans soundtrack (apropos for all the dramatic tension the actors are swimming in), there’s a jarring moment where something that sounds like a Japanese professional wrestler’s theme music kicks in… Seriously. Legit. I shit you not. This bizarre track comes complete with rocking guitar riffs that gave me aural flashbacks to the similarly misplaced six-string screeches that heralded Michael Myers’ moments of menace in Halloween 6! These would’ve been forgivable for a less serious showing, say in one of the Great One’s ’90s era monster mash mosh pit throwdowns. But here? Why!? Why would you ruin a New York Philharmonic concert by bringing a sick cow dressed like a member of Twisted Sister onto the stage to fart violently at the audience!? The rest of the music is the typical symphonic brilliance you’d expect from a Toho Godzilla outing, which makes this Bizarro World birthed harmonic rupturing all the worse. Such ear abuse I cannot excuse.
Nits III: Nits Go to College – Japan should really invest in some manner of sonar or seismic equipment. I mean, I know you can’t have a Godzilla flick without scenes of the panicked public in terrified mob mode, but how were the government NOT tracking His movements underwater?! Toho broke out the BIGGEST Godzilla ever (all because of some overcompensational pissing contest to one-up Legendary’s then biggest incarnation, which also happened to be the moniker’s biggest moneymaker), meaning this Mothrafucker’s gotta cause a LOT of earth shaking and tidal waving when his gigantic carcass comes a rumblin’ back outta Tokyo Bay! Also, shouldn’t the entire nation have been in a state of emergency after the skyscraping super mutant’s previous path of destruction!? We see kids in school uniforms and salarymen in business suits running for safety when they should’ve been home huddled around their TVs and ready to evacuate at the first sign of ANY undersea disturbance! For Fucker Von Fuckington’s sake, even if you take the seismic and oceanic shit out of the equation altogether (because you’re just being a contradictory asshole), the moment that they would’ve made visual contact with that giant ravaged lizard head poking up out of the water, the air raid sirens should’ve been turned to eleven! Instead, you’d think everyone in Tokyo were all looking away from the sea for about 20 minutes, then turned around to see Big G suddenly making fucking landfall!
I had a couple of other minor moments of misgiving with Resurgence I would have been happy to quantify, but they deal too much with certain perishable materials I’d rather not risk spoiling, so I’ll leave those to drift off into the ether as I wrap this up like I would Lil’ Anubis in a reverse gangbang. Not that I’ll ever be able to afford enough prostitutes to make that happen with my credit rating.
I really dig the direction Toho took with the G-Man’s new incarnation. The serious atmosphere, the return to Godzilla as a source of horror rather than heroics, His burnt and heavily scarred appearance, His hyper-evolving ability that opens the door for all manner of creative choices, and top shelf CG that warrants its hefty budget by putting the “special” into “special effects”. It all works so well, that this may trump my personal nostalgia bias and put Resurgence atop my list as my new favorite “Godzilla vs. Man” movie. I’m absolutely excited to see how Toho follows up, which is only swollen to painfully girthy levels having seen the little end credits tease. Yes, for any and all who hate the trend of end credit pop-up scenes, too fucking bad because they’re everywhere and will continue to be so. They’re the Bebe’s kids of movie gimmicks – they don’t die, they multiply.
And so it goes. Whether you call it Godzilla Resurgence or Shin Godzilla, it’s the second fantastic flick to bare the mantle of the King of Monsters in a three year period. If I weren’t an Atheist Death God, I’d think I’d died and gone to Heaven. Give me a bottomless A&W root beer float and a self-regenerating stuffed crust pizza and you may just have a convert on your hands! Between Legendary and Toho, it’s a damn good time to be a Godzilla fanboy/fangirl/fantrans/fansans. Our long time significant other and our side piece not only know about each other, but they’re both doing their best to appeal to us rather than trying to bump each other out of the picture! Could this lead to, dare I say it, a three-way?! Not just a three way, but a three way where we just sit back and they work together to give us the best 2 hours of our life!? I can’t help but feel selfish even thinking about it, but damn! Mirth! Joy! Celebration!
We’re damn sure as shit going to need the imaginary nuclear nightmare of Godzilla(s) to keep our minds off the impending real nuclear nightmare we’re all staring down. Hopefully they can prevent us from going insane from paranoia induced terror and eating each others’ faces as if they were fried in the Colonel’s 11 secret herbs & spices.
Damn… now I’m hungry.
Oh, and if you’re at all curious as to why Toho switched the title of the movie from Resurgence to Shin for the US release, it’s because they didn’t want anyone to mistake their movie having anything to do with Independence Day Resurgence. From the hushed whispers of the damned who have seen IDR, I think Toho made the right decision.
The Japanese Prime Minister’s proposal of a heavy tax increase on used-panty vending machines was a dark day for many, and the ripples were felt both by the common folk and the halls of government alike.
“Oshiro’s trying to pass of ‘turducken’ as a legitimate word! Somebody get the newest edition of ‘The Official Scrabble Dictionary’ and snuff out the flame of this dishonorable old cur’s rebellion against Emperor Triple Word Score!”
Looks like Venice during a rush hour gondola accident.
I told Barney to get the abortion, but he refused to be a “murderer”. Well, good luck singing “I Love You” to that thing every night for the next 18 years!
To your left you’ll see Sanrio’s Hello Kitty Farm, the Gigantor testing facility and the famous Cosplay Garment District. On the right is the legendary studio where the first tentacle rape cartoon ever was produced in 1947!
So the government’s elite anti-Godzilla intelligence detail operates out of the backroom of a Kinko’s?
An entire staff of interns are assembled to clear Representative Hentai’s browser history before news of his affair with the star of Fart Woman 7 becomes public.
You don’t want to be anywhere near a living nuclear reactor when its IBS starts acting up! Everybody RUN!
The world’s hardest game of Minesweeper!
That’s exactly how my roasts turn out any time I try to cook with my broiler.
Those clashing colors and patterns are a mess! The Japanese government really needs to a take a cue from their Nazi allies and get Hugo Boss to design their uniforms.
“I’m starting to worry that we went a little overboard with the architectural design for the new Jewish Community Center. Think we could get away with Trump’s ‘Microsoft Shapes’ excuse on this one?”
If Freddy Krueger fucked Denver the Last Dinosaur and their baby was passed through an x-ray machine a few hundred times before abandoning it at the bottom of an active volcano, you’d get that.
THIS is why you shouldn’t hold in your farts all day. ESPECIALLY if you get your breakfast from Taco Bell!
Anubis will return next time in
“Faster, Frankenstein! Kill! Kill!”
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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.
Featuring: Corey “The Lost Boys” Feldman , Vanessa “Kingpin” Angel , Danielle “Darkening Skies” Keaton
Director: Ted “Subspecies” Nicolaou
Writer: Courtney “Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge” Joyner
[Note from Anubis: This review was originally planned for posting on December 25th. Unfortunately, due to technical problems (I couldn’t find my DVD and the only person on the entire internet who still seeded the torrent was offline for a few days) I was not able to make said deadline. Boo-fucking-hoo. The opinions presented here aren’t olive loaf – they’re just as good (or bad) post-expiration! Now, please to enjoy our episode. Won’t you?]
Intro: So The Force Awakens opened last week to staggering box office numbers, bringing love and empathy to all mankind and blah blah blah. The Evil Dead Bride and yours truly have yet to partake in the hoopla just yet, because we’re waiting for the crowds to die down a little first. We both hate people as a general statement, so being surrounded by the squirming masses in cramped seating arrangements always brings with it the very real threat that said crowds will just have to die, period. Besides, there will never be a scene from a galaxy far far away better than when we got to watch Hayden Christensen burned alive, so what’s the rush? Oh, and Merry Cthulhumas!
I needed a bit of yuletide “inspiration” to get my “creative juices” flowing for this one, so I’ve been drinking nothing but eggnog spiked with Captain Morgan for the last 24 hours. It’s how we do a “cleanse” in my family. I better be careful or I’ll burn through my allotted “air quotes” for the review before we even get this donkey show out of the opening act!
For the first time in almost 40 years, there was a Full Moon on Cthulhumas (or “Cthuyule” if you’re a traditionalist). It’s the last such holiday lunar alignment for another 20 years. Since I imagine myself joining the choir invisible before that happens, what more reason did I need to do a review for a seasonally thematic Full Moon movie!?… except that this isn’t a Full Moon release.
In the “unspoken of times” where Full Moon was inactive and Charles Band was operating under his “Shadow Entertainment” banner (probably while he was dodging extradition to Romania to answer for unpaid castle rental contracts), and when SyFy was still known as The Sci-Fi Channel, someone had the bright idea to lease the rights to the Puppets and the Toys for the crossover that bad movie lovers had been clamoring for since the ’90s. Band was given an honorary “Executive Producer” credit, but he makes it a point to tell anyone who will listen that he had zero to do with the movie itself. Having watched it again for the first time in years, I don’t blame him! He’s subjected us to some truly heinous b-movie anus in his extensive time as a cinesadist, but when even Charles Band won’t take any credit offered him for a flick, you know that’s not a worm in the bottom of the proverbial tequila bottle, it’s a fucking Ceti eel. Khhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannn!
(Uh-oh. That’s not good.)
Without further ado, take it away, Ghost of Anubis Past!
Original Review: Man, I’ve been waiting for this moment for… hmmm… let me think… carry the two… adjust for leap years… uhm… shit, it’s been at least 7 or 8 years! Moreover, the concept for this beast has been around since it was originally going to be Puppet Master IV, which was released in 1993!… you know, before it became yet another “not really the last movie of the series, but we’ll call it the ‘Final Chapter’ anyway” flicks and turned into, in the words of John Cleese, “something completely different”.
(Oh what could have been…)
In fact, it took so much effort to get this bitch into heat that the birth father of both floundering franchises (i.e. Full Moon Pictures) wasn’t even responsible for the movie’s release! Nope, those ever-lovin’ bad movie bastards at the Sci-Fi Channel and Anchor Bay released it instead after its debut as a “Saturday Night Sci-Fi Channel Originals” movie, whose victims already include Bruce Campbell, Jeffrey Combs and the Return of the Living Dead flicks. So, though this stands as an evil omen from the darkest depths of the Cinemasochist Inferno, at least the Puppet Master and Demonic Toys titles have both been promoted to a level apart from stuff like Gingerdead ManThough I’m sure it’s going to be more of a horizontal relocation rather than some kind of glorious, money-out-the-butt-in-the-religious-sense ascension for Andre Toulon and his brood of handmade killers.
But let’s not drown too deep in the fret just yet, friends. The flick is directed by Ted “Subspecies” Nicolaou (what, was David DeCoteau too busy making more shitty vampire frat movies?!), so let us instead embrace the potential and see what kind of epic shit-eating tortures these last 13 years have wasted time and resources creating!
The sad part is that I’m actually so excited for this moment that I’m watching this at 2 a.m. on my laptop, which tends to emit a loud and terrible hum when I play DVDs on it. I had a long and painful day of failures and physical labor and up until an hour ago I was welcoming sleep like Tom Hanks welcoming an AIDS infected pecker in his pooper a la Philadelphia. But now I’m all eyes, ears and fingers for this nightmarish little play-by-play. Come on people, it’s a brand new DVD and it only cost me $8!? I haven’t been this excited since I found out there was a sequel to Rock ‘N’ Roll Nightmare!
Andre Toulon is no longer an elderly puppeteer with designs of vengeance toward the servants of Adolf “Captain Moustache” Hitler and the Third Reich. Gone are the days when Guy Rolfe would send wooden toys imbued with the essence of his dead friends to hack, slash, mutilate and smash those whose turn-ons include goose-stepping, long marches on the beach and the smell of freshly baked Hasidics. No longer does a young prodigy set his miniature do-gooder toys to do battle with foot tall totem demons and giant muppets with scrotum for mouths. No, instead we now have Robert Toulon, great grand-nephew of Andre, who’s bitter because the capitalist swine at Sharpe Toys have rejected him and his screwball ideas for “living” toys.
Well, that or he’s just pissy because he’s Corey Feldman, who is therefore a complete and utter joke in the footnotes of b-Hollywood to whom very few people would tag the prefix of “great” or “grand” with any level of serious admiration.
Bob’s your typical kooky inventor type: harmless for the most part, with little more than some smoke and bad smells to show for his work. If he didn’t hiss and grimace so much, you’d half expect him to shrink down some neighborhood kids and spend 2 hours trying to fix ’em while many a wacky hijink ensued. Then he’d come back for a couple of fuck-awful sequels and endanger the lives of several more kids before being burned alive in a boiler by the unhappy members of the PTA. Speaking of kids, this guy Robert somehow has custody of his daughter Alexandra (Danielle Keaton), with whom he re-enacts the life giving experiments of Great Uncle Andre thanks to a journal (that was no doubt illustrated by an eight-year-old…missing several fingers…that probably resulted in him/her drawing some fucked up looking turkeys at Thanksgiving) and several familiar looking tiny killers discovered in a flea market.
Speaking of the father-daughter relationship, it’s kinda creepy the whole time I’m watching this because Corey Feldman, no matter how many gray streaks he puts in his hair or how much beard scruff he tries to grow, will always look like he’s 16. The idea of him having a teenage daughter just looks unsettling. Let’s just hope “The Feld” is lucky enough to look this young when he’s pissing in a bag and eating food in a primordial ooze state.
Meanwhile, Sharpe Toys presidente Erica Sharpe (Vanessa Angel, who’s showing every day of age since Kingpin last played a multiplex, made all the worse since her lips look like an inflamed anus now) spies on Bobbie’s work via hidden ladybug spy camera while she sips sparkling cider with her “is she fucking that guy, or is he gay?” assistant Julian. Who may or may not be played by one of those hitmen with the ear-raping accents from Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave. (Note: after checking IMDB it turns out I was wrong on that assumption, though he has had small parts in shit like Hammerhead: Shark Frenzy, Shark Attack 3: Megalodon, and other non-shark related crap Sci-Fi Channel projects).
Sure enough, not only do Bob and Al do in five minutes what the Nazis and Kandarian demons couldn’t do over the course of 8 movies, but they get it right on the first try, as the puppets are resurrected on a diet of Kool-Aid™ infused with Toulon blood. :::Anubis proceeds to smash through a wall, wielding a pitcher of dyed sugar water laced with LSD::: OH YEAH!
No sooner are Jester, Pinhead, Blade and Six-Shooter back to working order than my Kool-Aid™ smile takes a NesTea™ plunge down the proverbial shit pipe…only in this case it’s literal. The puppet models being used here are by far the worst to date. Much like the rationale used on Pamela Vorhees’ baby (freak monkey murderer) boy for Freddy Vs. Jason, you can tell the diseased minds behind PMvDT wanted to make the Puppets the heroes of the flick, so they changed their appearances to try and invoke a better comfort level with the audience (or lack thereof). The result? Jester and Six-Shooter no longer look like a child molesting clown and drunken rapist cowboy respectively, but instead like “empathetic harlequin” and “child friendly old west kids show host” types that make me ill. Additionally, Pinhead looks like he’s been sucked into the Hollywood scene since his last movie appearance, slimming down immensely to a sickly, heroined out, Olsen Twins-esque look! He’s the fucking Kate Moss of the animated death toy crowd and it’s pathetic! He doesn’t even have that squinty-eyes Popeye quality to his face anymore. Instead, he looks like an anorexic old queen in a shitty brown sweater he knitted for himself! Seriously, I think Feldman would’ve been better complimented if he was acting opposite 90 minutes of badly edited stock footage than what these half-assed action figures are going to give us.
Anyway, it’s Christmas time and Sharpe Toys needs that one thing to put their manufactured plastic crap above everyone else’s manufactured plastic crap, so Erica sends her henchman and some hired goons to Bob’s “Puppet Hospital” (I shit you not) to do a little corporate raiding and acquire her some hot, wet puppet action. In standard fashion, the puppets defend themselves, a ruckus breaks out, Bob gets socked in the shnoz by an FDA approved goober with a fucking dollar sign tattooed on the back of his hand (see now, if Gene Simmons had achieved his lifelong dream of trademarking the dollar sign, he would’ve made $0.03 off of this purchase!), Six-Shooter accidentally sets the place on fire and he and his compadres get their stupid new plastic faces melted off. To which the puppets react as if there was somebody holding them by the leg and simply flailing them around…wonder why that is.
And with that, it’s time to introduce the other half of the titular equation as, back at the Sharpe offices, Ms. Sharpe introduces (i.e. sacrifices the cleavage of) her virginal Christian Youth receptionist (I swear this chick waited on me at Uno’s last night) to her “Board of Directors”, better known to followers of the Church of Chuck (Band) as Baby Oopsy Daisy, Grizzly Teddy, and Jack Attack (a.k.a. Jack-Out-of-the-Box. Which is a “pulling out” innuendo if I’ve ever heard one). Once again, I have to state-the-hate on these new character models. For the most part Teddy doesn’t seem all that different, and well, I think I actually like this new Baby Oopsy better. But as far as Jack goes, he looks like shit! I don’t know if they were aiming for some kind of Pennywise take on the fanged box occupier, but whatever the reason it’s COMPLETELY WRONG. The original Jack’s design was the star of the Demonic Toys movies and unless the Killer Klowns people were threatening legal action, there was NO reason not to have stuck with it. Blegh.
Back to our story (I guess that’s what you’d call it, right?), it looks like Erica has made a pact with the demon Bael (who forgot to take off his “orc mercenary” costume following his earlier Everquest™ cos-play meeting) to bring Hell to Earth by distributing 9 million Sharpe toys to homes around the world, all of which are to be brought to murderous life on Christmas Day following the shedding of the final drops of Toulon blood. It’s almost Christmas Eve and ‘Ric’s done her part, spreading the viral Cabbage Patch Creatures™ across the country. Will the greed demon be able to put the little beasts into blood-letting action, or will Bob and Al save the day with their new line of “burn unit victim” Puppet Master action figures? It’s a rhetorical question kids, we all know how this is going to end. And yes, I know that’s not what rhetorical means, I was just waiting to see if you caught on or not.
While Bob and Al prepare for their miniature war with the unholy playthings, a female cop gets involved because Corey Feldman needs someone to stumble over and sweat in front of. The puppets get “cyber upgrades” that include a plastic knife and hook for Blade, pillow
biting smashing thunder ball fists for Queenie Pinhead, a can crushing mace arm for Jester, and an array of plastic gun arms for Six-Shooter that somehow shoot lasers, because plastics are apparently well known for their abilities to generate intense beams of light and heat.
The good guys get caught “unawares” (to be more specific, while Bob’s christening the S.S. Porcelain Bowl), leaving them and the puppets at the mercy of the upstanding staff at Sharpe Corporation. Vanessa Angel puts on an outfit that would’ve looked a lot better on those legs when she had legs to speak of, and Al’s to be used as the blood sacrifice for Bael’s big global conquest thing. Finally, after over an hour of waiting for it, the title bout (literally) goes into effect and the heroes break free. As the norms around them shoot at each other (and Bael cavorts around in a Santa outfit while the countdown to Judgment Day continues), the puppets and toys trade blows. Blade (along with his very obvious plastic knife and hook) hacks the stuffing out of Teddy and liberates his huggable head, Pinhead squishes Oopsy’s head into a geyser of goo (following one-too-many Oopsy ass blaster joke attacks), while Jester and Six-Shooter make short work of Jack. This all happens in less time than it takes to cook minute rice. The goodies save the day, no Toulon blood is spilled, the great Christmas Holocaust is prevented, Bael takes Erica back to Hell with him as part of their agreement, and Al and Bob have holiday feastings with Bob’s new would-be cop girlfriend.
Whoop-di-shit. I waited over a decade for that?! Fuck! I didn’t have a whole lot of faith that this was going to go anywhere, but I didn’t think these guys would forget the whole point of the movie! You take a movie called Puppet Master Vs. Demonic Toys and you spend 80 minutes pitting the two sides against disposable human fodder while the two C and D-list actors you get for the lead roles hog the screen time, only to climax with a limp-dicked, one-sided conflict of Custer’s Last Stand proportions?! Maybe if I were into anal intrusions I’d love this movie, but as it stands I’m against getting dicked around, especially in a 90 minute marathon of it! At least Dollman Vs. Demonic Toys lived up to its name. And even then managed to fit in all it had to in just a little over an hour! Unlike this fucking waste of time.
As far as the acting I concerned, was Corey Feldman intentionally performing so over-the-top as a sign that he wasn’t taking the role seriously, or is he really so misguided in the thespian arts as to think he wasn’t making a total ass-hat out of himself? I’m sure it’s the latter, but I’m hoping it’s the former for the Feld’s sake. Vanessa Angel’s never been a good actress and the fact that she’s lost 70% of her sex appeal only throws this fact into our movie watching faces all the harder. Everyone else was pretty much by the books (those of course being the “How to Act But Not Get Noticed for Doing So” series) with the glaring exception of Sylvia Suvadova. Sylvia played the part of the Feld’s law enforcing would-be girlfriend, with the major difference being that of ALL OF HER LINES WERE RE-DUBBED. Does she have a horrible, ear drum grinder of an accent that the producers felt needed to be “redacted” from the film? Or, could it be that her actual acting is so bad that it couldn’t even work with the rest of this bowel obstruction? Inquiring minds want to know! Well, my slightly interested minor curiosity is kinda interested in a short and simple answer.
As you can tell from the numerous bitches and complaints dropped elsewhere as my recipe for hate called for them, the special effects ingredients involved were a good use for a dollar store budget, but otherwise a slap in the face to the series, especially following the otherwise groovy efforts of the first three films. Granted, they didn’t go for the cheap fuck like other recent entries by relying on the same stop-action stock footage born of Toulon’s Revenge, but I’m starting to think I’d rather watch those for a 12th time as opposed to the high school jerk around we got instead.
While I’m ‘picking here, the title graphic is terrible too. Look at it! Why has the classic Puppet Master logo been replaced by toy alphabet blocks?! Though I understand the use of the flaming logo for the latter half of this “Rumble in the Toy Box” title, I always liked the alphabet blocks look for the original Demonic Toys logo design (Note from 2015 Anubis: that wasn’t Demonic Toys, it was Dolly Dearest you dipshit), considering they’re toys and alphabet blocks are toys and… fuck it, nobody’s even listening at this point. The movie’s shite and every fiber of my being is nagging at me to go get my eight bucks back. Guess I should go do that now before all this talking to myself gets me another run at Arkham…
Disengaging Complaint Drive Warp Engine™… now!
Xtro: Uggh. That hurt. Like 50 lashes with a wet string of icicle lights. I forgot how genuinely wretched this movie is. For my original review, I gave PMvDT (huh huh, “VD”) 2 ½ stars. Not out of 10, but out of 5. FIVE! What the fucking fuck was I on!? This is a 90 minute shave with a razor made of broken glass covered in salt and ghost pepper sauce! I feel my anger and disgust have been blunted over the years too, so I must’ve been suffering some kind of horrendous personal agony in my life at the time to have crawled through this level of effluvial grime with a “meh” numeric attitude rather than the revulsion I got from watching it this week. Hey, Past Self? Don’t worry. Whatever Hel you were being dragged through by your armpit hairs back then, you get beyond it and realize just how incompetently assembled this Chinese unicycle truly is.
To add some extra torque to this self-inflicted yuletide titty-twister, it turns out that the only copy of the movie I was able to acquire on such notice also happens to be dubbed over in Russian…as spoken by a single, monotone guy. Yep, all of the lines, including those by female actors, are read by a bland-as-non-fermented potato water dude who may or may not have been very tired while doing so. I listened as well as I could for any instances of yawning, but found none. Anyway, the original English track was just audible enough that I could still follow along with the movie, but in all honesty, the cast’s performances are so “just paying my electric bill” quality that they’re barely worth the effort anyway. Watching Feldman run from Oopsy in one scene is hilarious though. His little jog is silly and not at all a pace I’d be comfortable at limiting myself to were I trying to outrun a homicidal doll that really wets itself! Feld’s raspy “fake old man voice” isn’t funny though, it’s distracting. And not in a good way that it would actually distract us from the thrift store production values of this moving picture calamity.
Everything is cheap in this movie. Everything. Even compared to the lesser Puppet Master movies. Even by TV movie standards. The sets are small and populated with props that even Ed Wood would look at and say “I think we can do better”. Roger Corman, Hal Needham, and Burt I. Gordon would watch this withered little pickle of a flick to boost their confidence in their own productions. Seriously, where did the reported $2.5million budget go for this fucking movie? To cover some Sci-Fi Channel exec’s mob debts!? The cheap plastic and foam rubber used to make these WOODEN puppets are an ipecac for my eyeballs. Pinhead looks like he Face/Off‘ed with Bea Arthur at some point, then was stricken with savagely aggressive puppet cancer! Blade’s supposedly deadly sharp appendages look about as metal as the toy army knives you get from Dollar Embargo, and only about half as dangerous too. Same goes for Jester’s “spiked mace hand” and Six-Shooter’s laser gun arms and “cyber” facial appliance (all of which I’m almost positive were made using salvaged pieces from an off-market Transformers lot picked up on eBay). The Demonic Toys aren’t as cheap and ugly, put I’m still put off by Jack’s facial redesign, and I don’t know what Past Anubis was thinking, but I definitely prefer Baby Oopsy’s original cold black shark eyes to what his peepers appear like here. Oh well, at least none of the Toys had goofy Terminator shit glued to ’em, so they’re automatically the better looking of the titular playthings by a Mongo mile.
But even the lowest of budgets can be overcome by a talented cast and a gripping story, right?! Since we already established that the “talented cast” part isn’t happening, how about that gripping story? Drop one of those ‘p’s, because there’s a piss and moan storm on the horizon. Since Courtney Joyner brought us Puppet Master III, the pinnacle of the PM legacy (not to be confused with the literal Puppet Master Legacy, which roams the sewers of the series like a C.H.U.D. with a crayon lodged in its frontal lobe), I had some hope for this movie. Not a lot, but enough that it wouldn’t give my Full Moon fanboyism anal leakage. Clearly, I should’ve downed a brick of cheddar with an Imodium chaser before watching. I guess I’ll never learn.
This is the kind of story that makes me want to swat Mr. Joyner with my ring hand and practice my acupuncture on the backs of his knees with splintered chopsticks. Andre Toulon’s great-grandnephew couldn’t have received his family’s infamous legacy via some kind of inheritance? Instead he finds them by chance through a flea market. A fucking flea market?! Fuck your flea market. And why does Erica Sharpe’s modern toy factory have a medieval dungeon in its basement?! Does demonic summoning magic (as done with a high-tech modernized version of an iron maiden) require stone block walls and big rusty chains around to perform? Was the factory built over the remains of a castle and they optioned to just use the original basement for the foundation?! Fuck your foundation. While we’re on it, Sharpe’s cadre of minions have a big evil sigil to identify each other by. Erica and her sidekick wear theirs in the form of pendants adorning their necks, which is fine, but her hired muscle bear theirs as big ol’ tattoos prominently displayed across the back of their hands! Shouldn’t you keep the calling sign of your secret cult, I don’t know, somewhere more secret?! Fuck your tatoos.
I’ve got a few dozen chunks of fruitcake fighting their way through my digestive tract like space marines through a nest of Xenomorphs, so just a couple more points of contention to contend before I (s)hit the bricks. Near the end of the movie, as Alex is trapped in Erica’s needlessly elaborate iron maiden (whose only purpose is to puncture victims and collect their blood in a plodding, gore hiding fashion), she does that doofy thing where a character narrates what’s happening to them, since shooting it would seemingly flatline this already anemic budget. Her half-hearted screams of “Dad! The spikes are starting to move!”, “Dad, the spikes are getting closer! You have to save me!”, and “Ow! Dad! The spikes are poking me!” are equal portions unintentional hilarity and teeth-gritting aggravation.
My last (and by no means least) gripe comes down to the eponymous exchange itself. The offensively cheap DVD box art promises us a “rumble”, and what we get instead is toenails in our chili that are most assuredly not hard-shelled peppercorns (http://www.videodetective.com/movies/texas-chainsaw-massacre-2-scene-family-recipe/472419)! On one side, we’ve got four killer puppets with silly albeit dangerous weapon upgrades, including one who wields six functional LASER GUN ARMS. Meanwhile, on the opposing side we’ve got a teddy bear with sharp teeth, a screaming jack-in-the-box also with sharp teeth, and a baby whose sole offensive abilities are propulsive farts and a douchey demeanor. The Toys are trying to ride a seesaw with the McGuire Twins on the other end, and their short-lived losing effort proves it. As if this weren’t already some of the most disappointing metaphorical build-up sex I’ve ever had with a movie I was looking forward to, the 80 minutes of clumsy foreplay leads to 4 minutes of uncomfortable intercourse, premature ejaculation, and 5 minutes of post-coital crying and apologizing before the viewer takes the walk of shame and wonders why they have such little self-esteem that they keep hooking up with such obvious losers. Happy fuckin’ New Year.
Speaking of embarrassing myself, before I go I’d like to take a moment to apologize to everyone for Past Anubis’ unacceptable mistreatment of Vanessa Angel over her looks during my original review. Reading that was like watching The Monster Squad and seeing kids throw around the term “faggot”. It’s not right. I’d call myself a fuck-o to my face if I had a time slide right now, but I’m no Time Angel, so that’s not an option. (Editor’s Note: Anubis is a fuck-o sometimes. I’ve informed him of this, now we can all move on. Bully to him for admitting his fuck-o-ness, apologizing for it and trying to be better moving forward.)
Here’s to wishing you all the best (of the Best) in these final days of 2015. Mine clearly ended face down in a puddle of pig vomit, but here’s to hoping that 2016 (and the continuation of the World Tour de Farce) brings us all something worth smiling about and a little less worth hanging ourselves naked in a sleazy motel closet about. Peace on Earth and Boyz II Men.
“You have been convicted of high crimes against our glorious magistrate! For that, you shall all be crucified until dead! Pray to your plastic gods now, for they will be the last words you ever speak!”
“Damn it mom, stop swindling the neighbors! Damn it Rose, stop being such a stupid bumpkin! Damn it Blanche, stop being such a slut! DOROTHY SMASH!”
“But how do I know this is the actual syringe Barry Bonds juiced with before his record breaking homerun? Do you have a certificate of authenticity or a picture of him using it?”
Free advice: if you’re in an elevator with two people wearing the same type of evil looking pendant and one/both of them are clutching theirs while grinning sinisterly, you’re about 10 minutes away from being the subject of a secret society’s human sacrifice.
That’s why no one ever tried to come between Corey Haim and his nose candy.
“And who’s she supposed to be?! Between that dress pattern and the weird collar she looks like some kinda fairy queen of Christmas presents! I’ll be here all week! Remember to tip your waiter!”
We have top men working on Corey Feldman right now. Top… men.
This summer, he’s back in the slammer and back undercover! Marlon Wayans brings us the long-awaited mash-up sequel to two of his greatest film epics in Little White Chick Man!
“We told you SyFy bastards what would happen if we caught you shooting another one of your shitty movies down here!”
“I’m telling you you’ve got the wrong guy! I’m not Charlie Sheen!”
Though it never made it past pre-production, a handful of prototype action figures were made for the ill-fated Blazing Saddles 2099 reboot.
“Well… I guess I’ll just have to learn to masturbate with my left hand now.”
Well, I wanted Joanna Angel for Xmas, but I’ll settle for Vanessa Angel. Don’t wanna seem ungrateful, right?
This is why you never have your office Christmas parties anywhere within walking distance of a tattoo parlor. You don’t wanna see where their assistant manager got his.
“LIKE A RAINBOW IN THE DAAAAAAAAAAAAARK!”
He died doing what he loved: attending King Diamond concerts in a business suit and corpse paint. God speed, executive metalhead.
“NO! I don’t care what the contract says! You can’t make me do another Lost Boys sequel! IT’S INHUMAN!”
That’s an oddly specific time stamp for a movie…
Damn it, Bael! If you’re not gonna wear the Santa beard properly, don’t wear it at all! Fucking hack!
Pinhead is disturbingly serious about taking his Kanchō game to the next level. I didn’t realize he was made in Japan.
Johnson & Johnson had to scrap their proposed new No More Tears Green Apple Baby Shampoo dispenser when several mothers in the focus group fainted and one had to be institutionalized.
“Don’t think I didn’t know it was you stealing the crunchy boxers out of my underwear hamper, Jester! We all know the weird shit you’re into! Give ’em back!”
Anubis will return next time in
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Featuring: Sornram “Dreamers” Theppitak , Sara “The Thai Thief” Legge , Dan “You’ll understand why he doesn’t have any other movie credits after this review” Fraser
Writer & Director: Monthon “I Miss U” Arayangkoon
You know, kids, Uncle Anubis has been having a hard time recently. There are a few things going on that have been bringing down my mood as of late, both in my personal world and the world overall. Life’s been a bit of a buzzkill for me these last few months. My thoughts are generally a Junior Jumble and I’m feeling dyslexic as fuck. My brain is stuck on shuffle, but I hate all of the tracks playing. It’s frustrating. But, as Pearl once told Mike, “I find that in times of crisis, watching a skin-peelingly bad movie can truly help. To that end, I offer you the balm that is Soultaker.” And, since I don’t have Soultaker, Dr. Blackenstein has written me a prescription for Garuda.
But, this is a World Tour review after all, so before we get started with the movie, shake hands with Thailand! No, I didn’t mean literally. Damn it, just put your hand down.
Formerly known as Siam (Yul Brynner looked so badass in The King and I), Thailand is central of the Indochinese Penninsula, and bordered to the North by Mayanmar (not Mallomar) and Laos (not Gyaos). 95% of the nation is Buddhist, which will become a big deal once we get to the movie meat of this chicken curry. Speaking of food, Thailand held the World Record for longest line of washed plates with 10,488! That record was stolen from them by India less than a year later, though, when they upped the ante to 15,295. Fucking India can’t let anybody have anything. Pricks. Don’t worry, Thailand. You still hold the records for the world’s largest gold Buddha, largest crocodile farm, largest restaurant, tallest hotel, longest single-span suspension bridge, and largest Christmas log cake (hilarious since less than 1% of their population are Christian). Put that in your public streets and shit on it, India!
Thailand’s bestiary includes the world’s largest fish (the Whale Shark), smallest mammal (the Bumble Bat), longest snake (Reticulated Python), longest poisonous snake (King Cobra), largest living lizard (Monitor Lizard), a fish that can walk on land and climb trees (the Mudskipper), 10% of the entire world‘s bird population (!), the world’s hairiest child (Supatra Sasuphan), and is the birthplace of the legendarily conjoined brothers Eng & Chang (who had 22 kids between them!… not literally, of course) from which the term “Siamese twins” was coined!
On the darker side of things, the air pollution is so bad that traffic cops wear face masks and 20% of their law enforcement officers suffer some form of respiratory disease. Thailand’s also one of the 3 corners of the infamous “Golden Triangle” (along with Myanmar and Laos) that produces and traffics notorious amounts of heroin and opium to the rest of the world. Thailand was also the home of the first reported case of HIV/AIDS and has the most prevalently HIV infected citizenry in all of Asia. No surprise since its prostitution population is believed to number somewhere in the high six-figures. Whoring isn’t legal there, it’s just rarely prosecuted. Speaking of, Thailand is also the most notorious country in the world for child sex trafficking. A horrifying statistic that they probably leave out of the tourism brochures, but always reminds me of that “Kids in the Hall” skit where Dave Foley negotiates with child prostitute Bruce McCulloch while on vacation in, you guessed it, Thailand. It’s good to laugh about the hideous atrocities that go on in the world that you have absolutely no control over…
Oh, and stay away from Thailand’s “Full Moon Parties”. Just like the Charles Band production company after which they’re named (I’m presuming), things aren’t what they seem and you’ll end up regretting your involvement after. Only, you know, instead of losing 90 minutes of your life, it’ll be more like 9 years in a Thai prison. You don’t want to go to Thai prison. Ever seen Brokedown Palace? Me neither. I’ve heard Thai prison sucks though. And yes, they have one big prison, so shut up.
Alright, that’s enough of the nation that pinched this cinematic defecation. Let’s get down to business!
Considered Thailand’s first foray into the kaiju subgenre, Garuda takes its name from the giant humanoid bird people of Buddhist and Hindu mythology. Ancient enemy of the Naga (giant snakes), the top birdman was given the title “Garuda”, a deity in its own right that was also the whip upon which head honcho Vishnu rode. So, it’s a birdman who worked for Vishnu and is the topic of a feature you’d be better off remaining ignorant of, hence the alternate title for this episode. Get it? Think Michael Keaton. Still don’t get it? What do you mean you haven’t seen Birdman yet!? Meh. Neither have I. And now that I’ve explained the joke, it’s ruined. Blart. Anyway, Garuda is also the national and royal symbol of Thailand, not unlike how the bald eagle is a big deal national pride symbol of America. Their avian mascot could kill our avian mascot any day. We need a cooler winged mascot now. Like Batman. He could probably beat a Garuda. I mean, he kicks Man-Bat’s ass like once a year, right?
Our movie opens on a bit of background establishment, as a narrator tells us about the generally peaceful Garuda species. In ancient times, before the hairless apes of humanity moved in and started trashing the Earth, the biggest and meanest of the Garudas got pissed off about his small penis size and murdered and consumed the other members of its ecosystem with reckless abandon to overcompensate for his perceived shortcomings. Sick of their brother’s bullshit, the other fowl folks ganged up on the bully, kicked his ass, and trapped him in the roots of a giant tree that later sank into the Earth. They abandoned him amidst the landscape he had stained with the gore of his avian avarice, where he stayed for 80 millennia or so. Guess when he’s getting out. Go ahead. If you said “now”, reward yourself with an Abba-Zabba or a fifth of scotch or whatever you usually reward yourself with!
Here in the modern age (for us, it was 10 years ago), ambitious young archeologist Leena Jeanvier (Sara Legge, the Thai Jessica Alba) proposes that the Thai government allow her to pursue a dig and search for evidence of an evolutionary offshoot of birds whose existence she believes influenced the founders of Eastern religion to worship these as the Garuda. Her theory is that dinosaurs became birds became humanoid raptors much in the way that a string of ape DNA eventually gave way to early man. Stringy ape DNA. Ewww.
Leena’s s.o.l. though (and I don’t mean Satellite of Love), because the people of Thailand are incredibly religious to the point that anything science-y that might disprove something about their mythology is immediately denounced as heresy and shot down. As such, Lee’s request is refused and she’s ridiculed for being a “half-caste” foreigner. See, despite her mom being Thai (just like Tiger Woods!), her father was a French archaeologist, so we see from the start that Thailand is a racist, superstitious place that no one should ever go to ever. As if the grade school sex slaves weren’t bad enough!
The reason Leena’s so determined to research the possible Garudal evidence in the area is that she wants to continue her dear deceased dad Pierre’s work. 30 years prior, he discovered a full birdman skeleton in the grounds beneath Indian Kashmir (Bollywood rendition of the Led Zepplin song?) on the border of Pakistan! Too bad for him that he made said discovery mere moments before Pakistani soldiers bombed the crap out of his dig site. His friend and partner Rashid died pushing Dr. J from a (hilariously bad shaky cam) cave-in, and all the poor man’s Indiana Jones was able to recover from the remains was a single talon. While looking it over, he tells Rashid’s corpse, “At least you didn’t die in vain.” Too bad that he totally did die in vain, because when the doctor tried to bring his findings to the people of Thailand, much riot rage was thrown his way and his blasphemous findings were denounced by everyone. He became sick and died not long after, leaving the talon on a necklace for little Leena to keep with her always. And here she is, all grown up and adorable in that “almost too cute to masturbate to” way. Also, this being Thailand, she could be a ladyboy for all I know.
Side note: good on Thailand for being so forward thinking and accepting of its transgender people, but if I ever wind up within their borders, I’m keeping my dick to myself. I’m not one to say “Phucket, let’s Bangkok” anywhere really, but better safe than sorry. By which I mean waking up in a cheap hotel room with my wallet and/or kidneys missing and my phone full of pictures that make me question the sexuality I was pretty sure I’d established firmly post-college. I have a friend who didn’t realize she was a lesbian until she was 40 though, so it’s never too late to discover things about yourself!
Following her dismissal by the authorities, Leena’s uncle Wichai (Yani Tramod) promises to do what he can to sway opinion in her favor and get the project approved. Until then, she’s back to an excavation site in nearby Kalasin to do more research and teach kids about dinosaurs and stuff along with her co-worker Tim (Dan Fraser). Oh boy. Let me tell you a little about Tim before we go any further. For starters, these two aren’t dating. It’s not even a “Friend Zone” situation, as they’re both apparently cool with just being peers beyond a comment Tim makes later on about how “If you weren’t so boisterous, you’d be my girlfriend already”. Strange that they don’t date though, since he looks exactly like her father what with the short messy hair and glasses, and the whole “being an archeologist” thing. Maybe they’re just holding off until he’s positive she’s not a ladyboy and she’s sure he’s not gay?
The most important Tim characteristic possesses though are his goofy faces. He’s intended to be comic relief, what with his non-threatening flirtations and easy going demeanor in otherwise pants-wetting situations, but it’s his weird faces that make him stand out. Remember how sidekick cop Frank Washington in Samurai Cop was always yucking it up and mugging to the camera with over exaggerated faces like a party clown on Molly? Tim is Garuda‘s Frank Washington! While other people talk, he’s unable to just stand still and pay attention. He’s constantly looking back and forth and his face is trapped in improv actor “expression practice/warmup” mode! He’s okay as the resident chucklefuck minus the face thing, but…but…THE FACE THING! ARRRGH!
“2 months later”, Uncle ‘Chai calls Leen and slack jaw Tim to Bangkok (Dangerous?). An entire pop-up military operation (or “pop-mop” if you like) has been established around a dig site, populated by generic camo-ed army soldiers and led by a special ops government unit that brings to mind the S.T.A.R.S team from the original Resident Evil games. When we first see them, they’re all standing around in tough guy action poses, smoking cigarettes, proudly bearing their facial scars and unshaven faces while everything goes all slo-mo! Much like the rest of Asia, Thailand’s still playing catch up with American pop culture. Looks like they’re only up to 1992 in their “action movie hero tropes” department. KWIMV? (Know What I Mean, Vern?)
Being the guests of honor to this block party, ‘Chai introduces L&T to the group’s leader Tan (Sornram Theppitak). Tan exposes himself as yet another xenophobic bigot in a government appointed position, wasting no time referring to the pair as “just a foreigner and half-foreigner”. The way Leena reacts, I’m pretty sure Tan called them whatever the Thai ‘N’ word for outsiders is. Granted, the KKK is a horrible group of bigots over here, but at least they’re not holding office and running the army (openly)! Krispy H. Kreme!
Anyway, Tan begrudgingly does his job and escorts the pair underground. Seems the city’s expansion of their subway system resulted in the excavation of a skull that looks especially human, but especially bird-like! Oh and there’s a huge wall of stone that the drill mysteriously couldn’t penetrate. Actually, this was all uncovered back when the nerdly duo were last in town, so what the government spooks were doing the last eight weeks with it is anyone’s guess. Wachai tries to explain it, but he just stutters as if he was trying to improvise an answer on his own before Tan backstory blocks the proceedings and tells him to get to the point. Somebody probably spilled peanut sauce on that part of the script…of which I guess they only had the one copy…?
The nerd pair check the wall of rock out and guesstimate that it’s over 80,000 years old. They also determine that there’s a cave behind it (by putting their ears against it) and request that the National Geology Department be brought in to inspect it. Not a fan of wrapping this metaphorical mummy in any more bureaucratic red tape, Tan vetoes the suggestion and orders his demolitions guy Wit to blow it to shit! Inside of the stone cell they find the tree in which the Garuda bully was imprisoned. Speaking of incarceration, Tan has L&T detained when she goes on this weird tirade about how Uncle ‘Chai and these jackbooted thugs have stolen her father’s work and won’t allow her to investigate the cave. Kids, when a racist dickhole and his heavily armed, government sponsored militia are just looking for an excuse to turn your dome into paste and dump what’s left of you in the sewer, I would suggest you not antagonize them when they tell you to sit down and shut up. Can’t exactly change the world when your entire existence can be wiped from the face of this mudball in less time than it takes to upload a copy of I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle to YouTube.
That reminds me. Could someone do me a solid and upload a copy of I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle to YouTube? Groovy. I loaned my DVD to a friend who lost it in a house fire (that I set) and I wanted to revisit it.
Tim picks the lock to their holding pen with his excavating tools (because nobody bothered to frisk them before locking them up…) leaving the pair to escape, so they can try and catch some visual evidence of their findings in the cave with the video camera that their captors also didn’t confiscate. Nearby, while Wichai is scraping samples from the trees within the cave, he notices the comatose Garuda and starts praying for its forgiveness. Watching this from a monitoring room, Tan has a flashback to a prior mission with his task force where he lost a member who was too busy praying for mercy from their enemy instead of just shooting it in its big, stupid, computer generated face. Said enemy? A giant Naga snake monster! Cue the “Wait! Is this a sequel!?” moment of confusion before realizing that the ops this special ops team was assembled for is to fight monsters! Yes! Spoiler alert: in case you overlooked the big turd rating at the top of the review, this movie sucks. That being said, I’d still watch an entire series of movies based on the exploits of these mythological monster mashers, no matter how deep down the toilet their production values went.
Tan’s teammate Krai (Chalad Na Songkhla) snaps him out of the PTSD episode with a “get over it” and a stick of gum. Who needs Celexa™ when you’ve got Doublemint©?! Thailand – the nation of “walk it off” psychiatric therapy! Lee and Timmy too discover the sleeping giant, but are immediately rediscovered by their gun-toting oppressors. Tim tries to fend off their pursuers with a broken spotlight while Leena hoofs it outta there, but he only knocks over a grunt or two before getting his coconut cracked and being restrained again. This time he’s given a personal guard – a testosterone factory named Harn who wields a big-ass knife inscribed with some mystical whatchamacallit symbol. So he fights giant dangerous beasts with an oversized bowie? Well, that at least explains the game of Connect the Dots going with his numerous facial scars!
40 minutes in, we finally get our Birdman of Bangkok when a misplaced length of electrical cable gives ‘Rudy a Kong-sized hotfoot and revives the beast. Why is it that every time I zap coma patients with the magical sky fire they just die and/or go up in flames, but these accidental Frankensteins breathe life into a prehistoric anthropomorph with ease!? Maybe it’s because the creature’s entirely computer generated (from the dreggiest dregs of SyFy Original Movies Purgatory) and the power surge rebooted the seized up laptop it was running on? Regardless, GarGar’s back in business and pissed that nobody changed the shredded newspapers lining his cage. He takes his anger out on Uncle ‘Chai and a random extra in fatigues before moving on to further prey.
Tan and his men catch up with Leena, and the pair clash over opposing viewpoints, guaranteeing that these two will be working together (and likely staining some sheets together too) before long. Intelligence and faith will learn to co-exist, brains and brawn will be attracted to each other, foreigner and full-blood Thai will gain mutual respect, and the world will be a better place. Until then, our eponymous monster (“eponymonster”, perhaps?) picks up where he left off 80,000 years earlier and just kills every living thing in sight. Guess he didn’t “think about what he’d done” during that extended stay in Time Out, did he? Harn declares to Tim that their unit are “soldiers who kill Gods”, but I’d bank my collection of mint condition Movie Maniacs figures that this time they’re just going to be “soldiers who(m) the Gods kill”.
Shazam! If Tan was having survivor’s guilt before this, he’s gonna need shock treatment after all the underlings he’s bound to lose tonight! But not the weak cheese follow-up to The Rocky Horror Picture Show of the same name. The only thing watching Shock Treatment will cure is any respect you had for Richard O’Brien.
Tim’s escort tries to take on the ‘Ruda Boy cuchillo-a-gara (knife-to-claw) in one of the least intentionally guffaw inducing “actor vs. cgi monster” pieces of mortal-on-immortal combat ever filmed. As we’re less than sixty minutes into this two hour tour, you can probably hazard a decent guess on which participant of Thailand’s answer to the Peter Griffin & Giant Chicken feud walks away from this encounter. Hint: it’s not Agent for H.A.R.N… no Harn, no fowl! (Had to get those last puns in before moving on. (Forgiveness please!)
Leena rescues her would-be-beau from his confinement in a locker (and no doubt a litany of traumatic flashbacks to every day of his years in high school) and reveals her plan isn’t to stop Col. Sander’s worst nightmare (or wettest wet dream), but to help it escape to a life of freedom… in the skies over Asia… where it will probably be sucked into the engines of a Thai Airways jet mere moments after its ascension. Great plan. Despite his initial protests of “Are you crazy?!”, Tim changes stances faster than the Karate Kid (CRANE KICK!) and offers to help in any way he can. Because of course he does. The guy looks and acts like he hasn’t been laid since parochial school, and I don’t blame a single member of the female gender for it either. In fact, keep up the good work, ladies! Pity sex hurts more than it helps in the long run. Believe me, I know. My Evil Dead Bride gave me some when we first met. It’s been 16 years and she still can’t get rid of me!
While L&T formulate their plan to lure the feathered fiend out of the tunnels (i.e. scraping her talon necklace against a hard surface to create a noise that sounds like a Garuda mating call), Tan and his men steel their resolve by clutching their fallen comrades’ dog tags and vowing not to be pushed around by no bully Gods who think they’re better than us! In fact, he denounces it as even being a deity, instead calling it a “beast”, since no God would unjustly punish man the way this motherfucker’s doing. I guess this guy’s never actually read a religious text and just believes what he’s been told all his life. Tan also accuses their deceased allies as having “given up”, which is birdshit. With the exception of the one guy in his earlier flashback who opted for the power of prayer over the power of a full clip of armor-piercers, the rest of his crew fought to the death when their times came, so fuck you, boss man. Chip nothing, Tanner’s got stacks of Pringles on both shoulders.
The team sets a trap for the Heavy G, lining the floor of the cavern with grenades and trip wires. Leena wanders into the darkness, giving the group’s sniper an easy shot to take her out, but Tan tells his man to hold off. Once again his leadership skills shit the bed, as she wanders into the minefield and, through movie magic, manages to casually walk amidst them without tripping a single one. She must have Mr. Magoo’s mutant power of subconscious danger evasion. This goes on for what feels like an absurd amount of time before she finally fucks up this game of Thermite Twister and, just as she’s about to trigger one of the explosives, Tan intervenes, holding her in place while demolition man (John Spartan?!) Wit comes in to disarm it…after getting hyped up by taking a whiff of an unlit cigarette? What in the name of Kali’s g-string was that about?!
While this is going on, Garuda’s just watching from the ceiling with his piss colored beer goggles-vision, probably wondering to himself how such a stupid race of creatures managed to survive for so long. Determined to rectify this obvious evolutionary error, the beast strikes, launching a grenade wielding Wit pirouetting through the air at his sniper teammate, killing both upon the explosive’s detonation. Of which sniper guy makes zero effort to avoid, no doubt captivated by the majesty of his teammate’s trajectory. The spin that Garuda gives that man would bring a tear to any billiard master’s eye. Tears of laughter, because when faced with such madness, all you can do is laugh or go into complete gray matter meltdown. Between this moment and the knife fight sequence alone, you should be doing everything in your power to find a copy of this movie. It won’t be easy, but by Jupiter, it’ll be worth whatever pounds of flesh and sanity you’re forced to sacrifice in its name.
Tan manages to make his men’s deaths worthwhile when he gets Leena to safety before the rest of the bombs go off. He didn’t really need to worry though, because it seems Wit must’ve accidentally planted smoke grenades instead of frags, as they go off in big blossoms of fog rather than like the flaming blast that killed him mere seconds before. Blart. The chain reaction blows a hole in the cave that allows the river above to flood in, flushing out the tunnels and giving our remaining protagonists a new found sympathy for what their turds go through. Tim gives us an amazing slow-motion “HO-LY SHIIIIIT!” (which doesn’t make it onto the subtitle track of my copy) before turning tail like a reverse lemming, as Leena and Tan are swept away (still a better movie than the actual Swept Away) together and wash up in a water treatment plant. Or a sewage treatment plant. The former if they’re lucky. But given the way shit’s been going for them so far tonight, it’s probably the latter, no pun intended. Okay, pun intended.
Blaming the waifish little lady for his associates’ deaths (though I’d say they’re both at fault), Tan isn’t shy about putting on his best Billy Idol sneer, calling Leena a selfish atheist who can’t just let religious people live in happy ignorance (not exactly his words, I’m just doing some biased paraphrasing) and asks why she doesn’t just die and save everyone else the trouble. History’s most awkward first date continues as Lee turns on the water works (appropriate given where they are) and argues that she didn’t ask for these people to die, she lost people important to her too, all of her evidence was destroyed in the flood (and he’s probably happy about that), she’s just doing this because she wants to honor her dead father by redeeming his name, and finally pulls the “Why do you always blame me?!” trump card. Not to be confused with the Donald Trump card, which just blames Mexicans for everything. Leena doesn’t mention it, but it was also his bumble fucks who woke the friggin’ monster up in the first place!
Having been put in his place and completely overcome by Leena’s pity party, Tan makes a big deal about pulling a tiny fragment from a barely leaking scratch on the gal’s arm and giving her a strip of fabric from his sleeve to use as a bandage. Meanwhile, he’s got several gashes on his own arm that are bleeding like the proverbial stuck pig and covering his hands in his own blood, but let’s make sure her tiny wound is taken care of first!. Hell, it probably would have clotted up on its own just fine! But no, cue the cheesy romance music because these two are clearly sharing a manufactured moment. That’s how movies work. But when I offer my sleeve for a woman on the bus to blow her nose on, I’m a disgusting freak! Stupid fantasy worlds.
Oh, and having lost her jacket during their logless flume ride, Leena’s also now sporting a John McClane Special (bloodstained wife-beater) so she can look both hotter and fiercer. You know, like when Savini and Romero “Ellen Ripley-ed” Barbara in their sterile Night of the Living Dead re-hash.
They come across Tim, and the dingus third wheels himself back into the proceedings. This comedy of errors next turns into an error of comedy as the trio walk headlong into an intended joke break next, finding their way out of the tunnels to a subway platform being chaperoned by a clownshoes-looking security guard (played by some moderately successful Thai comedian, I’m sure) who talks to himself while also harassing teenagers, waving his walkie-talkie antenna at them like a long, skinny, black rubber dildo as they do teen things like make out in public and stand on the “do not cross this line” line. Yes Janet, life’s pretty cheap to that type!
Garuda comes in on the next train, kills Chubs, then gets into it with the three. Tan tries to bullet-fu it (watch the incredibly poor work done with the monster’s shadow now that he’s amidst lights!) but winds up knocked on his ass. Big Bird has an Alien 3 face-to-face with our heroine before a SWAT team swarms in and drive it off with tear gas. They pursue it back into the tunnels, but wind up slaughtered like the good little fodder they are. Garuda makes his grand re-entry soon after, emerging from beneath the street (and expanding his wings for the first time, which seem 20 times larger than they were when curled up on his back until now) to snatch an unsuspecting Tim. Serves him right, as the prick was munching some poor soldier’s abandoned McDonald’s Samurai Pork Burger (an actual sandwich I looked up to make that reference!) at said moment of snatchery. Now that he’s out of the picture, no one has to feel resentful toward Leena when she gets serious with the new sweet ‘T’ in her life either. A gory finish would’ve been better fan service though, given how long we were forced to sit through the big doofus’s antics, but I do at least take solace in knowing that he’s DEAD.
Since the rest of the action takes place above ground in the glowing splendor of the Banged Kok, let’s have a timeout for a trivia break! Thailand’s capital is the proud owner of the world’s longest place name. Yep, the capital city the rest of us know as Bangkok (did that once, hurt like a bitch) is just its stage name. It’s real name is Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit. Though it looks like two cats in heat had a fuck fight on the keyboard of your laptop, that orgy of vowels and consonants actually translates into: “City of Angels, Great City of Immortals, Magnificent City of the Nine Gems, Seat of the King, City of Royal Palaces, Home of Gods Incarnate, Erected by Visvakarman at Indra’s Behest”. I’ll take their word for it. Fuck’s sake, even if you just go by its acronym (CoAGCoIMCotNGSotKCoRPHoGIEbVaIB), the damn thing’s still half an alphabet longer than the longest city names in the US!
After yet another uproariously incompetent scene of half-assed (or even just one-third-assed) cgi work with Garuda flying around the city and pestering citizens, the beast finally settles for roosting atop a skyscraper. Hoping to kill the fiend once and for all, Tan proposes that Leena offer herself and her pendant up as bait to bring Gary into a trap. Once he’s out of the sky, he won’t be able to outrun their attacks (which sure didn’t seem to cause him many problems when he was in the confines of the subway tunnels!), and they can nail him with a rocket launcher…which would probably also kill Tan’s new girlfriend in the process, given that she’d be in the immediate blast radius, but let’s not argue semantics! If they think their game of “blow up the birdman” is going to go off as planned though, they’re in for a Garud-awakening. Yeah, I said it. So what? Wanna fight about it?
The guy wielding the rocket launcher, Tanong, gets all gun jumper and fires too soon, confident that he knows better than his team leader on how to kill legendary monsters. Turns out playing every Pokemon game to completion doesn’t make him an expert in monster extermination after all. Garuda just suckers the delayed heat-seeker (“HEATSEEKER!”) right into the building Tan and the other soldiers are stationed at, leading into YET ANOTHER HILARIOUSLY HORRID ROUND OF CGI! The floor lights up with numerous ignitions (including one BIG delayed reaction explosion from outside the building), resulting in a fireball that VAPORIZES every grunt soldier it touches! And when I say it was delayed, I speak no diggity: the fucking thing goes from being right on ‘Rudy’s tail to disappearing for FIFTEEN SECONDS while he’s hovering outside the windows of the building before finally reappearing to turn the place into an inferno! I counted the running time.
Severely pissed for having his intelligence insulted like that, Garuda stops by the building roof from which the missile was launched, and proceeds to keep the local funeral homes’ schedules well packed for the next few weeks. We don’t get to see any of it really happen though, as no deaths are shown and all we get to watch is a storm of bullets fired at the monster, all of which have zero effect. Speaking of zero effects, despite the rocket explosion’s incredibly destructive power to turn everyone near it into atoms, Tan escapes unharmed because his hero-of-the-movie badge gives him death exempt status. Used to be, the only two sure things in life were death and taxes. Then tax exemption became a thing and now, so is death exemption, provided you get to headline an action movie as the hero. Not that it worked out so well for Leon in The Professional… but then, that was more of a drama with action elements.
Also like a ’90s American action movie hero, Tan arrives just as Garuda’s about to make a mess of Leena. He spouts what’s guaranteed to be the next great hero catchphrase in “Hey! Die!”, then lays into Gary with a heavy machine gun. I know what you’re thinking: “But, Anubis! If Garuda wasn’t affected by bullets or shotgun shells or explosives or any of that stuff for the entire movie, why would Tan think this machine gun would work any better?!” Well kids, it’s because he’s a hero. And he’s fighting to save the “opposites attract” girl of his dreams. If her personality is strong enough to get him to look past his own bigotry and religious beliefs to fall in love with her and tear the sleeve off of his jacket to bandage a little scratch on her arm, then surely his bullets will fly with the intensity of his determination to save her behind them, thus ending their shared nightmare!
…And they do. Yep. Unlike all of the other guns in the movie (that must’ve been loaded with blanks or rubbers), Tan’s heavy machine gun swiss cheeses the creature’s big manly pecs, shreds one of its wings, and finally, following an extended sequence where he has to save Leena from falling off of the building (she matadored the monster over the edge using the talon necklace, the Garuda’s attraction to which is given no explanation), Big Man Tan puts a single shot between the beast’s eyes to send it tumbling to its final destination at the corner of Corpse Boulevard and Broadway. Just like King Kong. Except Kong was at least shot down by a small squadron of armed planes, not just one guy making an impossibly precise shot with a big unwieldy firearm created for quantity of rounds over quality of accuracy. Lucky for him ‘Rudy inexplicably pauses for a few moments, allowing Mr. T to shoot around Leena (who’s covering up a good half or more of her hero’s shot), with ONE-HAND, and from a sideways position so it’s not even sighted up in ANY WAY. And he even has SO MUCH confidence that the shot’s going to be perfect, that he defiantly shouts “Go get it in the next world!” before pulling the trigger!
This is the type of movie that doesn’t ask you to so much suspend your disbelief, but straight up lynch it. I can’t murder my common sense though! I’d miss it. Logical thinking is already rare enough as it is anymore, so I’d probably be violating the Endangered Species Act if I did. Upon completing Garuda (twice), I’m reminded of the Murray Head song “One Night in Bangkok”, only with some slight alterations:
One viewing of Garuda makes a hard man humble
– Not much between despair and ecstasy
Two viewings of Garuda and the tough guys tumble
– Can’t be too careful with your company
I can feel the devil walking next to me
This movie is absolutely horrible. With even the most minute sliver of doubt. The cgi just burns holes into my soul. Garuda makes the creatures in “Hercules: the Legendary Journeys” look like Jurassic Park. Watching the monster jump around and the actors pretend they’re interacting with it (likely the old “tennis ball on a stick” method) is like staring at the sun. You know you shouldn’t, but you do it anyway to see how long you can hold out before that glowing smudge in your vision becomes permanent.
One thing I haven’t mentioned before now that drives me nuts about the movie is one of the same problems I had while watching 23:59: what’s with all the fucking English dialogue!? Tim’s character speaks fluent Thai, yet he and Leena break into English conversations for no reason! If they were trying to use it as a way to converse without Tan and his men knowing what they were saying, that’s fine. But they don’t. Even more annoying is when it happens in the opening scene, as the French Dr. Jeanvier and his Indian dig partner are speaking English to each other! For fuck’s sake, if you’re trying to market your movie to US audiences with shit like this and the numerous uses of American brands in your product placement spots (Pepsi shows up TWICE, including a plastic cup with the logo on it being thrown at Leena’s dad during a protest against him), you probably should’ve hired some competent FX people to make your titular terror look, you know, terrorizing rather than terrible. American audiences don’t settle for this garbage!
Having openly burned through all of the offerings this shit show has to give already, there’s no real point in going over all of its crimes against humanity again. I will say that it makes for perfect Riff Party material, though. Get friends and/or loved ones together, maybe imbibe a little of the mood enhancing substance of your choice (as a Death God, I literally get high on life), and watch as this clusterfuck falls so far below a zero that it comes back around to a ten like an overzealous kid on a swing. Laughter is the best medicine, so laugh. Laugh at the hard work these people want you to think they put into making it. Laugh so hard that any current cancerous cells leave your body, and all future cancers avoid you for fear of the raging uproarious tremors you will bury them with.
Garuda is so fucking awful and stupid, but it’s cinemasochistic fun. Fitting that it hit theaters on April Fools Day 2004, though I don’t think Thailand celebrates April Fools Day. Maybe? Who cares. It’s all a tangled cat-o-nine tails of ineptitude that hurts so good as it lashes across your back. To make it go down a little easier though, here’s a game to play with those aforementioned substances!
The Officially Official TheTombOfAnubis.Com Unofficial Drinking/Smoking Game: Garuda Edition!
Take a drink/hit during the following moments of the film:
That should be more than enough to get you rightly wasted within the first hour, but if you manage to get to the end credits without blacking out, take a moment to brag to me! Let me know what substance you used and how your experience played out and I’ll add your message(s) of triumph to the review for all to see!
So there you have it: Garuda. The worst thing to come out of Thailand ever, if you don’t count the heroin, HIV, and child prostitution rings.
Okay. I feel better now. Good therapy session. This website is a very complicated version of when people text pics of their bowl-busting brown anacondas to each other. It’s a more socially acceptable way of sharing my shameful experiences and physically destructive consequences with close friends and total strangers in a twisted display of pride. I hope you’ve taken some enjoyment from this bathroom snapshot of Garuda‘s digestively devastating results. Some people think I do myself more harm than good by shoving such raw plutonium straight up my nose, but it’s the kind of pain I gladly prefer to the crippling misery of the real world. Maybe one day I’ll find something better to do with my life. Something that’ll make people proud to share the VonMojo name. But for now, as AC/DC said, “One of these days I’m gonna change my evil ways. Until then, I’m just gonna ride on.”
On that note, I’m aiming to Double Stuf two more episodes of The Tomb in by Halloween, but they’ll be a departure from the World Tour. I’ll be back on the road again in November, starting with India. Until then? Come and knock my door! I’ll be waiting for you! I’ve a lovely space (on my wall) that needs your face! Trick or treating with you!
“Twins, Jack! TWINS!”
“Sweet! This’ll make for an epic bottle opener!”
The special effects shartist’s computer every time he’d start working on Garuda.
Featuring special guest appearances by Stand and Deliver Edward James Olmos! 1992 Shane McMahon! And Jessica Alba!
Given the headphones and glasses, he’s clearly the team’s computer/tech expert. He probably reads manga in his spare time and gets nosebleeds when pretty girls are around too.
“Oh yeah, I’m definitely overcompensating! When the ladies call me the ‘2 inch killer’, they’re not exaggerating!”
Gah! Stop it! You’re gonna give the audience eyeball cancer if you keep doing that!
That’s not water. Pepsi© paid Thailand for the dumping rights to dispose of their unsold Crystal Pepsi™ inventory there. That man’s face will be riddled with tumors in a manner of weeks.
Tim is WAY too excited about being held at gunpoint here. I’d say he’s packing heat of his own, but the idea of Tim with an erection makes me nauseous and all I had to eat today was ghost pepper sauce and Crystal Pepsi™. I’d rather not melt my esophagus bringing all of that back up.
“What an important archaeological discovery! This is clearly Frog Thor (yes, that’s a thing that happened)’s mythological hammer Mjolnir!”
Leena catches sight of Garuda’s penis. She’s quite taken aback.
And there’s Garuda’s penis now! Toldja it was shocking.
And that, gentlemen, is why you don’t shave with a straight razor in the middle of an avalanche.
Also featuring a special appearance by Burgess Meredith from the “Time Enough at Last” episode of “The Twilight Zone”!
Stan’s wife knows how much her menstrual period upsets her husband, so she always pranks him by not telling him when she’s on it before initiating sex! He falls for it every time! Punk’d!
Looks like someone forgot to put the bowl of green M&Ms™ and freezer bag full of cocaine in David Lee Roth’s dressing room before the concert…
It’s an ancient mystical inscription that says “Made in China”.
Why does Garuda look like a bad Photoshop of David Cassidy’s mugshots morphed with Big Bird?
“I thought these would be so cool when I ordered them from Hot Topic. Why the Hell did I pay $86 for them!? Fuck. Maybe I can get a refund…”
“It’s okay Tan, you really don’t need to fuss over me and ruin your shirt for this! It’s just a popped zit. It’ll be fine in a minute!”
Guy Fieri impersonators are shot on sight in Bangkok! And for good reason! Do it! Do it! Do it! DO IT!
“Hello, ‘Mom’s Old Fashioned Mothballs’ consumer complaints line? Yeah, I put my favorite shirt into storage with a full box of your product, and now my sleeve looks like swiss cheese!”
“I really like your ‘Lady Die Hard’ costume, lady! Very sexy! Your cosplay game very pro!”
It’s Batman! Oh wait, it’s just Garuda. Never mind. Nothing to see here, people.
Knowing there’s no hope for a sequel to his own movie, Garuda prepares an audition reel in case Disney ever does a live-action “Gargoyles” movie.
Anubis will return next time in
“It’s Not Easy Having a Good Time”
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.
Featuring: Julian “Warlock” Sands , Elsa “Fast Five” Pataky , John “The Machinist” Sharian
Director: Paco “[REC]” Plaza
Writers: Alberto “Extinction” Marini , Elena “Prime Time Serra , Alfredo Conde
Also Known As: Werewolf Hunter , Werewolf Hunter: The Legend of Romasanta , The Werewolf Manhunt , Romasanta: the Werewolf Hunt
I’d like to thank the gents of The Celluloid Zeroes for letting me horn in on their “Adult Onset Lycanthropy” roundtable. Be sure to check out the rest of the crew’s reviews, as linked at the bottom of this one!
I told you I’d get back to the Fantastic Factory sooner or later! Romasanta was originally supposed to be the cap-off for the “Fantastic Four” reviews thing, but when the AOL ‘table was announced, I thought it better to nudge it back a couple of episodes and put Arachnid in its place (in both contexts). And so here we are! And Julian Sands is here with us! Hooray! From the first time I saw Warlock, to his voice work as the villain in ‘The Jackie Chan Adventures‘ and all the smaller pay days in-between (like Naked Lunch and Tale of a Vampire), I’m always a sucker for a good Sands job. That sounded so much dirtier than intended. Bravo. *golf clap*
What we have here (aside from a failure to communicate) is one of those “based on a true story” flicks that neglects to put the word “loosely” at the beginning of that statement. Or, in cases of stuff like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, “almost not at all”. Romasanta actually keeps it pretty close to the truth, and could even be construed as keeping it absolutely 100 if you’re going by the claims of the eponymous real-life serial killer (Spain’s first, incidentally!) upon which the story is based. Now, who wants to relive one of the most bizarre crimes in the annals of Spanish history with Uncle Anubis?!
No. You can’t sit in my lap anymore. Your parents think it’s inappropriate and I’m not dealing with wild accusations and angry villagers wielding torches because you’re not comfortable sitting on the floor. You don’t like it? Bring a pillow to these things, because I’m not buying a chair. It’s bad enough I let you use my bathroom and eat my Circus Peanuts.
Our tale takes place in the village of Galicia. The year is 1851. Queen Isabella II (Electric Boogaloo) rules the land while both fending off the Carlists who want her dethroned and trying her best to make her marriage with her gay cousin Francisco work (at least that’s what Wikipedia told me). Lacking televisions, the children are babysat/entertained by poorly done puppet shows. Everyone is generally pleased with life, despite the lack of indoor plumbing and constant threat of wolf attacks. Seems Galicia’s been having a lot of the latter lately, so much so that the disappearance of a local bailiff (you know, like Bull from “Night Court”) has been blamed on lupinous ill-intentions. When his body is recovered, ravaged with tooth and claw wounds, a bounty goes into effect for every wolf carcass collected. A plan to promote both populace safety and lower the general fear factor, since nothing motivates the frightened masses better than the clinking of coinage! They go so far as to trap the poor things in cages and shoot them dead in the middle of the market square so everyone can watch. Where’s Princess Mononoke when you need her?! Oh, right. Japan. Never mind.
We’re introduced to Barbara (Elsa Pataky), a lovely young Galician gal, as she goes out to the family barn to check on their animals one night. She finds their pig with its throat ripped out (Oh god! Not Orson!) along with the culprit (an almost jackal-esque wolf) still eating its newly acquired dinner not 10 feet away. The quadrupedal menace growls at her, threatening to make her the next course on the esophageal buffet. Fortunately for Babs, her brother-in-law Manuel (Julian Sands) appears from nowhere in the nick of time to stare down the sinister pooch and send it packing with its literal proverbial tail betwixt its legs. Was it intimidated by the stance of an alpha male, or did wolfy see what happened to Cloquet’s houseboy in Naked Lunch and just think “Yeah… fuck that. Adios!”.
(I was going to post a pic of what did happen to Cloquet’s houseboy, but this completely unrelated Naked Lunch still is funnier)
Manuel is a traveling salesman and transcriber for people who can’t write their own letters. Remember, this is the 19th century. “School House Rock” hasn’t been invented yet. He’s back from the road, much to the relief of wife Maria (Maru Valdivielso), mute daughter Teresa (Luna McGill), and aforementioned s-i-l Barbara, who will feel a lot more secure in the wake of the recent wolf ransacking now that there’s a man (and apparent wolf whisperer) in the house again. His stay won’t be long though, as he’s moving everybody to Santander – a fancier township where they can get a tutor to teach Teresa sign language. Also, though they probably still have wolves there, they’re probably just not so human hungry. Kinda like how Candy Apple Island still has apes, just not as big as the apes on Ape Island.
Everybody’s up for the move, but Maria’s one of those housewives who watches too much “Maury”. She thinks little sister has the skank eye for her Man(uel), so she insists on leaving Barb behind to fend for herself “until they can find a position for her” in their new zip code. When Babs insists on going with them and tries to talk to Manny about it, Mar pulls a knife on her and threatens to gut her if she doesn’t take her exile from the family like a good girl! This went from “Maury” to “Jerry Springer” faster than you can say “Keep it in the family”! Yikes.
Not wanting to see if she can live without her spleen, Barb acquiesces and stays behind, alone in the family farmhouse. Maria wonders if she’s done the right thing, but doesn’t have long to regret her decision, since Manny KILLS HER! Yep. On the way to their new home, the trio stops in the forest to make camp for the night. While Mar’s off bathing (don’t get excited, as “bathing” in this sense involves wearing full pantaloons AND her corset), Mr. Romasanta torments little Teresa by JAMMING TWIGS INTO HER PET BIRD’S EYES (so it flies around manically “like a butterfly”), then sending her off silently screaming into the woods to get caught in a wolf trap, where he finishes her off by JAMMING STICKS INTO HER EYES TOO! I’m a heartless monster, but even I can’t get behind child abuse like that. Jesus fuck biscuits! Anyway, Maria finds her, but has her mourning cut short when the camera lunges at her horrified visage before cutting to black. You know, that multipurpose Evil Dead technique that builds suspense by not showing you who/what is attacking her, while also saving a few Pesetas by not having to pony up for a monster suit that won’t look like a pile of shit and zippers when shot in daylight.
Galicia’s District Attorney, Luciano (Gary Piquer, looking kinda like Viggo Mortensen in a beard), is determined to get to the bottom of these killings. Apparently the D.A.s back then didn’t just do court stuff, they doubled as the Sheriff. To help him sniff out the true culprit(s) behind these killings and keep this wolf hunt from becoming a witch hunt, Lucy calls for outside help in the form of Algerian man-of-science Professor Philips (David Gant). Dr. Phil provides some classic insight into 19th century criminology, like how big headed sweaty guys are always guilty because they can’t control their natural affinity toward evil. In my case, that’s very true. He also believes that through physical and mental manipulation, these people need not be executed, but can be rehabilitated. When the town’s tribunal tasks him with proving the legitimacy of his science, Phil uses said lawmaker as an example and sticks a couple of needles into his brow line, causing him to sob uncontrollably. How this proves that the Moisty McPumpkinSkull they’ve pulled in as a suspect could be a serial killer, I have no clue, but I didn’t study at 19th Century Doctor College. I earned the Leeching Bachelor’s degree on my wall by watching The Giant Leeches.
Prof Philips is also well versed in the coronery arts, not to be confused with the “culinary arts” or “coronary arts”, so don’t. Through his autopsies of the victims (preserved in coffins filled with salt), he drops the unsettling knowledge that one of the bodies, a 14 year-old girl who kinda resembles the now deceased Teresa, was also the recipient of a postmortem custard pumping. This means that not only is our killer a hebephiliac, but also a necrophiliac…making him some kind of necrohebephiliphiliac. Queasy.
An expensive earring was also discovered on the body, meaning that she was from a well-to-do village elsewhere. Since wolves eat their prey where they find it (too stuck up for doggy bags), obviously they wouldn’t have dragged this girl all the way here from wherever she was killed. Even if, I’m pretty sure most wolves don’t rape their dinner after they’ve killed it either. Unless of course it was a Wall Street wolf, as they’re pretty abhorrent sexual deviants if the legends are to be true. *rimshot* No, necrophilia on a teenage girl seems more like the kind of nightmarish horror nature reserves for humans…or otters. Seriously, look up the dark acts those furry little motherfuckers get up to after dark. You’ll wanna round ’em up and throw ’em all into a giant blender after you do. As Lord Byron famously put it, “I shit you not”.
Philips also finds that the bodies have wounds consistent with not only teeth and claws, but also knife incisions! Curiously enough, they’ve also been relieved of all of their body fat. Though this sounds like the result of some radical fucking medieval liposuction, everybody who saw/read Fight Club gun jumped to the immediate conclusion I did: somebody’s making soap. Given that soap is still a luxury item at this time, who do we know that sells luxury items? That’s a bingo. Our killer has a name-o. And it’s the title of the movie. Which we already know by this point because we just got done watching Manuel Romasanta kill his wife and daughter. Such is the problem when we’re watching a murder mystery that already shows us who the killer is: there’s nothing for us to figure out and we just sit back and wait for Manny to start killing people like it’s just another slasher movie. Blart.
Speaking of Manfred, he returns to Galicia the following morning, bearing gifts for his dear s-i-l. Barbara wakes up to the tune of an ornate music box and the sight of an extravagant gold dress. After she puts the dress on and starts eyeball fucking herself in her mirror, Manny creeps up on her and gets all squeezey and strokey on her neck and clavicle, telling her how beautiful she is. In a classier way than when I woo a woman by whispering stuff like “You’re curing my ED.” or “I wish you weren’t married right now” into her ear on the subway. Barb asks the smooth talker just how many women he’s knocked the boots off of, to which he offers up the usual verbal evasive maneuvering every double-dipping Don Juan pulls out in times of interrogation, all the while seeing the faces of his presumed victims in the mirror. Barb catches sight of her sibling’s guilt-inducing visage in the looking glass though, and talks herself out of engaging in any of Manuel’s infidelity. If I had a dollar for every time some spook cockblocked me, I’d have enough to buy one of those PornHub twerking Terminator butts. I know what’s going on my Cthulhumas wish list!
Manny tells Barb that her sister and niece are fine and dandy in Santander, and that Maria’s even procured her a job! See, if we didn’t know that he’d already killed his wife and daughter, this would’ve worked much better. Instead of getting the big reveal at the end though, now we just watch him perv on the young object of his affections while wondering how far it goes before Barb insists on seeing her loved ones. Though milady’s hormones are haunted by the disapproving, cunt-punting, sister specter (no doubt just an embodiment of her guilty groin), it takes all of an hour or two for her to exorcise that loin phantom. During her morning bath, Manny creeps up on her again, this time giving her an erotic washing in the tub that leads to some submarinal stimulation of the clitoral variety. Even when he gives her the moral out and pulls his hand away, she gives him the “Oh, you are NOT fucking done yet, mister!” look and pulls his hand back between her thighs, putting the “sensual” in “consensual”. Manny must be a helluva marksman, cuz his fingerbang game hits the bullseye! Fingerbang! Bang bang bang!
Though the identity of our serial murderer is never in doubt, the exact origins of his situation are brought into question during a flashback sequence. We see Manny pick up an injured farmer along the road (back then they only had one road and it went to every town and it was uphill both ways in 6 feet of snow) and offer to take him to the next town to get treated for the sickle wound he’s suffered. Determined that the guy won’t make it, Romy (sans Michelle) offers to write up a goodbye letter for him and deliver it to his soon-to-be widow. Farmer Fred gives up the ghost mid-sentence, so our suavely sinister lead fills it in with some really schmaltzy shite about how her butt won’t quit and $5 chewy pretzels or something. He delivers the message and worms his way into filling the now gaping hole in her life…and any other holes that could use a good stiff tending to (said with a perverse “heh heh heh” and a liberal “humpin’ thrust” motion).
This brings to question exactly how it is that Manuel got involved with Maria. Was Teresa his biological daughter or his stepdaughter? The movie stays pretty obtuse on the topic, thought I’d like to think that it’s intentional. Whatever his true relation to Barb’s family, while Romasanta continues his seduction of his s-i-l, a goon with a scarred face trespasses on their property and attempts to shoot him in the back! No surprise, as said goon has a massive dome and looks like the type of person who’s constantly wiping his sweaty palms on his pants. Seeing the (hilariously computer generated) glint off the rifle first, Barb throws herself into the line of fire and takes one for her man. The mystery mongoloid slips away while Manuel takes her inside and extracts the slug of silver from her back, saving her life. He picks this as the most appropriate time to declare that his life belongs to her, but the most inappropriate time to gift her a lovely little necklace in thanks. A necklace that he lifted from Teresa’s neck right before he murdered her! Giving your new girlfriend a prized trinket stolen from her beloved relative is the only thing worse than giving her an engagement ring with your ex’s name still etched in the band, and this guy fucking does it! That’s a whole new level of dick move, and that’s coming from one of the King Dongs of dicks! For shame on you, Mr. ‘Santa. Hell, FIVE shame on you, you bastard.
Naturally Bar recognizes the bauble (taken from her only freaking niece!) so that night, while her new fuck buddy is copping some z’s, she goes snooping through his caravan. Under a loose floorboard, Nancy Drew finds a small chest of misappropriated valuables, along with some not exactly clear but very official looking documentation with Teresa and Maria’s names on them. I thought they were death certificates at first, but my Evil Dead Bride suggests that they may be the gals’ wills. But, would a child even have a will? Whatever the case, no sooner does Bar put everything back, then someone cartjacks her! Wait…so Manuel leaves his horses tied to the cart at night? What the fuck?! That’s the 19th century version of leaving the keys in the ignition and the doors unlocked! His insurance company won’t be paying a dime on this claim…
During the kerfuffle, Babs is tossed around worse than someone trying to get to the toilet on a Greyhound. No diggity. Indiana Jones has an easier time crossing rope bridges. And trying to piss standing up while it’s doing 65 on the highway without getting it all over your shoes? It should be part of the initiation process to get into fucking Skull & Bones! Anyway, a dropped lantern turns the whole thing into a mobile inferno, with our de facto heroine (who’s not exactly a bastion of morality since she’s having an affair with her dead sister’s husband) managing a literal leap of faith that would make Zoe Bell pop a thumbs up. She’s immediately accosted by Lumpy Scarface, who rips off a piece of her dress, rubs it on his face saying “they’ll follow me”, and runs off into the woods to play decoy, shouting to attract the attention of the baying wolves echoing in the night.
The next morning, she wakes up to find the galoot has since returned, and he enlightens her as to his origin story. His name is Antonio, and he used to be a common thief. One day, while burgling a church, he was confronted by a wolf (I still say the wolves around here look more like jackals) that shrugged off a point-blank gunshot like it was the world’s mildest beer belch. In retaliation, it attacked this clearance rack Randy Couture and brought him into the brotherhood of the wolf (different movie). After engaging in a few co-murders with his new barking bro, Tony became so overwhelmed with guilt that he now hunts Romasanta to bring an end to the monster and maybe get his own curse lifted by scoring a few redemption points from Jehovah while he’s at it.
When Barb goes with him to the constables to corroborate his story about the WolfManuel (see what I did there?), they declare Tony as clearly insane and have him locked up. No doubt his big fat head and damp mitts gave him away. They practically caught him
red wet handed, wakka-wakka! Despite Antonio’s detaining, D.A. Lucy believes Babs enough to put out the 1850s equivalent of an APB on Romasanta before sending her home. While there, she finds a stash of Manny’s stuff, including letters he had transcribed for his many girlfriends to their families, but never delivered. It’s not explained whether he intended to deliver these later, was keeping them as mementos of his conquests (serial killers are weird like that), or just hadn’t gotten around to burning them yet, but they serve as the perfect plot twist excuse to turn Babs vigilante and put her on his trail. She takes off across the countryside, returning the letters to their original senders and asking around about any recent Romy sightings. As you can guess, it turns out this traveling salesman has a different alias in every town, and now that his new squeeze is ratting him out, it’s time to start cutting ties with all of these other girlfriends. Along with their throats, abdomens and whatever else he feels like severing.
Ladies, when a man is willing to murder all of his other girlfriends to be with you, it means you’re his Jet Li/Neo. You’re the One.
Back at the nuthouse, the doctors tell Tony that he’s not now, nor has he ever been a werewolf. He’s simply a delusional psychopath who was manipulated by Manuel into being his murder amigo. The Ottis Toole to his Henry Lee Lucas. The Tex Watson to his Charles Manson. The Ringo to his rest-of-The Beatles! With the second banana’s help, the man(uel)hunt gets a lead on where the killing spree could be heading next: a middle of nowhere town wherein the killer is cornered while doing day laborer work, reaping in a wheat field. For a scene where so many people are wielding scythes and sickles, there’s a disappointing lack of dismemberment to be had. Despite managing to evade the 5-0, Santa doesn’t run off like a smart fugitive would. Instead he takes the opportunity to confront his lady love (she fell behind the rest of the posse when her gunshot wound re-opened), who holds him at arm’s length with the tip of a sickle planted firmly in his neck. Whether her restraint is because she still loves him somewhere in her head, she wants to let the judicial system deal with him, or she just wants to know how her body rates next to the 30 or so other baked potatoes he was slinging his sour cream with (I’m presuming from experience, not sexist stereotypes), she keeps him there until the constabulary circle back around and take him into custody. The tension of this scene makes it a real “shut up and take notice!” moment. The intensity on Barb’s face sold me on Pataky as not just a likeable and lovely lady actor, but as someone who can act the living Hel out of such a scene with just her face. Between that and Plaza’s direction, it’s insta-boner stuff that puts movies with five times its production values to shame.
Manny’s taken back to Galicia and put on trial while a ravenous gang of villagers screams for his head outside the courthouse. They sadly lack the torches, pitchforks, and nooses you come to expect from angry Victorian Era mobs. Besides, why would there be multiple nooses? Did Steve, Randy and Carl ALL think it was their turn as “noose guy” in the rotation? Or is Randy known for using cheap rope when it’s his turn, so Steve and Carl just thought it prudent to bring back ups so as not to let Randy’s thrifty tendencies ruin another perfectly good lynching? “Damn it, Randy! You do this EVERY time!”
At trial, “the Werewolf of Allariz”’s defense is that he’s innocent and it’s Mother Nature who’s responsible for his crimes. Typical self-entitled cunt, always blaming his parents for his choice to be an asshole. Where he comes from (Allariz), it’s well known that the 9th born son of any family is touched by the Devil, and being his father’s 9th son that makes him inherently (or inheritedly in this case) evil. His transformation into the wolf is his malediction, and since a wolf’s natural instinct is to kill, it’s not his fault that he kills people when he’s furry and four-legged. He says he can be saved, and that his love for Barbara is the cure to the curse. Their relationship is the only thing that’s ever given him regret for his crimes and he didn’t feel the urge to kill a single person for the few days he spent romancing/fingerbanging her. To test this claim, the Professor (and Mary Ann?) puts him under hypnosis and he’s taken to the forest so the tribunal can witness his transformation into a bloodthirsty fleabag…or just watch a grown man play make believe. Santa recreates his actions during the murder of Maria and Teresa and guess what? No transformation. Not a physical one anyway. Sands’ portrayal of said recreation is either grand drama or pure scenery munchery. I’m not entirely sure which, but it’s definitely something worth watching!
Phillips diagnoses Romasanta with Adult Onset Lycanthropy (take a shot!), in that a strong emotional trigger turns him into a ravenous maniac. So, he becomes a metaphorical “wolf man”, rather than a literal one like more superstitious (i.e., dumb) people would believe. Thus, Phillips believes Manuel’s not only not responsible for the crimes he committed but can be rehabbed, thus Dr. P recommends to the judges that Romy be given over to the custody of the sanitarium. As with any cop, this puts Luciano on the express strain to FUCK YOU! Town, as his moral code of black & white (insert joke about racist cops here) says there’s no excuse for criminal acts and Roms needs to be imprisoned, followed by a nice public execution so justice can be served! I’m waiting for him to pull a Dirty Harry or a Frank Castle and just put a bullet between Manuel’s pretty blue eyes before this is over.
The court’s verdict? Manuel is to be remanded to the asylum’s custody pending further investigation. While there, he starts to pen his memoirs until he’s interrupted by Babs (wow, way to go security) who brings a silver knife to a love fight. She falters when Manny declares she can’t kill him because her heart won’t let her, but hopeless romantics tend to underestimate the overpowering lust for revenge. His lady love sheathes her pig sticker into her boyfriend’s pancreas, albeit with tears in her eyes. He falls to the floor, uttering his last words to her as some poetic b.s. about love and death before he says hello to Oblivion (“Hello, Oblivion!”) and fades to black. I’m as wrapped up in the words of wooing (not to be confused with Ric Flair’s words of “WOO!”ing) as the next tragic love story lead, but I’m pretty sure my final line to my girlfriend-turned-executioner would’ve been some variation of “AHHHH! FUCK! YOU FUCKING KILLED ME, YOU CUNT! I HOPE YOU DIE UGLY AND ALONE, YOU SELFISH BITCH!”. I can be a real prick when it comes to girlfriends gutting me though, literally and figuratively.
When the pork people discover him DOA, Lucy sees no need to investigate, likely chalking it up to a Willy Loman (*wink*wink*), but possibly going with the old “self defense” excuse after they put a gun in his hand and a bag of angel dust in his pocket. Like Bruce Hornsby put, that’s just the way it is, some things will never change. Funny how people who clamor for by-the-books justice are always the first to go rogue when said “justice” doesn’t fit their personal definition. I mean, this wasn’t even a case of a crooked judge or a slimy lawyer getting a serial rapist off the hook because the arresting officer wouldn’t let him wash his hands before cuffing them! The criminologist that he himself brought in to help with the investigation says that Romasanta’s insanity plea is legit, so Deputy Dog’s all “Fuck your science! Let’s get this guy dead as soon as possible!” and lets a vengeful citizen do the wet work for him while he covers for her! Justice? More like “just us”… best of luck explaining that one to yourself, because I’m foggier than The Fog on it, myself. Just random words!
The movie wraps with Barbara attending Manuel’s burial in the pouring rain (and wearing all black, so she’s clearly mourning her admissible retaliation), with the aftertext telling us that the real life Romasanta story played out much the same as what we just saw. The few exceptions being that his alleged accomplice Antonio was never found and Manuel was originally given a death sentence until Dr. Phillips petitioned the Queen to convert it to life in prison instead, due to his suffering from Lycanthropy. While he was awaiting a full pardon, though, Romasanta died in prison of “unknown causes”. The admirable dedication to the reality of the tale is no surprise, since script writer Alfredo Conde also wrote the fictional novel, The Uncertain Memoirs of a Galician Wolfman: Romasanta. Oh yeah, Conde’s also a descendant of one of the doctors involved in the original “Werewolf of Allariz” court case that took place in 1853/54 in Galicia, Spain! That’s some seriously cool pedigree to have for your “based on a true story” horror movie.
Before Romasanta, I thought Dagon was the only greatness to wade from the tar pit of bad-to-mediocre known as Fantastic Factory. But now? Holy shit. We’ve got a new #1 contender. As such, Dagon and Romasanta will be battling it out in a steel cage surrounded by jackals inside of a flaming steel cage surrounded by crocodiles for the Fantastic Factory Undisputed Championship Title! Or they can just share the awesome and serve as co-ambassadors for the non-existent campaign to bring the Factory back. Hell, Brian Yuzna’s been up to pretty much nothing since their doors closed, so we know he’s free! Now, where can we dig up a few millions dollars?
Aside from a plot hole here and there, an unanswered question or two, the story is good. I would’ve preferred more of a mystery with the whole thing, but the tale of Manuel and Barbara is a good one. It technically counts as a romance too, so next time your marital relations partner(s) want to watch something romantic, try and slip this into the rotation. It’s like a finger in the ass – you won’t know for sure until you try! However, if it doesn’t work the first time, don’t try it again. You might not get your finger (or DVD) back.
Paco Plaza’s direction is appropriately fantastic, no pun intended. As stated prior, PP (huh huh) makes this under the radar period piece look like something double its budget. There’s a single transformation scene (a flashback as told by Antonio) where we watch wolf Manuel turn back into his human form and it’s an excellent sequence. All practical effects, decidedly slimy “shedding your second skin” moment, cool “paws become hands” stuff, and a simple but effective beginning where the canine’s fur just washes off in chunks in the rain. My compliments to the chef(s)!
As far as the casting goes, I have no complaints about anyone involved, and nothing but praise for Miss Pataky. I was expecting Julian Sands to be the only standout in a cast of people I’d never heard of, but she was so likeable and intense and dramatic and DAMN was she good! To paraphrase Roger in Dawn of the Dead, she got this by the ASS! One of the review blurbs I read after watching referred to it as a “performance making role”, and I’m inclined to throw my thumbs up in agreement. She’s since become a reoccurring character in the last three Fast & Furious movies, so though I’ll never watch them, I’m happy to know that she’s making big fat Hollywood franchise money for her talents. Julian Sands definitely fits the title role because he’s handsome enough to be a ladykiller, but also has a nose that helps you believe this dude’s face elongates into a muzzle from time to time. He still pulls off the seductive thing in his advanced age too, so all the more reason he lives up to the part. His performance is pretty non-assuming for the most, but when it comes time for him to really get into the crazy, he definitely makes it a spectacle! Everyone else earns their paychecks and I had nothing to complain about. A backhanded praise to some, but believe me, a perfectly serviceable cast is a rare thing considering how bad some of the ensembles in prior Factory flicks turned out.
I’m REALLY happy I didn’t wait to do an episode on this one. It’s a slasher movie disguised as a werewolf flick done as a character study. Really well made, well acted, and if it weren’t for the disjointed story moments and sometimes inconsistent pacing, I’d say it was due for a golden feather. As is though, I’ll gladly give it a well-deserved 4 out of 5!
Next time I’ll be getting back on track with the World Tour de Farce. Where will I go and what will I see? The surprise is part of the fun! Until then, be sure to check out the other Adult Onset Lycanthropy reviews that the Celluloid Zeroes have in store for you! Keep those silver bullets warm and always carry some Wolfsbane in your socks, trucker fuckers! Don’t wanna get caught solajwf (shit outta luck and jolly well fucked). Ciao!
3B Theater: Micro-Brewed Reviews – Curse of the Black Widow
Checkpoint Telstar – The Bat People
Cinemasochist Apocalypse – Kibakichi
Las Peliculas de Terror – The Evil Within
Psychoplasmics – An American Werewolf in London
The Terrible Claw Reviews – Sssssss
Web of the Big Damn Spider – Summer School
“Please don’t tell me you’re the Publisher’s Clearing House people! I am NOT TV ready! Can you come back in an hour!?”
Surgeon General’s Warning: NEVER eat an entire box of Gushers Fruit Snacks on your own. There’s just too much fruit juicy flavor for one person.
Oh great, now that my cousin Scratch has had a cameo in a movie we’ll never hear the end of it at Cthulhumas. No surprise though, he always was the “looker” of the pack.
Looks like the local Chinese buffet is stocking up on “beef” for the weekend rush.
“Ladies! Ladies! Please stop fighting! There’s enough Mr. Ed for the both of you!”
“ARGH! DAMN IT, TERESA! I TOLD YOU NOT TO LEAVE YOUR LEGOS LAYING AROUND ON THE FLOOR ANYMORE!”
“…and so, gentlemen of this tribunal, in the case of “Who Smelt It v. Who Dealt It”, I give you your smeller AND dealer!”
“Your neck is so beautiful, so long, so… uggh! What is that, a skin tag?! Gross. You should have that burned off. It looks infected!”
“Why?! Why would you think I’d want to see nude photos of Carrot Top bathing in tapioca pudding?! I have a child here for God’s sake!”
He looks exactly how I feel after I’ve been touching raw chicken skin. Like one of King Kong’s loogies, or the guest of honor at a kaiju bukkake party. Uggh!
Ah, the all too familiar morning after moment of “What did I do last night?!” mixed with “I am NEVER doing Jägerbombs again!”.
“Look, I’m sorry I jumped to the conclusion that you’re only angry because you’re on your period, but… I mean… well… aren’t you on your period?!”
I know that look well. That’s the look my Evil Dead Bride gives me when we’ve had a fight, I make a really dumb joke, and she tries her best to stifle the laugh so she doesn’t lose the “angry upperhand”. She always laughs though… except that one time… I really miss my left testicle.
“With my new invention, the cranium re-sizerator, men and women need never worry about their hats being too small or too large again! Their skull will always be the perfect size!”
Anubis will return next time in
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Featuring: Temeura “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones” Morrison , Nicola “The Man Who Lost His Head” Kawana , Kate “No One Can Hear You” Elliott
Director: Danny “Rage” Mulheron
Writers: Brad “RoboCop: Prime Directives” Abraham , Joseph “RoboCop: Prime Directives” O’Brien , Briar Grace “The Strength of Water” Smith
Origin: New Zealand
Today’s stop on the World Tour de Farce 2015 has the 3rd largest percentage of vehicular deaths in the world! 20% of their deaths are due to tobacco smoking, and this is actually DOWN by 1/3 from what it was in the ’90s! Their sheep population outnumbers their human population 7-to-1! If human and sheep DNA were compatible, they’d be a nation of Satyr-like hybrid creatures who could knit their own sweaters in the winter! Oh yeah, and for all you big nerd-os, they also have this thing:
Tolkienites, start your whacking, because that’s the Green Dragon Inn. Yes, you can travel to New Zealand and live out all of your Tolkien-based role play fantasies in this replica of Middle Earth’s most famous motor(less) lodge. All the furry footjobs, hobbit holing, androgynous elf orgies, and dwarf sex (with ACTUAL dwarves!) you could ever ask for. While you’re there, surprise your lady with a Stinger! It’s basically just a Shocker, but you paint your hand Day-Glo blue first, call her “Shelob”, and hum while you’re doing it.
So, yes. We’re in New Zealand. Kiwi country. The island nation’s only major contribution to my life has been Peter Jackson, who helped make my high school years a little more tolerable through his brilliantly bat guano creations Bad Taste, Meet the Feebles, and Braindead/Dead Alive. Speaking of those delightfully gore-soaked off-the-wall horror-comedies, today’s feature is in the same vein *wink*wink*.
Before we begin though, it’ll help to have a crash course on the Maori. Actually, we don’t even need a crash course, as a simple summary will do: they’re the NZ equivalent of the US’s Native Americans. They were there first, Europeans came and took over, they were persecuted and poisoned and had their land pillaged, and they’re now treated as second class citizens. I’ll never understand racism, but then I also have a fully functional set of chromosomes and just enough self-esteem and sense of responsibility that I don’t blame my problems and mistakes on others. I am forever denied the bliss of ignorance. Oh well.
Our story begins at the St. Agnes Boarding School for Young Maori Ladies. Like any school that caters strictly to those of the feminine persuasion in the sinema, St. Aggy’s is a lesbo factory, helping to keep the local population down by turning otherwise normal teenage girls into stark raving homosexuals bent on smoking jazz cigarettes and scissoring each other until their vile acts of heathenish self-indulgence summon forth the Morning Star, who will plunge the world into Armageddonous HELL ON EARTH!
Or, here’s a novel idea, it could just be that lesbians are most likely to embrace and explore their genetic disposition for loving the company of other ladies in a place where the hetero pressures of the outside world to be “normal” are minimized to be almost entirely nonexistent, and the likelihood of meeting others like themselves is increased a few hundred fold. It’s not a choice. But being a shit-ass who ruins other peoples’ lives with fear and hatred is. Now go practice not being a scumbag, otherwise I’ll turn your brain A Clockwork Orange and give you the “Full Alex” in front of an endless loop of clips from “Mister Rogers” and “Sesame Street”.
Rather than do a typical rundown of the drama to be had, I’ll be avoiding excessive spoilers by introducing you to the characters themselves first, then getting into whatever nitty and/or gritty and/or titty that remains after. Savvy? Spiffy.
Rina Crane (Hanna Tevita) – our beautiful, barely legal heroine. The opening credits give both her attitude and effort ratings of “Excellent”! She’s a sarcastic little smart-ass artist type student at St. Agnes. She also draws her own comic book characters, making her a Maori Darlene Conner and I’m a little in love with her because of it. Rina’s favorite color is pink (less like Barbie’s convertible and more like the inside of a rare steak); her favorite foods are clam, feline, carpet, and box; despite having never played a woodwind instrument she excels at fingering; and her favorite activity on the swim team is the muff dive. I’d say it’s something of a spoiler by being blunt and telling you she’s a lesbian, but LITERALLY within the first 90 seconds of the movie she’s having nekkid shower time with another girl! I’m talking bare ass and boobs faster than you can say “They have lesbians in New Zealand?”. It’s nothing exploitative either. It’s all soft touches and smiles and gentle lathering while a pleasant track of something you’d hear in Bikini Bottom plays in the background. It’s almost too adorable to masturbate to!
Rina hasn’t come out to her family and friends back home yet. For now she just drops subtle hints, like when dad asks her if she’s been keeping clear of the all-boys schools, she replies with “I’m not even interested in boys… I’m too busy!”. Ah, the words every father used to want to hear their daughter say… back in the ’40s. Speaking of dear old dad…
Hemi Crane (Temuera “Jango Fett!” Morrison) – crazy-looking (but well dressed) father to Rina. His field of study (in which the best he’s managed is an Associates Degree) is the history and traditions of their Maori ancestors and the attempt to keep them alive in the wake of the pale skins’ crushing gentrification of this, their native land. Hemi’s successfully authored 5 papers and 3 books on the subject!… all of which were self-published… and all of which were total boondoggles, selling less copies than those weird niche books you see at Dollar Fandango about the Economics of Crossfit and housewife-on-a-budget stuff where a guardian angel falls in love with the woman he’s assigned to watch over. Hem’s in a constant state of denial, but his pride won’t let him accept these failures, of which those around him are sure to point out. His obsession over their ancestors’ “savage” ways has progressed to the point of re-establishing the long dead Maori cult of the Solomonites, named for the last “pure” Maori – Tommy Solomon. Pretty sure the cult is a product of this movie only, and are named as such for the way you can almost make it sound like “sodomites”. Not unlike the quote that opens this review!
Margaret Crane (Nicola Kawana) – mother to Rina. She’s a celebrity chef with a successful TV show! Like her betrothed she’s also a published author. Unlike her betrothed she’s successful, with 15 cookbooks and an autobiography under her belt. I wouldn’t mind a trip under her belt myself *wink*wink*nudge*nudge*. Hubba hubba! Hem’s more than a little jealous of Marge’s success, and attempts to use her cooking show as a way to promote his failed writing ventures. Also, she may or may not have had a well-publicized affair with her publisher. Margie gets the unenviable task of telling Rina about the little dietary lifestyle change the family has undertaken in her academic absence as a result of their conversion to Solomanism – they’re cannibals now!
Glenn Crane (Kahn West, not to be confused with the Kanye of similar monicker) – brother to Rina. He’s still in high school, where he spends a lot of time playing cricket and… that’s about all there is to him, really. Glenn spends most of the movie in his yellow vest and pleated white pants, which has gotta be the wimpiest sports uniform you’ll ever see. He does get some of the better lines in the script though, so good for him.
Shaun Armstrong (Will Robertson) – childhood friend to Rina. Shaun’s the token white male friend who likes to say he’s “Maori at heart” and goes to excessive lengths to immerse himself in the natives’ ways in an effort to dismiss his genetic pallor and identify more with Rina’s ethnic background. He’s the Middle Earth version of a whigger. Shaun’s been holding a crush on Rina since puberty and has convinced himself that her return to the hometown will finally be the moment of their storied journey where she realizes she’s in love with him too and they live happily ever after. Awww, I remember what it was like being that naive. Medical books call it Ducky Syndrome. The years of self-delusion via wishful thinking almost make up for the crippling heartbreak when you realize that they’ll never be able to view you romantically, and that torch you spent half your life carrying finally catches your shirt sleeve on fire and turns your arm into a mangled mess of beef jerky. Though I can identify with the guy, even I would push him out of a second story window if given half the chance.
Ritchie Tan (Leand Macadaan) – life changing catalyst to Rina. Ritchie’s a big ol’ Pacific Islander lookin’ dude (everyone thinks he and his brother have “Made in China” stamped on their asses) who’s been sentenced to 12 years in prison for murder, kidnapping, and selling fruit without a license. See, I was going to make some kind of funny little comment in there about a whimsical crime he might have committed, just because it was the perfect place to slip in a finger, errrr, joke. Then that “selling fruit without a license” thing popped up and sandbagged me. Such is the problem when reviewing a horror-comedy: competing with the movie’s built-in jokes! It’s easier with common denominator garbage like A Haunted House, cuz that crap biscuit couldn’t make me laugh if it filled my pants with Cool Whip and cracked me in the funny bone with a clown hammer.
Before Mr. Tan can start his stretch in the iron bars hotel (or whatever the Klink’s called down there… and I don’t mean Colonel), his bumbling cohorts in criminal activities dynamite the delivery van tasked with hauling his ample ass to Kiwi Alcatraz. Said suicide squad consists of dipshit demolition man Johnny (Jack Sergent-Shadbolt… what the fuck is a “Shadbolt”?), Ritchie’s uzi-slinging shortfuse spazoid junior sibling Paulie (Ralph Hilaga), and ‘Chie’s shotgun happy femme-fatale girlfriend Gigi (Kate Elliot) who, as a former army cunt, has more balls in her left pocket than the 3 boys she runs with carry combined. They’re packing raisins in a hanky, and she’s wielding billiards in Lord Humungus’s studded leather jock. Fuck with her not ‘lest you’ve grown weary of respiration.
Now that we’ve met The Fresh Meat Players, on with our show!
The gang’s little pre-jailbreak hits a snafu when their getaway car breaks down, leading them to seek shelter in the Crane family’s open garage before they can be spotted by a search helicopter. And just like that, we’ve got a hostage situation…just moments after Rina has discovered a human hand marinating in the fridge…which Mum and Da do not try to pass off as a very realistic jell-o mold, the way you’d expect them to in a comedy. On the Sticky Situations Scale, this rates a “naked sorority girls wearing caramel bikinis wrestling in a bed of cotton candy, then reverse gangbanging the cycloptic tar monsters from that episode of ‘Scooby-Doo Where Are You?‘”.
Who’s gonna come out of this mess alive? Will ANYONE come out of it alive? With a house full of cannibals and killers, which side do you root for!?
Fresh Meat is an oddball of a movie to take in. It’s like a New Zealand comedy rendition of 1996’s Real Killers, without the “oh so ’90s” Dia de los Muertos harlequin skull face makeup jobs and with a lot more wacky cannibalism hijinks. If this movie had had a few dozen scenes of characters dissecting American pop culture, you could also mistake it for a Tarantino movie. Hell, the soundtrack’s even littered with beach party music and the epilogue is a big “we love horror movies too!” homage ending scene that you’re not sure you should enjoy for being just random and referential enough that it works, or give a wet razz to for jamming it’s tongue straight through your cheek and out the other side.
Jango Fett is the real stand out of the movie, as he chews scenery with almost as much aplomb as his character does human flesh. The rest do their thing with talent and competency, but I’m way too lazy right now to call out every individual performance. Sorry, folks. I’m sure you won’t need much therapy to resolve getting passed over by some unimportant Yankee in his review of your movie that will get 10 reads at best. The other few hundred page views will just be perverts who found this by Googling “Scooby-Doo reverse gangbang”, much to the disappointment of their psychologically abused libidos.
Whatever your feelings on the movie as a whole, it’s more than a little weird to watch as a left-leaning American Death God. If Fresh Meat were made in the US, the Cranes would be Native Americans and things would probably be shut down by the PC police before principal shooting started. I’d probably side with the Native Americans on this one too. I mean, Hemi’s got a line where he makes sure to point out, “We’re not Maori cannibals, we’re just cannibals who happen to be Maori!”, but even if, it still feels like kicking someone after years of already holding them down and taking everything they own, then excusing it by saying “I’m not doing this to you because you’re an Indian, you just happen to be an Indian I’m doing this to!”. Or maybe my heart’s just bleeding today and I should “get over it”. Speaking of which, kudos to Parker and Stone for their Redskins episode of “South Park”. Thank you.
Politics and liberal guilt aside, I don’t have a whole lot else to say about the movie itself. It may be a tad long in the runtime, but without ruining things for would-be viewers, I can’t really say much else. So, instead, I thought I’d ramble on for a few more paragraphs due to a lack of anything better to do. As such, let’s start with some fun firearm and human biology facts taught to us by today’s educational feature, Fresh Meat:
Now you know, and knowing is half the battle!
What’s a battle?
Did that boy just say “What’s a battle?”?
No. He said “What’s that rattle?”. It’s about the heating duct.
Hmm, it sounded like “battle”.
I’ve had a cold, so–
Oh so you would hear ‘r’s as ‘b’s?
And that ladies and germs, is why “Simpsons” exchanges aren’t nearly as funny when textualized.
Ending on a bit of random info, in case you ever land on a pink square while playing Trivial Pursuit: NZ Edition, director Danny Mulheron (who’d probably enjoy my labeling him as “Kiwi Tarantino”) was the man inside of Heidi the Hippo (take that as you will [she sure did! Wakka wakka!]) in Peter Jackson’s iconic muppet massacre of pre-mainstream depravity, Meet the Feebles! Not really much of a surprise that he’d worked for Jackson at some point, as everybody in New Zealand has at one time or another by now. Even more interesting is Mulheron’s turn as Blighty Tater in the 1989 TV series “Worzel Gummidge Down Under” which, to be honest (something my Evil Dead Bride would assure doesn’t happen often), I would have no fucking clue what a Worzel Gummidge even was if it weren’t for watching scads of OSW Review (>>>Splicey Splicey<<<) reruns. Whovians take note, though, because the titular straw golem of the series was played by none other than John Pertwee, AKA the Third Doctor, AKA the voice of Spottyman in one of my childhood favorite cartoonies – “SuperTed”! Holy shit, I gotta go see if there’s any “SuperTed” on YouTube after this…
Oh, and on a FINAL final note, before I leave this land of beauty and wonder to travel to my next stop in the Grand Prix of global movie mocking, whatever happened to Old Zealand?…
On a FINAL finally final final note: For anyone not privy to the inspiration for my alternate title on this episode, I yield the floor to Mr. Frederick Krueger circa his lauded line reading from The Bard’s A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master. Take it away, Pizza Face!
“Deputy Head Girl” sounds like a position better suited for a co-ed school… Also, her parents wanted the doctor to put “Aloha” as her middle name on the birth certificate, but he was Chinese. Ouch.
Was the all girls school he sent her to a Stewardess School by chance? Look at that uniform!
“Didn’t you used to sell bootleg DVDs outside of the downtown Dunkin’ Donuts? You got the new Adam Sandler movie?!”
Paulie finally hits his breaking point with people trying to sell him used panties, assuming he’s Japanese.
Am I too late to make a Gigli joke? Really? “At least 7 years”? Shit. Well… I got nothin’. Move along!
“Though I admire you for your bravery in sharing your story with the world, do you think it was wise to go with your bikini photo as the front cover graphic!?”
She looks like a 5 year-old girl dressed a Barbie doll with mismatched outfits, then gave her a shotgun from an older brother’s GI Joe figures. The judges would’ve also accepted “Detroit hooker”.
“No, they didn’t let me keep the Jango Fett costume after we wrapped Star Wars. Can we please keep the interview to questions about my new movie?!”
“You ever just hang your ass over the side and try to shit on somebody’s car? I’d be doing that, like, EVERY day if I were you!”
Uggh, you NEVER wanna be on your knees in front of a fat guy wearing sweatpants. I’ve seen it from both (don’t judge!) sides and just holding your breath isn’t gonna make what’s behind those waistband ties any easier to swallow… LITERALLY!
Maori bling just isn’t “blingy” enough. Now the Aztecs, they were light years ahead of the rest of the uncivilized world when it came to personal accessories!
Don’t get excited folks, that’s just milk. In my weekly support group, we call that a “Mookakke”.
“I don’t care if a bald man wearing a shower cap is like putting gas into a broken down car! Can we go back to the Jango Fett questions now?!”
Anubis will return next time in
“Scum Yuppies Must Die!”
Featuring: Stephen “Shoot ‘Em Up” McHattie , Lisa “Ejecta” Houle , Georgina “Eddie: the Sleepwalking Cannibal” Reilly
Director: Bruce “Roadkill” McDonald
Writer: Tony “Septic Man” Burgess
Welcome to the first installment of my 25 part (give or take) series, “World Tour de Farce 2015”! Every episode will basically involve my ignorant American self (Egyptian godhood aside) traversing international bad cinema in an effort to make myself a more cultured Death God… and maybe expand my brand on a global scale into heretofore untapped markets, exploiting my core competencies with an eye towards productivity and connectivity. Sorry, I hired a business consultant to try and turn the Tomb into a profit and he just kept barfing stuff like that into my ears until I had to staple his tongue to the roof of his mouth. Anyway, stop #1 on this round trip is the maple syrup dripping, lumberjack spawning, hockey rocking, very polite Great White North known as Canada! And the landmark shown in our “Where in the World is Anubis Von Mojo?” teaser image? That’s the UFO Landing Pad in the town of St. Paul, Alberta! Yep, Canada’s got its own UFO landing site. Apparently Mars Attacks was never released in the land of the Doug & Bob McKenzie. You can read more about Alberta’s extraterrestrial airport at this link. Arm yourself with knowledge, kiddos!
I know I just reviewed a Canadian film a few weeks ago (Santa’s Slay) and a zombie movie last episode (Pro Wrestlers Vs. Zombies), but I’ve been itching to give Pontypool a viewing for a couple of years now, so fuck it. Here comes what’s guaranteed to be some of the most accommodating living dead (except they’re not) this side of Mormon Heaven! And if you don’t like it? Soory, hosers. I’ve got a thing for girls who say “aboot”. Let’s split a sixer of Moosehead, fry up some back bacon, enjoy the free health care and take in some Canucksploitation until we leave for our next destination!
People (well, 2 of them) have been preaching the benefits of Ponty to me since its release. The best I could offer them was the promise that it would have a place on my “I’ll get to it when I get to it” list. Well, I got to it. And sweet succulent jalapeno poppers dropped from the Virgin Mary’s hair pie do I feel like a better human being having done so. Let’s run the recap and afterward I’ll take a cue from Ben Murphy if you’ll “Permit me to explain wah.”
For starters, this is NOT to be mistaken for the documentary Pontius Pool, which followed Jackass member Chris Pontius through the summer of 2013 as he attempted to fill a swimming pool with his friends’ bodily fluids, while living within said gathering of secretions. It lead him on a downward spiral of madness and near-fatal body toxicity that won him 3 Oscar nominations, a Golden Globe, and 4 CableACE Awards… despite the CableACEs having been discontinued in 1997. No, this is Pontypool, based on the novel “Pontypool Changes Everything”, as written by Tony Burgess. Why does that name sound familiar? Oh yeah, it’s because his name’s up above in the “Writer” credit! Yep, he’s the same Tony Burgess who adapted the screenplay. I’ve never read the book because, as I told my high school English teachers, I’m illiterate. That said, given that the author of the book was also the author of the movie, I really hope this turned out to be a faithful adaptation. Especially since I’m actually going to break my illiteracy rule and READ the damn book now!
From the opening, I get a hint that there’s something interesting in store for my next 90 minutes as we’re greeted with an oscillator scope illustrating our opening narration from talk radio host Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie). Despite being played by a native Canadian, I’m presuming that Grant’s a transplant from the U.S. of A. given his unfamiliarity with the surrounding area and very American “cowboy” manner of wardrobe selection. “Presuming” rather than “assuming”, as I make it a point never to leave myself verbally vulnerable for the same “assuming makes an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘Ming’” retort that I prefer to inflict on others. And you never want to make an ass out of Ming. He’ll put his bejeweled boot a Mongo mile up your Flash Gordon.
The Mazzster’s a Don Imus-y type of “Fuck politically correct, I don’t care if people think I’m a racist asshole, you’re gonna listen to my opinion!” personality who takes his morning coffee 50/50 with whiskey. His radio perfect voice carries the morning show on CLSY Radio 660 (“the Beacon!”) in the small town of Pontypool in the province of Ontario. On the way into his shift one dark and snowy Valentine’s Day morning (it is Canada, after all), and after firing his agent over his cell, Grant’s stopped in the parking lot by an oddly acting woman who bangs on his car window while uttering something incoherent over and over again, only to slowly back away into the darkness when Grant addresses her. He calls out to her, only to be answered by his own echoes…though I’m not entirely sure they’re all his (he said, knowingly).
Joined by his no-nonsense producer Sydney (Lisa Houle) and starry-eyed tech engineer Laurel-Ann (Georgina Reilly, pulling off that “girl next door/looking good while not looking like she’s trying to look good” appeal so well), Grant goes about his morning business battling back his winter blues to give the hosers something to listen to on their way to cut down trees and wrestle beavers and play hockey and whatever else it is Canucks do for work. They’re your typical talk radio trio: Grant causes trouble, Syd tries to rein him in, and LA sides with the old man because she admires him and may or may not want to fuck him. That’s not just me being an old man saying that young girls are attracted to we fossils, through “daddy issues” or some misguided sense of “age = maturity = sexy”, either. My Evil Dead Bride actually said it as soon as we see their first morning exchange, so if that sounded sexist, blame her!
Editor’s Note: She was TOTALLY eye-fucking Mazzy. This is NOT UP FOR DEBATE.
After a morning of what I’m presuming to be their typical “office family” squabbles, news of a hostage situation comes in over the radio band with a pair of gunmen holding a van of people against their will… you know, hence the term “hostage situation”. Thanks to LA “accidentally” feeding it into the booth to him against Syd’s wishes, Mazzola (the Indians call him “Maize”) reports on it prior to any police approval, while also implying that everybody involved is probably drunk, including the alcoholic local constabulary. Following, the station is called to drop the story as it’s officially been “resolved”, leading to a nice little exchange between Mazz and Syd where she politely tells him that their listeners are small time folk who prefer their shared small town ignorance, as the cops are actually alcoholics and, while we’re peeking behind the curtain, CLSY’s reporter/weatherman/traffic guy Ken Loney’s “chopper” is just a Dodge Dart he parks on top of the tallest hill. Everybody knows it, but they just like to pretend his sound effects are the real thing. A town just oozing blissful ignorance. Mazz in turn opens up to Syd, confessing that he’s got serious depression issues and every winter wonders if he’ll be able to hold out long enough to see the Spring again. Cue the canned audience noise where everybody goes “Awwwwwww”, but in an awkward way where they’re all worried that Grant will lose it and hang himself from the only bridge in town.
Immediately following their little moment, another newsflash comes in about a big mob of people swarming around the office of John Mendez: a local doctor who’s had recent controversy with writing questionable prescriptions. “Chopper” man Ken (voiced by Rick Roberts) calls in with a play-by-play of the pure chaos on the scene, including “an explosion of people”, bodies all over the place, and military trucks and helicopters (real ones) coming in from out of nowhere. Mazztermind wants to cover the story, but Syd would rather keep the airwaves free of potential public panicking turmoil while she tries to dig up something official that they can report. Mazzter Blaster is forced to go ahead with the planned show, including a performance by their special guests: local a cappella group Lawrence and the Arabians! Fun fact: the guy playing the group’s titular leader is none other than writer Tony Burgess. Hold onto that one next time you and your friends are playing DIY horror movie Trivial Pursuit.
As you can imagine, this performance doesn’t sit well with our self-professed bastion of truthy journalism…until shit gets interesting when Maureen/Farraj, one of the “Arabians” (I see Canadians don’t have the hang-ups with wearing black face that we do down here in North America’s ever-expanding waistband), starts speaking gibberish and eventually just breaks down into repeatedly shouting “PRA!”. Hannah Fleming, who plays the girl, actually does pretty well with her brief smattering of dialogue and that’s saying something coming from the guy who’d rather watch the child actors of the world thrown onto one massive tire fire than have to watch them “act”. Good for you, Hannah. Maybe when you’re older I’ll get to see you in a role with a few more lines and a lot less racial insensitive minstrel show shit smeared on your face!
As more reports make their way into the station, we learn that the people from the Mendez incident have formed into a “herd” of maniacs, swarming like bugs over people trapped in their cars, and collectively making weird sounds (like windshield wipers) or speaking utterances and phrases in unison as if they’re all connected with a hive mind. While trying to sift through the deluge of updates, suddenly the BBC is contacting CLSY in an effort to verify reports that the rest of the world is getting – news about military quarantining of the entire town and a possible terrorist insurgency/mass political uprising in progress! Not much later, an emergency message broadcast breaks into the station’s signal, relaying in French about how everyone within earshot should avoid loved ones, using terms of endearment, and speaking English…and how they also shouldn’t translate this message into English… which Mazzy and friends do…over the air…oops. Keep fucking that chicken, Grant.
Ken escapes the mob, holds up in a grain silo somewhere in town, and calls in to report further. We listen to a man whose face we’ll never even see as he sobs on the brink of total collapse about things he’s seen today “that are going to ruin the rest of his natural life”. Don’t worry Ken, I’m pretty sure your natural life won’t be haunting you much longer. Over the air, Ken relates how everyone is acting less than human and more like wild-eyed like dogs, cannibalizing anyone in their path, and tearing people apart with their bare teeth. Listening to Ken narrate everything to us is somehow far more intense than if we were watching it ourselves. Seeing the three in the studio hanging on each panicked word just as desperately only adds to it. When he records the twisted baby-like screams escaping an infected victim’s throat before it dies, followed by Grant descending into his own auditory hallucinations inside the sound booth? Fuck. That’s some stomach churning Silent Hill levels of terror tension. The games, not those dumbass movies.
When the horror movie paranoia and isolation kick into full swing, Mazzter & Commander and Syd argue right out the front door and into the awaiting blizzard (like I said, Canada)…where a horde of mindless psychos nearby catch wind of their exchange and start screaming “DON’T YOU WALK OUT ON ME, GRANT!” together, mimicking Sydney. Director Bruce McDonald refers to the infected as “conversationalists” rather than zombies, given that they’re not dead and they’re continuously listening while repeating words in a twisted form of symptomatic conversation with their victims. A great concept, but a twist in the vas deferens for someone like myself who doesn’t want to type “conversationalists” twenty or thirty times over the course of a few dozen paragraphs. As such, since they’re all basically brain dead on a conscious level, I’m sticking with “zombies”. If you don’t like it, then in the words of the epic poet Homer (Simpson), go to Russia!…like I will be in a future World Tour installment! Hope they’ve got enough vodka stocked away. Not for me, for them. I’m a whiskey kinda guy.
Barricading themselves in the studio and attempting to maintain their sanity by going on with the show (starting with a surreal obituaries segment), Laurel-Ann joins the ranks of the zombies almost immediately after, standing in place and mimicking the whistle of a tea kettle as she stares off into nothing. This is when Doc Mendez (and his German accent?), the guy whose practice went up in an explosion of bodies and flames earlier, crawls in through a window! He hurries Syd into the sound booth with Snazzy Mazzy and starts telling us what he’s learned by studying the outbreak’s victims. Meanwhile, LA spirals into her own zombiehood as her co-workers watch in saddened horror. To make matters worse, Ken calls back in finally…only to start losing his own mind as we listen to him jibber-jabber away the closing incoherent lines of his life story. Mister T would not like this virus.
Syd drops a shocking little revelation about Ken after his “passing” that fits in with her previous theme of small town not-so-secrets secrets that folks would rather ignore than confront. The twisted look of surprise and disgust on Grant’s face during this is priceless and mirrors what the audience is probably feeling at hearing the same news. Anyway, according to Mendez (whose accent I can’t hear without picturing Dr. Scott in Rocky Horror), the victims of the virus degrade into little more than a “crude radio signal” that’s just seeking something to bounce off of. His theory is that the it’s some kind of “god bug” that spontaneously came into being and is spreading, unpredictably and possibly boundless, infecting people at random and reproducing at epidemic proportions. And how is this bug being passed? Through the blood? Through the air? No. It’s being spread through the mind. Specifically, through the English language. Somehow words are becoming “infected”, and when these infected words reach into a victim’s brain and are understood, it turns the victim into a mindless animal. It then forces them to “hunt” for more words. And when they find someone speaking said words? They rip out their victim’s throat. And if they can’t find a victim? They die. Violently. And Vomity. The only motivator for one animal to murder the fuck out of another animal: self preservation.
In an effort to stem the virus from infecting them too, Syd and Grant stick to communicating in French and through written notes, while Mendez rambles in what may or may not be unsubtitled German. Sooner than later, the mob make their way into the building, but are lured away by a recording of All That Mazz saying “Sydney Briar is alive” played over the outside loudspeaker. Because things can’t be that easy (remember, we’re in an outbreak movie!), a random blip in the power causes everything to reset, defaulting to a playing of the Canadian National Anthem inside the building that lures the mob back in, all shouting “OH CANADA!”. Mendez runs off into the blizzard shouting “Sydney Briar is alive!”, presumably to perish as he leads the maniacs away to give Mazz and Syd a chance for safety. So much for my theory that Mendez was part of some Nazi think tank whose experiment to destroy the world through a 70 year old genocide project got away from them, what with the zombos’ rambling about Hitler and U-Boats. Oh well.
Trapped together in a supply room, Syd works on drinking herself into a numb oblivion and writing stuff on the walls in Sharpie like a teenager, while Grant tries to figure out how to cure the virus. His theory? The reason people are repeating the words over and over again is to say them so much that the words lose meaning, thus losing their contaminating power. It’s a defense mechanism by their immune systems attempting to purge the invading taint. The Mazzter Baiter’s idea for a cure? Don’t just repeat the words until they’re meaningless, but reteach the infected a new meaning to the words. Example? When Syd starts to lose it, her trigger word is “kill”. Instead, Grant keeps repeating “kill is kiss” to her until her brain replaces the meaning of the word “kill” with the meaning of “kiss”, thus curing the trigger! It’s weird, it’s a bit heady for a movie most people will probably expect to be a basic zombie schmoz coming into it, but it’s different. It works though, with Syd whispering “kill me” after, leading to the resolution of that “just fuck already!” workplace sexual tension between the two as they trade spit. It’s like some kind of emo romance thing.
Grant makes one last broadcast in an effort to fix the problem, but it’s like putting a band-aid on a severed leg. Too little, too late. The only people who know the cure take it to their bomb obliterated graves with them as Pontypool becomes a victim of the Return of the Living Dead Protocol. But, to his credit, Grant Mazzy’s last words are spent shitting all over the heavy handed government who responds to something they don’t understand by murdering an entire town of people in fire and thunder. It’s a brilliant tirade, and I don’t use that word casually either, because this diatribe is fucking brilliant to behold. Stick around after the credits though, because there’s a fun, entirely nonsensical stinger at the end that gives our heroes a fucking insane Tarantino-ish happy (I think?!) ending send-off. I hope to see you on the other side, Johnny Deadeyes and Lisa the Killer!
Before I get into the technicals, I’d just like to make mention that the term “OPP” dances through the dialogue time and again. OPP stands for “Ontario Provincial Police”, hence its frequent usage in a Canadian quarantine flick. All I could think of every time I heard “OPP” though, is that Naughty By Nature’s message of what they were “down with” had a whole different meaning up North. In Canada, they must’ve come off as the most law abiding, Kilted Yaksmen supporting rappers ever!
Pontypool. Holy. Shit. Holiest of shits. My faith in movies as a means to grab me by the nose hairs and make me feel things has been restored. Freddie Mercury meme goes here. I have not felt this sense of dread and suspense licking my neck with its barbed tongue since [REC]. While that movie managed it by utilizing the “found footage” method to perfection, Pontypool does it on pure pacing. Oh, and Stephen McHattie (who looks a LOT like Lance Henriksen from the right angle). Stephen McHattie’s like…fuck. His performance is uncannily good here! It’s almost inhuman. Like my Evil Dead Bride said, he was like Dennis Hopper levels of grand with his perfect transition of casual into intensity into stoic into in-fucking-sanity and back into “fuck you” stoic. Mazzy keeps his shit together, but not without faltering here and there so we can be impressed with how quickly he regains his shit just when you think he’s gonna lose it down his pant leg. McHattie acts his ass raw. Down to the bone. I hear he had to sit on a hemorrhoid doughnut for a month after they wrapped filming before they could find a compatible donor for seat meat implants. So much more than I expected from the evil NRA guy from Shoot ‘Em Up. Odd coincidence how he’s the connecting element between the Tomb’s first two 5 star features… and weird as John Merrick’s balls how McHattie looks like Jon Astin on the DVD cover art.
The minimal approach is just so fucking potent! It’s full-on tension. I said it before, but it bears repeating: it’s a thousand times more effective than anything they could actually show us. There’s very little in the way of graphic violence (really, there’s just zom Laurel-Ann bashing her face off of a window and hyper barfing all over the place), but it’s the way that we’re relayed the violence verbally that haunts us. The voice acting by Rick Roberts as Ken as he tells us all of the horrors he’s seeing is fantastic. It’s intense, borderline heartbreaking stuff to hear. The characterization of our tiny group is excellent. Pardon me for finding myself unable to stop sucking it’s metaphorical dick, but this has to be one of the best slow builds I’ve ever seen. If you’re looking for a fast paced splatter-palooza, this is not the movie you want. They’re great in their own right (one of my favorite sub-sub-genres, really), but Pontypool is all about the drama and gradual slide into deep horror. To keep you on your toes, there are also these weird, brain poking moments where reality seems to hiccup. As if the movie is a nightmare coming apart in places as the threads unravel. They’re not as blatant as the “PANCAKES!” scene in Cabin Fever, but they’ll get your attention.
Beyond that, there’s not really a whole lot left for me to say on why I love the maple syrup out of this motherfucker! Let’s bathe in a bit of the afterglow before we go.
There are/were two sequels to Pontypool that were actually planned before this initial installment. They’re supposed to provide more exposition, according to Burgess and McDonald, but given the nature of most sequels, this knowledge fills me with more apprehension than anticipation. When something unique really works for a movie like this (i.e. the isolation and the very slow-but-satisfying expositional foreplay), it doesn’t usually carry over to the follow-up. Remember how The Blair Witch Project and Quarantine both went from “found footage” benchmarks directly into paint-by-numbers horror movie sequels? I have this stabbing dread in my liver that Ponty 2: Electric Booga-Pool Harder would just try to be a low budget World War Z… or that could just be a serious infection from that uncooked meat I ate yesterday. Hey, I just can’t say no to ChiChi’s Baby Tartare Enchiladas! And yes, ChiChi’s does still exist, but only in China, Belgium, Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Indonesia and here in the Underworld.
Given that it’s been 7 years since the first sequel was announced at the 2009 Cannes, and director McDonald and writer Burgess have had a dozen or so other movie and TV projects between their respective schedules since with NO sign of any actual progress on the proposed Pontypool Changes (not as good as my title, to be honest), I’m going to officially call it a Natalie Wood – dead in the water. Natalie Wood: the only kind of wood that doesn’t float! Or, if you’re going for a more “upturned proboscis” approach, you can call it a Virginia Woolf. Pinkies up, fuckers!
Oh well. As douche-snob shithead as this might sound, I prefer my PP pure… call me a hipster and I’ll feed you your mother’s insides colon end first. Just focus on the part where I “peepee” and let’s move on.
Pontypool was also done as an hour long radio play that was broadcast on the BBC’s website, which I was legit excited to hear of, considering the H.G. Wells “War of the Worlds” vibe I was feeling throughout the length of the feature. Sadly, all attempts on my part to find a playable version of it met with dead ends. The best I could drudge up was a YouTube video someone put together of Mazzy’s radio material as taken from the flick. Speaking of the spoken word, if IMDB is to be believed, Burgess’s original concept for the movie was going to be the “The Outer Limits” style oscillator image (seen in the movie’s opening) as the singular visual, bouncing along to Burgess’s voice as he simply read the script for an hour and a half… Might’ve been okay as some kind of performance piece, but as a movie you’re asking people to pay money to see? Outta your fucking mind. Besides, we would’ve been robbed of McHattie’s brilliant visual performance that came along with the verbal. A performance that probably gave Sir Alec Guinness’s ghost an erect lightsaber as he watched from Jedi Heaven. What does that even mean? I don’t know! I may have just become infected… TIME TO GO! GO! GO! GO? GO! GO! GO!
Seriously mine peeples, why wouldst thou be breeders of sinners? Get thee to a Netflixery and submerge thy selves in the Pontypool, lest I pity thee as fools, eh?
With the finale of our episode, so ends our time in France’s North American piece-on-the-side. The Canadian Chuck Norris, Zap Rowsdower, welcomes you to get the fuck out. See you next time in [REDACTED]! To the airport!
Typoo – what it’s called when your spelling and grammar mistakes are so far from correct, they’re just straight up unrepentant shit.
That’s a few too many man rings there, Grant. Just buy a pair of brass knuckles and be done with it.
The only movie where you can watch Joey Ramone sexually propositioning a fish. In real life he was more a marsupial type of guy.
This reminds me of Monkey Shines… but Pontypool is still a great movie in spite of that. Fuck you, Monkey Shines.
“Wait till she finds out that I replaced the morning weather report with a track of nothing but fart sounds! And that I replaced her coffee creamer with Ex-Lax! And that I replaced her birth control pills with rat poison! … What the fuck is wrong with me!?”
“‘Best part of waking up’ my ass. This stuff tastes like it was poured out of a ranch hand’s boot at the end of a long day.”
Ever since Laurel-Ann made the joke about how microphones are robot penises, Grant doesn’t like having his nearly as close to his face as before.
Ladies and gentlemen, the look of an actress who just realized her current role should probably be left off of any future audition reels.
“Why so serious?!”
That moment when you’re in the middle of introducing your morning interview guest and regret having a breakfast of nothing but coffee and bran muffins.
Grant gets a little too wrapped up in his latest promo read for Crazy Larry’s Discount Used Cars. “WE’RE NOT JUST CRAZY AT CRAZY LARRY’S! WE’RE FUCKING INSAAAAAAANE!”
“All work and no play makes Syd a dull girl. All work and no play makes Syd a dull girl. All work and no play makes Syd a dull girl. All work…”
Anubis will return next time in
Featuring the Voices of: Gerard “300” Butler , Siobahn “Feardotcom” Ellen , Jared “I Shot Andy Warhol” Harris
Directors: Daniel “Other” DelPurgatorio , Mike “1001 Nights” Smith
Writers: Zack “Sucker Punch” Snyder , Alex “Watchmen” Tse
Also Known As: Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter
What’s behind my advent calender of eldritch horror today? A cruise across the seas of blackest nightmares aboard the boat of blackest love. No, it’s not a vacation on the Black Sea aboard Disney Cruises’ new Mandingo Party Boat (sorry, still scrubbing the residue of Haunted House 2 off of my hands) in the middle of a black hole. Welcome to Tales of the Black Freighter.
Given that my prior episode was for a Marvel superhero feature, I thought I’d give longtime rivals DC a fair chance in the spotlight. Rather than double down on the tights & capes crowd, I opted for something a bit more unique and adult from the house that The World’s Finest built. And since Preacher isn’t a thing (yet), We3 never happened, Swamp Thing will probably never recover from those fucking live-action movies, and “Constantine”’s not animated, this is the adventure I choose. The Black Knight runs you through with his sword. The last thing you see is your internal organs spilling out of you as you try desperately to hold onto ’em like that guy in the meme who can’t hold all those limes. You died. Return to page 37.
Zack Snyder couldn’t find a spot for Gerard Butler on his Watchmen cast, so rather than leave his good friend (and then meal ticket) the Butt Butler alone and hungry in the cold, Snyd finagled him the lead voice job in Tales of the Black Freighter. The part doesn’t require him to oil up and jump around with other guys homoerotically grunting and screaming in manties, so already Butts is out of his element and spitting into the wind.
Originally a comic book-within-a-comic book (meta before meta was a thing), TotBF appeared in Alan Moore’s spectacular 1986 Watchmen maxi-series as a barely-subtle mirroring to the events in the Watchmen story proper about how some heroes are really just villains who think they’re the good guys. Everybody’s the hero of their own tale.
Oh yeah, spoilers. Check the expiration date though, kiddies: Black Freighter came out in 2009, so this milk is officially past the 5 year “Sell by” date. As such, curdle ahoy!
The tale takes place in the mis-romanticized age of pirates. I mean real pirates. The guys with the eye patches and the peg legs and the treasure maps and the scurvy, not the skinny Somalian guys on motorboats wearing track suits and wielding rusty uzis. Butler’s clunky reading skills give voice to a nameless ship captain (we’ll call him Skipper) with the grave misfortune of having his craft targeted by an infamous and unholy hell barge known the seven seas over as the Black Freighter. Not your everyday pirate schooner, the BF is a hulking ark from Satan’s own armada. Massive in its size and colossal in its evilness, it looms like a reaper’s shadow over all who encounter it. Forged of a mountain of bones and skulls, it’s painted in a blackness darker than a tar pit filled with coal mined from the deepest pits of Earth by the souls of history’s worst sinners during a total eclipse of the sun (and heart). We’re talking Wesley Snipes shades of black and “Jeffrey Dahmer having phone sex with Charles Manson” shades of darkness.
When we meet Skip, his boat’s been left in splinters and his crew litters the tide like a New Orleans cemetery post-Katrina. He washes up on the shores of a deserted island along with the remnants of both his ship and his men with the single-minded focus of what horrors the Black Freighter’s twisted monstrous occupants will unleash upon his beloved wife and daughters once it casts its cloak of pitch upon the harbor of their home, Jonestown. Skipper is determined to reach said docks ahead of the flagitious frigate in the hopes of saving his friends and loved ones from the looming doom. How will he accomplish this daunting odyssey? Therein lies the element that cements Black Freighter‘s place in the history of horrifying shit…
With nothing to saw down any of the trees on the isle, Skippy tries to assemble what he can of his former craft’s remains into a viable raft. Unable to cobble more than a ramshackle skeleton together, our wayward Robinson Crusoe takes this time to notice that the bodies of his former crew are starting to bloat, making them exceedingly buoyant…yep, he’s going to make a cadaver catamaran with his deceased mates as posthumous pontoons. He lashes them together with the scraps of their clothes, severing limbs and breaking bones to form them to his needs. It’s gloriously retch-inducing.
Setting out as the most death draped gondolier since Charon had to break out his ferry to take the citizens of Pompeii across the Styx, Skip struggles to stay alive as his brain bakes in the sun, drinking minimal amounts of salt water to stay hydrated and trying to eat raw seagulls he catches while they peck at his makeshift transport. It’s a gruesome cruise, the likes of which wouldn’t be seen again until 2013 when the Carnival Triumph became stranded in the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in the nightmarish conditions that would earn it the title of “The Skat Boat” a.k.a. “The Poop Cruise” a.k.a. “The Shit Ship” a.k.a “Bush/Cheney 2013”.
Amidst his rapidly deteriorating mental state (including casual chats with his former first mate Ridley [Jared Harris]’s corpse), Skip’s trip is interrupted by a shiver of sharks. The gang of great whites go all feeding frenzy on our hero’s raft, tearing body after body away as he tries to fend them off without getting eaten himself. One of the monsters gets caught up in his ropes and Skippy manages to kill it (like Olga Karlatos in Zombie), using it as his new ride for the remainder of the cruise home, bringing Ridley’s severed head with him. Comedy comes from tragedy, so at its heart, Tales of the Black Freighter is really a buddy comedy in disguise!
Arriving at the shores of his hometown, Skip notes the complete lack of turmoil and carnage he expected to be met with upon his return. Convinced that there’s no fucking way he could’ve gotten there ahead of the BF, he figures that the village had already been taken and his only concern now is to find out the fate of his family. He comes across a man and his date on their way to hump town alongside the road and presumes the guy must’ve turned traitor to save his own miserable ass from the bloodthirsty buccaneers. Skip grabs a rock and bashes the guy’s brains into paste before strangling the hussy, who deserves no less lethal a fate for letting such a miserable privateer into her private parts. Slipping into the suspiciously silent streets of the town, Skip finds his way to his home and finds his daughters asleep in their bed. Before he can rejoice about the revelation, a shadowed figure comes into the room. Sure that this must be a marauder, our hero leaps into action and dispatches the fiend permanently, violently beating his head into the floorboards. Cue the look of horror on his girls’ faces, followed by the agonizing realization of Skipper’s own visage when he discovers that the fiend he’s just murdered in cold blood (it could just be gazpacho…) is in fact…shit, if you couldn’t guess it by now, I’m gonna shove thumbtacks between your fingers and toes until you figure it out for yourself.
Shocked and appalled by what he’s done, Skippy escapes into the night, followed behind by a contingent of his non-ravaged neighbors who have since discovered the bodies he left along the road and are now wielding torches in search of mob justice. He finds his way to the docks and back into the aquatic purgatory from which he’d just freed himself, only to see the Black Freighter lurking nearby. Rather than warn his very angry peers, he instead swims to the ship, where a rope is lowered for him. He takes hold, climbs the side of the ship, and gives himself over to the horde of twisted atrocities that surround him. And now it all makes sense: ultimately, man is his own antagonist. As Nietzsche said in his second most quoted-to-the-point-of-cliche philosophical statement, “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”
When I originally read Watchmen, I remember skipping over some of the Black Freighter segments. For me, they broke the pacing of the main story and felt unnecessary. I didn’t need a story within a story explaining the theme of the first story to me. As such, when Watchmen delved into the dimension of sight AND sound, I wasn’t bothered by its being trimmed from the movie. I do appreciate Warner Bros going all out and giving it its own animated format and release though. I’m also happy that they kept it to a trim 30 minutes, because as a 90 minute feature (or even a 60 minute demi-feature), I fear it could’ve ended up a little unbalanced to the tune of more-filler-than-killer. As it stands? Fantastic. Well, aside from Butler’s line reading. Maybe he should’ve taken a couple of muscle relaxers (or skipped the Viagra) before recording, because his delivery was a little too stiff to ignore. Wakka-wakka.
The animation has that twisted, rough look to it like a cleaner version of an “Aeon Flux” episode without everyone looking quite so elongated. The writing is just fucking incredible and Butler’s got the perfect voice for it. Again, it’s just sad that he can’t read about 20% of the words without making them sound stiff and awkward. Alan Moore’s words resonate in the dark corners of your brain, and if you’ve never read any of the man’s work, get thee to a library. And if they don’t have any Alan Moore stuff? Burn it to its foundations, then shit in the basement. Don’t just ask them to order it, make a statement about how you shouldn’t have to!
Overall, TotBF invokes the same feelings in me as the segments of the original Heavy Metal did as this dark, very adult, well animated (but not too well animated), self-contained story. It really is a brilliant piece. And that closing song. Holy shit. “Pirate Jenny” by Nina Simone? The end credits for an animated zombie pirate gore story doesn’t seem like a great place for a blues song (beyond the obvious thematic connections, since the original rendition of PJ from ”The Threepenny Opera” was Alan Moore’s inspiration for the comic-within-a-comic to begin with), but when I think about the track later on, independent of the movie itself, it sends literal chills up my neck and gives me phantom goosebumps. I’ve never been haunted by a song before, but this one might as well be a pasty white Japanese girl in heavy goth eyeliner with long raggedy hair crawling on top of me while I sleep. If I say “Black Freighter” five times in the bathroom mirror with the lights off, Nina Simone will come out and go all Candyman on my hairy canis-sapien butthole.
Great, now I’ve gotta go smash my mirror and clear a few million bees out of my toilet before they fuck up the pipes and I have to spend my Cthulhumas bonus on hiring a plumber. Fuck. I’ll be back next time with…something. Until then, keep your taints clean, your streets mean, and always tip your cleaning staff or you might wind up with your fucking head on a stake!
I see yet another person who doesn’t understand that the answer to “Is black-face okay?” is always “NOOOOOO”.
Lindsey Lohan earned her boating license and held a booze cruise in honor of the accomplishment. There were no survivors.
Guys, I know sometimes we do extreme things during times of severe sexual frustration, but trust me when I tell you this isn’t the answer. It’s just not worth the dick splinters. Nothing is.
In case you forgot this story was originally a part of Watchmen, here’s Skipper’s Rorshach sail… you’ll be seeing it many many times again to assure that, like 9/11, you never forgot.
Beachhead. Because there’s a head. And it’s on a beach. It’s a beach head on a beachhead. Because even in times of plague and horror, no one is safe from visual puns!
Shark attack! Quick, somebody get Lance Guest and Mario Van Peebles here so we can impale it on their schooner!
When your friends tell you you need to “get some head”, this isn’t what they mean, Skip.
That’s exactly what I look like every time I have to plunge my toilet.
The most metal fucking raft EVER! If Lemmy, Bruce Dickinson, and Rob Halford went on a fishing trip, they’d do so on THAT!
Yeah, I remember the first time I had sex with a woman on her period too. They tell you it’ll be alright… you’ll never be the same again.
Anubis will return next time in
“Murder on 34th Street”