Episode 104 – The Guardians (2017)

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

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

Director: Sarik “American Heist” Andreasyan

Writer: Andrey Gavrilov

Origin: Russia

Review_____

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


(Still better than Fant4stic.)

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


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

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


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

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

…PUNS!

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Screenshots_____


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

or “Dicks Don’t Get Wet”

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

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

Also Known As: Planet Terror

Origin: USA

Review_____

“Are you a wrecker, Wray?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Screenshots_____


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Freddy Rodriguez stars in Night of the Living Dorf.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

Episode 100 – The Fall of the Louse of Usher (2002)

or “Love. Love Will Tear Us Apart Again”

Featuring: James “Black Milk” Johnston , Eliza “Boudica Bites Back” Russell , Marie Findley

Writer & Director: Ken “Tommy” Russell

Also Known As: The Fall of the Louse of Usher: a Gothic Tale for the 21st Century ; Ken Russell’s The Fall of the Louse of Usher

Origin: UK

Review_____

“Even if you come in here sane, no way you’re gonna get out of here anything but crazy!”

Guten tag, schmutz-kinder! Today marks the annual event known to wrestling fans as Wrestlemania. On a larf, I thought it would be fun to do a roundtable of reviews for Ken Russell movies. What does Ken Russell have to do with professional wrestling? Nothing. At least not that I know of. No, the theme for this gathering exists for no other reason than because it lends itself to the ‘table’s puntacular title!

Yep. That's the kinda shit I do. And thanks to my fellow cinemasochists for taking this journey with me! Though never a big Ken Russell fan, I have seen a few of his better known flicks. I thought Altered States was a fun acid trip through pseudo scientific madness, Tommy was an enjoyably dark and unique musical experience, and Lair of the White Worm is still one of my favorite flicks to come out of the UK and the definite catalyst for my bizarre attraction to serpentine women who want to eat me alive. Despite the creep-ass little goblin from the cover of the Gothic VHS being burned into my memory from childhood, I never got around to renting it. From what Ragnarok has to say in his review, it sounds like I didn’t miss much. Too bad that copy of The Devils I sent him was rerouted back to me via USPS, otherwise he could’ve reviewed that instead. Stupid lack of proper postage!

Before I get started, I’m throwing out the disclaimer that this review is going to be a rush job, so apologies if it lacks the polish (or Polish) of other episodes. I’ve been entangled on the battlefield of the mind in a war with the Overfiend for possession of my soul and just recently managed to lock the beast away in the Crystal of Zoloft, putting me at odds with my own predetermined due date. As such, I’ve filled my gut tank with several cans of Tear Ass energy drink from Dollar Embargo to give me the fuel I need and, as an odd side effect, the ability to taste color! I can confirm that, yes, purple is indeed a fruit. The only flavor they had on-shelf was the nebulous “Citrus X”. Unlike Chemical X, which turns inanimate objects into Powerpuffs, the only thing Citrus X transforms is the odor of your urine. My piss bucket smells like it’s full of orange peels swimming in battery acid. I’m not 100% sure my kidneys aren’t going to explode by the time we get to the moral of this story. Oh well. Sallying forthwith!

In the twilight of his career, Kenny Russell wasn’t much for movie making. He stuck with weird short subject shit for the most part, while my pick for this Celluloid Zeroes collaboration is the final feature length flick the freaky fiend filmed before punching his ticket to the Underworld in 2011. And when I say “filmed”, I don’t mean it literally, because The Fall of the Louse of Usher was shot entirely via camcorder!

Yes indeed my flowers and weeds, the technology your parents used to have to rely on when they wanted to make their own sex tapes (back when they were actual tapes) is the medium through which Uncle Ken chose to tell this backyard gothic rock opera of his. And I gotta say, upon discovering this, my immediate concerns were that I had been bamboozled and this wasn’t the same Ken Russell I was looking for. Learning that its legitimacy is legitimate however, I felt like I was watching home movies of someone’s grandpa in the final days of a fatal cancer diagnosis. Without mincing words, you just can’t shake that awful feeling of pity for seeing someone brought so low. Even if just done as a simple pet project to have fun with his friends and neighbors (which it was), it still feels so beneath what the man had done with his prestigious (or at least semi-prestigious) career that it’s… well… pathetic. If they’d kept it as a private joke to share with each other and bring out for summer barbecue viewings, that’d be one thing. But to put it out on a DVD and demand people pay to see it? By Roger Daltrey’s tasseled togs, are you fucking yankin’ my crank?! Clearly not, otherwise I’d have nothing to rag on here! Well, aside from the extension cord I use for a belt.


Roger Daltrey – Innovator of the “glue huge strands of cooked spaghetti to your sleeves” look.

Okay, enough puttin' off the lovin'. Let's rinse off our genitals, put on my Lou Bega mixtape of bone medleys, and bang this bitch out like Sean Michaels (the porn actor, not the wrestler)! Let's just hope we don't let loose any two-cheek squeaks (or squeakquels) while we're at it.

The setting for our story in simply “Orange County, USA” according to our opening. Okay, so is it the Orange County with the arguing family of motorcycle builders, the one with Mischa Barton, or one of the half-dozen other fucking Orange Counties in the damn country!? Though it’s later revealed that our setting is the West Coast edition, that tiny tidbit of info would’ve been nice to know beforehand. As Baphomet would say, “Bah”.

Roderick Usher (James Johnston, who doubles as the movie’s composer) is a goth rock musician 20 years behind the curve. Lead guitarist and singer/whiner (and occasional whisper rapper) of a heretofore unnamed band (might I suggest “The Poegues”?), he’s arrested for the suspected murder of his wife/maracas player, Annabelle Lee (Emma Millions), to whom everyone likes to attach the preface descriptor of “Sweet”. Not so sweet when she’s found walled up in the Usher house with half her face missing and her pet mini-pincher chewing through her guts! Since her rocker widower is clearly off his rocker at the time of his capture, barely coherent and ranting about his innocence, rather than going to prison Roddy’s instead carted off to the local loony bin. Here he’s put under the care of the demented Dr. Calahari (Ken Russell) and his sex bomb assistant, Nurse ABC Smith (Marie Findley).


Not a good sign of things to come… pun intended.

Not just another bimbo in a medical fetish costume, ABC (Already Been Chewed?) is one of those wonderfully empowered ladies who uses her sexuality to manipulate others into getting what she wants, the endgame of which is often something fatal for those seduced by her charms. Also, as everyone is keen to point out, “She’s a great piece of ass”. Pretty much what you’d expect from a Russell girl.

They’re similar to “Bond girls”, only way more likely to be emotionally damaged and way more likely to have some manner of underlying disfigurement that will make you paranoid of any woman who hits on you during last call. Not unlike how Basket Case taught women to never talk up any guy at a bar carrying a picnic basket.


Hellooooooo Nurse!

Russell's oddball headshrinker has a penchant for wearing a variety of headpieces, which may or may not be the writer/director/producer/editor/cinematographer/actor's unsubtle pun to the audience that he himself is a “man of many hats”. Or, it could just be a sign that he had a bunch of goofy hats lying around in his home prop box that he thought would make for a running gag funny only to him. Either or. Said fetishizer of up top props also puts on a “hard to pinpoint but I'm pretty confident it's meant to be German because ABC keeps referring to him as 'Herr doktor'” accent that sounds exactly like the frantic urine lab doctor from the English dub of Dominion: Tank Police. And if you don’t know what that is, your life is a little less happy than it should be. Fix that. Soon. Or be forever denied existence as a complete person. Tank Police. Feel the power that we’ve got. We’ll give it our best shot.

No sooner is Rod tossed into his new cell then he starts in on the standard issue sexually deviant hallucinations that every lead of a Ken Russell movie suffers from. In this case, our hero envisions an orgy of blow up dolls that includes an inflatable dinosaur for added “Da fuq?!” factor. As he writhes, physically in his straight jacket and emotionally in his madness, ABC looks on intrigued. Speaking of our Nightingale on Elm Street, her role at the hospital is seemingly as Calahari’s personal caretaker more so than as his assistant. Much of their screen time together is spent with ABC feeding him, cleaning out his ears, and constantly checking the old fart’s vitals while they discuss the Usher case. Mayhaps the demented doc is a hypochondriac and needs frequent reassurance that he’s in stable health? Could it be that he’s due for a mandatory physical by the Department of Health? Then again, it may just be a thinly-veiled metaphor about how nurses tend to do all the work as doctors sit around getting fat off their fancy college degrees and trying their best to distinguish between a patient’s sphincter and a hole in the ground… which should probably raise some concerns from everyone given that doctors’ offices generally don’t include holes in their floors.

While DC and ABC try to unravel the mystery of Annabelle’s death (and whether it has anything to do with Roderick’s sister/violinist Madeline Usher [Ken’s wife Eliza Russell]) With a bona fide celebrity in their midst, Cal wants ‘Rick to perform for the institution’s patients-and-staff mixer, leaving it up to ABC to do the convincing. When her lusty demeanor isn’t enough to persuade the disturbed music maker, she confines him to a makeshift torture bed (that looks to be a beach chair with a blanket tossed over it) as a swinging pendulum butcher knife gradually descends back and forth above his pelvis. Though the protag laughs off her threat, citing an erectile deficiency, he’s not so sure of himself when XYZ reveals that she gave him Viagra. At the mere mention of her boner juice roofie job, Lil’ Rod (sounds like a personal problem) springs to life and Mr. Usher gives in to his caretaker’s demands. Good thing my doc’s accompanying CRN isn’t that hardcore. Being the world’s worst diabetic, she’d have had me paying dues to the Eunuchs Union Local 37 before you could say “THIS IS A MEDICAL EXAMINATION! STOP EATING THAT CHEESECAKE!”.

During the crazy people social soiree, Roderick is encouraged by Dr. C to get every available appendage he can up Nurse Smith’s very short uniform skirt. Hey, getting turned down by trim doesn’t mean you can’t encourage your fellow phallus holder to have a try! Bro code… or some horseshit. Anyway, Mr. Usher is then accosted by a pair of his fellow inmates that are heavy on a hippie astrology kick, asking him if he’s into “Ass-trology”, which I assure you that I certainly am. They allude to Miss ABC’s past interactions with a group called “The West Side Boys” which, from their intonations, presumably refers to some fucked up tribulations. More specifically, the ones spelled G-A-N-G-R-A-P-E.

No, not “gan grape” you nards! I meant “gang rape”. She had her flower forcibly plucked by a vulgar group of ne’er-do-wells with more testosterone than social grace. At least as far as I can infer. The later reveal that her entire erotic demeanor is made up of literal artificial bits and pieces (including that “great piece of ass!”) to disguise whatever shapeless horror she really is, postulates clearly that her outer self is a deceptive shell to hide the fragile truth beneath. Some obvious symbolism for Uncle Ken to waterboard us with. It’s an interesting visual representation, but is smashed so hard into our faces that it’s like being talked down to by a tech support rep that makes you wanna reach through the phone and elbow them in the throat.

I don’t do great with “message movies”. Unless they involve people getting run over en masse.

While Nursey Poo and The Rod explore their blossoming relationship, Dr. C uses the astrologist gals (one of whom is your typical old gypsy lady, while the other is a minstrel mummy… let that sink in) in an effort to Ouija up the soul of the slain Annabelle Lee and get the story of her demise straight from the victim’s protoplasmic mouth. Unable to establish a direct connection to the lass, they do manage to summon OSIRIS(!!!) instead, who speaks to them through the sacred vessel of… a Big Mouth Billy Bass.

Okay. This part got me. A surprise kidney punch of happiness I wasn't prepared for that left me on the floor with upturned lips ever so slightly trembling. This leads to a riddle that leads to a vibrating slinky version of those “weasel chasing a ball” toys that finally leads to the gypsy character divining that the question to the answer “The reveal of Annabelle Lee's true killer” is “What's the secret of her bones?”. Man, trying to force gags into a ‘Jeopardy!’ shaped mold requires mental gymnastics that my caffeine fueled cortex can’t fucking handle right now. This leads to Calahari sending his masked henchman Igor to retrieve Ann’s pearlies from her gravesite.

Taking a break from all story progress, Dr. Cal takes a scenic route scene to gloat to Roderick about his prized experiment – having hypnotized (via several props acquired from a Spencer’s Gifts clearance sale) a previous patient/guinea pig named Ernest Valdemar (Peter Mastin) in the midst of the man’s death throes, allowing Ernie’s mind to continue living indefinitely and communicating through a voice amplification box despite the death of the rest of his body… except for the part about how his jaw and eyes are still functional, and the other part about how THE BRAIN CANNOT SURVIVE WITHOUT BLOOD FLOW OR OXYGEN. Unfortunately, despite Mr. V’s predicament being an interesting piece about a person buried alive in the grave of his own corpse for 7 months, this bit of sidetrack has zilch to do with Rod’s tale and only serves as a *wink*wink*nudge*nudge* to EAP readers that reeks of time filler.


Sick Destro cosplay, bro!

Speaking of filler, the next segment takes the same theme, makes like a looter with a new TV and runs with it. Calahari has a therapy session with a woman hidden behind a mask who has some weird psycho-sexual fear of garden gnomes. Through his mania-delving analysis, the doc helps her realize she's actually famed femme fatale female wrestler, Beulah Von Birmingham (Sandra Scott)! Her revelation is interrupted when a masked prostitute named Mary (Mrs. Russell again) inserts herself into the scenario, declaring herself a birthday present to Roderick from his big sister… while ironically being played by the same woman who plays his big sister. Beulah recognizes her as one of her wrestling rivals though, and the pair have a no holds barred hardcore brawl for supremacy! It degrades into the two just dry humping each other before the silliness subsides prematurely with the pair escaping over a wall via convenient step ladder, to the chagrin of Calahari who planned to imprison the pair in his crazy house. Again, fun random bit of wackiness, but also again, entirely disconnected from having anything to do with advancing the damn story!

Wait a sec… Whoa. That’s a bit weird, isn’t it? I establish this review on the basis of its creator’s surname being a pun on the word “wrestle”, and ultimately there’s a scene of female wrestlers doing just that. The hypothesis of my subconscious being an astral projected time traveler while I sleep gains more and more traction. Nanoo fucking nannoo.

When Igor returns with the disinterred dentures of a dozen or so Ushers buried in the same boneyard (or, purchased from a gumball machine outside the corner deli as the case more likely is), Annabelle’s rise from the collection and hint at Poe’s short story ‘The Murders at the Rue Morgue’ as being the key to unlocking what really happened to her. Cal deciphers this as meaning Rod’s wife was actually murdered by a gorilla, but before he can question this logic further he’s called away to Valdemar’s room, where his pet zombie finally gives up the ghost. As if that weren’t enough to upset the bloated old goat, the institute’s previous staff, which the doctor had apparently imprisoned in the asylum’s basement for challenging his “revolutionary methods”, have somehow escaped (or at least the two members we’re ever privy to) and are wilding throughout the building in pursuit of revenge! Less the “pee in the communal coffee pot at work” type and more the “Carrie White on prom night” version.

Roddy, herr doktor, the old gypsy (now wearing a tea cozy on her head) and the blackface mummy lady escape the hospital with all limbs intact, returning to the Usher Estate. Once there, ‘Ricky discovers beloved sister Madeline dead at her own hand on what looks to be a teenage girl’s bed, amid some topless statues in the yard. Seems the “fake news” media reported that her brother had died in the sanitarium riot and the resultant grief with which she was overtaken pushed her to Romeo & Juliet herself, leaving behind a recorded confession (played for them by a crimson faced gorilla) that she was the one who prematurely punched Sweet Annabelle Lee’s mortality ticket! In the thralls of his own heartbreak, little brother Usher demands Death take him too, to which Dr. C relinquishes with an injection of something lethal. The duo are laid in state in their yard, surrounded by potted flowers probably taken from the dumpster behind the WalMart Garden Center.

With 15 minutes left in the movie, the aforementioned gorilla gather the remaining trio of guests in the siblings’ old childhood playhouse to view a VHS tape (played in a microwave for laughs). The vid is a further confession by Mad Maddie, telling of how she used Gory (the gorilla) to kill Annabelle with an obedience chip that the family had planted in the hulking simian’s brain after the poor brute was rescued from an abusive trainer. Thanks to an off-brand Playstation 2 controller, Mads maliciously manipulated the monkey into murdering her only rival for her dear brother’s dingus. From here it’s all about wrapping shit up, as Calahari is captured and returned to the asylum to undergo treatment, Nurse ABC is fine (except for an unexplained hand crushing incident in the end), Roderick and Madeline’s souls descend to hell on a righteous deflating bouncy castle, and their son and daughter prepare to move back into their family home with Gory now that everyone else has been driven away… I’m not going to explain anything from that last sentence, as I’ll leave it up to your own minds to fill in the blanks that, well, we’re never given anyway.


Unless Russell’s next of kin have some 2-4-5 Trioxin laying around, I’m pretty sure this is the end.

And there it is: Ken Russell’s final feature, The Fall of the Louse of Usher. Though greatly hampered by its poor choice of medium and “let’s just use what we’ve got lying around our houses!” budget, there’s actually a lot of entertainment to be had. The sound quality isn’t great, sometimes even bordering on horrible as it makes certain scenes almost completely auditorially illegible, with the worst being a stair well exchange that’s nothing but shouty echoes. Speaking of noise, one of my least liked parts of this cacophony of crazy are the awful little music videos that Rod and Mad made for their band, not the least bothersome of which involves the siblings being all “anguished high school goth kids” (well into their thirties/forties) with each other in a cemetery, dragging numerous visual aids about their incest relationship across our faces where, like the scrotum intimation I’m trying to make here, none were needed.

The cast is actually pretty solid for a buncha no-names. Not everyone, mind you, but our top-of-the-credits trio – Johnston, Findley & Mr. Russell – all make this a much more pleasant pill to swallow. Their characters are entertaining if not always interesting and their performances are appropriately campy without going overboard. Broken heart throb Roderick is well lost in the forest of confusion and desperate to find his way out; Nurse ABC carries a sensuality, charm and foreboding smile reminiscent of Cassandra Peterson’s beloved Elvira or a mash-up of Rocky Horror’s Columbia & Magenta; and Doc Calahari is a kooky crackpot who’s really a lot of fun to watch when you warm up to him, even in spite of Russell’s absurd German-ish accent, which grows on you if your ears don’t revolt against you first.

If you’re a Poe nerd, or have a Poe nerd in your life, you’ll enjoy picking out Louse‘s varied variety of references to the godfather of goth’s library of extensive materials. Some are obvious, some are a bit more obscure, and still others I’m sure I missed entirely because I’m barely acquainted with the chronically depressed fiveheaded oddball’s greatest hits, let alone his deep cut ditties. If what I’ve heard was true, Louse of Usher is a much better homage to Eddie Allan’s efforts than 2012’s The Raven, so again, consider it for the Poephile in your presence. And don’t you worry John Cusack, I’ll be kicking down your door sooner or later with crackling criticisms to burn your nose hair by!

The “gothic tale for the 21st century” has great potential that peeks out from behind its discounted Halloween seasonal mall shop props and modified tool shed sets, and with a little bit of script tampering and an injection of capital, I think, sans hyperbole, that TFotLoU could have easily been another Rocky Horror! Hell, with a Kickstarter campaign and some talented hands, it could still be. It’s as likely as Hulk Hogan playing the dad in a(nother) remake of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, but it’s fun to think of what could have been. Speaking of what could have been…

Hey! I finally made it to episode 100! It only took me… gimme a sec here…

Three and a half years. Shit. That’s an average of 2-3 reviews per month. Double shit. Billy Bass Osiris damn me and whatever wacky fantasy scenario I’m using today to stunt double for my real life personal hindrances. Oh well. I’ve got a pot of chili and a copy of Cannibal Killer Clowns on Dope calling my name with their siren song, so let’s hurry this up and just say it’s a case of quality over quantity.

Moral of the Story: If you ever want to get out of a mental institute alive, never question the sanity of the staff.

On the topic of superior quality, go treat yourself to some more RussellMania from our fellow Zeroes!



Checkpoint Telstar summons The Devils

Cinemasochist Apocalypse goes all Gothic

Micro-Brewed Reviews experiments with Altered States

The Terrible Claw Reviews excavates The Lair of the White Worm

Web of the Big Damn Spider courts The Boy Friend

Screenshots_____


I envision a lawsuit by the Estate of Edgar Allan Poe against the Estate of Ken Russell as presided over by the Estate of Judge Wopner here, in ‘The Dead Peoples’ Court’.


See, shit like that is why you’ll never get me within a mile of a LASIK office!


“I have to say, when my wife said she’d gotten me that reverse-gangbang I’d always wanted for my birthday, I wasn’t expecting… well… this. Oh well, let’s make the best of it, girls!”


Yes, kids, Ken Russell as a literal dick nose.


Scary Movie prop mask purchased from Marlon Wayans’ “Fund the next A Haunted House sequel” yard sale.


The New Slash Co. Mark 12 collection of knives! They’ll cut through shoe leather, a soda can and a full-sized rhinoceros, and STILL sever a human head like it were a ripe tomato without a single sharpening! I’d buy that for a dollar!


What? You’ve never been to a white trash Eyes Wide Shut party before?


My sex shed is way nicer than theirs!


“With the Psychic Readers Network, you can get in touch with the Egyptian gods for advice on life, love, and lucky lottery numbers for just $2.99 per minute! Call me NOW!”


Saint Polident – the Patron Saint of Denture Cleansers and veteran of the 100 Years Crusade against the kingdom of the Cavity Creeps.


And this is why I never trust elderly women in lingerie who ask me if I want to “smell their flower”.


A scene from Annie Sprinkle’s long-since-banned educational video for elementary school children on how bees pollinate flowers.


My attempts at bringing my own Frankensteinian meatloaf man to life didn’t go as I had hoped… at least he made for some delicious leftovers!


The only surviving still from a proposed 1992 reboot of Planet of the Apes that, I think we can all agree, would have probably been too awesomely reprehensible for this world anyway.


Alright! The Better Homes and Gardens annual “DIY Funerary Displays on a Budget” issue is out! They printed my article in this one!


In 1997, Nintendo introduced the first “rumble” function for video game controllers, causing them to vibrate as a form of sensory feedback for players to help increase their immersion in the games. 20 years after the introduction of vibrating controllers, females now make up nearly 50% of video gamers. Coincidence? My eye.

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Anubis will return next time in
“Guess Who’s Dying at Dinner”

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

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

Episode 96 – Death Race 2050 (2017)

or “Faster, Frankenstein! Kill! Kill!”

Featuring: Manu “Arrow” Bennett , Marci “Days of Our Lives” Miller , Malcolm “A Clockwork Orange” McDowell

Director: GJ “Virtually Heroes” Echternkamp

Writers: GJ “Frank and Cindy” Echternkamp & Matt “Virtually Heroes” Yamashita

Origin: USA

Remake of:Death Race 2000

Also Known As:Roger Corman’s Death Race 2050

This Episode Personally Approved By: GJ Echternkamp (Director/Writer)!
“Your review of Death Race 2050 was one of the funniest things I’ve ever read… thanks for making my night!”

Review_____

“It’s like having sex with 500 men at once – awesome.”

So,we’re only two weeks into the new year and already David Blaine has shot himself in the mouth and Martin “Shcrotin” Shkreli has gotten a face full of doggy dung. Don’t do it, 2017. Don’t tease me like this. After all the bullshit that 2016 pulled, you’re gonna have to give me a LOT more than this to wash off the stink of your predecessor’s legacy! Now, if you were to have Blaine and Criss Angel kill each other off in some form of magician blood feud a la The Prestige and have Shkreli choke to death on a log of piping hot canine crap straight from the pooch’s poop chute, you’d score a fair bucket of cred with both myself and many others. But you’re on super double secret probation until at least mid-April, so keep your nose clean.

Speaking of 2016, despite the murder spree we all witnessed over the length of the last calendar, you know who survived the celebrity serial killer year-that-was? Roger Corman! The spiritual successor of Ed Wood hasn’t directed a flick in over 25 years, but that sure as shit hasn’t stopped the master of the minuscule budget from keeping the bad movie spawning beds bubbling atop his “Producer” chair throne. Much as my opinion of the man’s work ebbs and flows with the shifting of the sands, I will not deny that Cor-Man is the friggin’ Jack LaLanne of schlock. My all time favorite of his features? Without hesitation – Death Race 2000.

If you don’t know that which DR2K is about, it better be because you’re younger than the carton of cottage cheese long thought lost in the dark recesses of my fridge. Why haven’t I thrown it out yet? By the time I found it, I was too afraid to open it, let alone lay my hands upon it. Know what’s in there? Me neither. Let’s keep it that way. Back on topic, DR2K is a 1975 flick that plays like a live-action “Speed Racer” cartoon if it came with an ‘R’ rating and revolved around turning pedestrians into street meat. It was Cannonball Run meets Rollerball. So it was Rollerball Run, I guess. Also, it was already remade in 2008 as just Death Race, as some kind of edgy gay prison sex action-drama art house film starring Jason Statham and Tyrese Gibson also executive produced by Roger Corman. It had two sequels, with a third currently in production as of this review. Samuel L. Jackson that’s a lot of spin-offs for a movie that’s never had an actual sequel! Good on Mr. HardCorman for beating every last cent out of that dead horse. At least it’s his own and he’s not just Michael Bay-ing off of someone else’s work. Speaking of deceased equines, let’s saddle up this thoroughbred and see if it’s riding majestically into the sunset or shuffling off to the Elmer’s plant.

Oh yeah, so (not my) president Pissler and his turd reich are on their way into the White House soon, and though I had another movie in mind to mark the end of civilization as we know it, DR2050 dropped itself face first into my lap instead, and the timing was just too perfect not to unzip. As such, if you were shivering with antici………..pation for this as much as I was, well, urine luck!

For those who have already seen Death Race 2000, you can pretty much Choose Your Own Adventure the next few paragraphs and turn to “Page 32”. For those new to the game, continue on to “Page 7”.

Page 7

30 or so years in the future, the USA is a much different landscape. Well, it’ll probably be like looking in a mirror 4 or so years in the future from where we are now, but let’s all try to escape reality for a few minutes together and focus on the flick. Corporations have hijacked the land of milk and honey and turned it into Occupy Wall Street’s worst night terror, going so overboard as to rename the nation The United Corporations of America. This “re-branding” includes the replacement of the stars on the flag with dollar signs. Like the most constipated man in history would say, I shit you not. The states have been divided among the most elite of the 1% and also re-branded with new monikers to reflect their new owners, and in some cases strip mined of every available resource straight into hellholes that only extras from a Mad Max movie would be fit to survive in. Sitting atop this smoldering shit heap is the Chairman (Malcolm McDowell), whose goofy haircut, bold faced lies and constant disregard for the welfare of his citizens in favor of bilking every last cent out of their pockets make him an obvious parody of a certain baby-handed megalomaniac obsessed with swimming in gold, and I don’t mean the way Scrooge McDuck does.

With the advancement of medical technology, mankind has managed to eliminate life-threatening diseases like cancer, while also giving the people an Extended Play in the game of life, with most living into the triple digits like it’s no big deal. The resultant unexpected population explosion (remember, guys like the Chairman don’t listen to any science that doesn’t bump up their profit margin) left the nation with an immediate need to relocate their excess citizenry. But, since the UCA grabbed the other nations of the world by their pussies with nuclear rape hands, the remainder of the planet’s kinda unlivable. Hence, violent competitions were established where the participants murder the peasantry en masse for the entertainment of said peasantry smart enough to stay home and watch instead. On that note, cue the theme music as we present you with Death Race: a cross-country rally style automotive conflict whose drivers (and their navigators/co-pilots) do their damnedest to turn every person along the path into meat bag versions of the Incredible Crash Dummies. You know, the characters from that weird ’90s cartoon/toy line, not that weird ’90s band/reason I uncontrollably punch people who hum as hard as I can in the face… with a knife.

Not everybody in the UCA is down with an entertainment industry based on a “re-envisioning” of the Roman Colosseum days. Said like-minded individuals have become a like-minded institution of rebels working toward the common goal of “waking up the sheeple” (I hate young people) and uniting the common folk against their corporate oppressors. How? By stopping the Death Race! How? By killing the drivers! These inept understudies from an off-Broadway musical version of Beyond Thunderdome are lead by an ex government Head of Programming-turned-revolutionary hard-ass named Alexis, who’s played by the former starlet of TNT’s ”Witchblade” TV series – Yancy Butler! Oh, nobody remembers ”Witchblade”? Well, fist my ass.


NOT WITH THAT!

Page 32

And now, your Death Race racer roster!

Frankenstein (Manu Bennett) – Dressed up like a leather daddy wearing a lava golem mask that may or may not be made from re-purposed tire rubber, this four time winner of Death Races past is a manly man budget version of Tom Hardy and the franchise hero of the coast-to-coast abattoir. Bearing the title of Mary Shelley’s most memorable monster (Victor, not his patchwork zombie “son”), he’s survived his fair share of fender benders thanks to the advanced cyber-prosthesis that have left him a mechanical man. Query: though this explains the Frankenstein name, was his name always Frankenstein, even before he became a walking quilt of flesh and circuitry? Enquiring minds are mildly curious! His co-pilot Annie (Marci Miller) is our main man’s mandatory love interest, so try not to be surprised when their elementary school playground name calling and verbal sparring turns into a begrudging union of souls. Finally, am I the only one who looks at Frankie’s car and can’t stop seeing the TMNT Footski toy?

Jed Perfectus (Burt Grinstead) – The self-proclaimed apex of manliness and a nonstop testosterone factory, Perfectus is the test tube baby byproduct of a genetic engineering experiment tasked with making the ultimate male. He’s determined to defeat Frankenstein (to the point of obsession) and prove himself the new hero that the Death Race fans deserve. A blond-haired, blue-eyed Aryan asshole, this personification of the Übermensch would have Hitler creaming his pants so hard you’d think he’d just poured bottles of Coffee-Mate down both pockets. All that aggressive man juice pumping through his brain makes Jed a bit of a psycho though, so when he strips down to his golden Rocky Horror skivvies and his mole-covered pecs get to flexing, prepare for some of the old ultra-violence. Though the gay jokes are frequent and expected, in spite of them, Jed’s fractured mental state is actually an interesting study in the dangers of toxic masculinity. Unlike the prior picture’s antagonist, Machine Gun Joe, Jed opts for a spear gun over a Tommy Gun. Given the whole “insecure man” angle, I’m sure that’s not just a Freudian slip on the peel of a Freudian banana. Wakka wakka!

Tammy (Anessa Ramsey) – Also known by the nom de carnage of “Tammy the Terrorist”, I’m pretty sure this mid-western religious nut heralded by the stink of brimstone and burnt rubber is named after the infamous Tammy Faye-Bakker. Then again, her lack of comically heavy makeup could indicate otherwise. Whatever the case, Tammy here bears no small resemblance to an out-of-work Jaime Pressly. She’s dressed to the nines in her eye-blisteringly “’MERICA!” outfit that approximates a grown-up version of something you’d see at one of those creepy Dallas prostitot beauty pageants that I’m pretty sure are just massive bait traps for pedophiles. Her white trash Barbarella fashion senselessness aside, Tammy’s defining trait is that she’s the leader of a religious extremist group (i.e. suicide bombers) who worship dead celebrities from the past, so expect numerous name drops along the lines of James Dean, David Bowie, Elvis Presley and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. In case it wasn’t blatant enough for you (or you just weren’t paying attention), she represents the ridiculous forms that celebrity worship can take and the dangers that faith can lead to in the wrong hands.

Minerva Jefferson (Folake Olowofoyeku) – The obvious foil for Miss Tammy, Minerva is a hard-nosed hip hop harlot draped in bad girl bling who’s made a career out of calling for the killing of white people. Not “Whitey” or “The Man” in particular, mind you, but Caucasians as a whole. And no, not Caucasian ass-a-holes specifically, hyuk hyuk. Though I’m a member of the “rap is crap” mentality, as a self-hating honky I probably relate more to Minerva’s motivations than any of the other drivers’. Her car (the Whitey Whacker) has a pair of external speakers that are supposedly so loud they can make peoples’ heads explode, but I’m not sure that’s how sound waves work. Minerva’s latest hit single is in honor of her enrollment in the competition and it’s no surprise that it’s just her chanting “Drive! Drive! Kill! Kill!” to a generic backing track. It’s all a flagrant rip-off of a Homer Is B.I.G. track, anyway.

ABE (voiced by D.C. Douglas) – The fifth and final perforator of pedestrian entrails in this endeavor is even less human than Jed! That’s because this driver is actually the K.I.T.T. of the movie, minus Mr. Feeny’s voice or Mitch Buchannon’s ass in its face. The AI’s creator/co-pilot/girlfriend is Dr. Von
Creamer (Helen Loris)… wait… “girlfriend”? Yep. Though we’re given no background on the self-driving murder machine’s origins, going by Creamy’s frequent usage of its passenger pleasure functions, I’m gonna go with the safe bet that the doctor’s obsession with creating the ultimate vibrator got so out-of-hand that she couldn’t keep it a secret from whoever supplied her research grant, so she just said it was a Death Race car and ended up here. Interestingly enough, ABE (the meaning of whose acronym is also ignored) presents us with the ages old “What’s the meaning of life?” query as applied to an AI. Curiouser and curiouser.

And that’s as deep as I’m gonna delve into this gumball rally of gore. For returning audiences wondering where the flick’s endgame lies, it’s both familiar and new. Not soul crushingly new like New Coke, but more “better than we feared” new like the New Mutants. Also, no, that certain beloved pun-based explosive device (you know the one) does not make a return, despite it fitting this flicks goofy-as-fuck tone. A tad sad, but that’s just the way it is. At least we got this guy, so it’s not like we’re left empty handed!


Find someone who loves you the way this guy loves his giant fiberglass wiener.

So there you have it – Death Race 2050. I’m not gonna lie to you (or am I?), but upon my first viewing of it, I was the kid on Cthulhumas morning who was anticipating a severed head awaiting me under the burning tree of madness, only to find a basket of graphically soiled hobo underwear instead. I was hoping for a movie more akin to Death Race 2000 – a lower budget think piece disguised as a campy celebration of the normalization of violence. What I got was a slightly higher budgeted version of Death Racers with much the same eye violatingly miserable digital effects, written by people to whom the word “subtlety” seems to have a “that which shall not be named” air to it. An embodiment of every vulgarity Echternkamp and Yamashita recoiled at during their formative years, and have since become straight phobias. An offense equal to shitting into their respective grandmothers’ mouths.

Upon my second viewing though, I had one of those RARE changes of heart. Having suffered the shit tier special effects once and watching it with my expectational loins properly girded, I was able to ignore the visual garbage fire and really enjoy the extreme lengths to which Brand Echt and Holy ‘Shita didn’t just put their plans out there for us to see, but fired them into our faces via figurative bazooka. Their revulsion of subtlety works in their favor! It gives the whole movie a boost of Idiocracy style absurdity with a hot beef injection of Troma type energy, blatant sociopolitical subject matter, and tongues so firmly in-cheek that they’re seeing daylight. And in today’s climate? Being released mere days before Pissler’s inauguration? You couldn’t have picked a better time to release a movie like this if you had a DeLorean with a souped-up Mr. Coffee strapped to it. It’s one of those movies whose dialogue is endlessly quotable too, so if you hate flicks that focus on snappy-like-a-mousetrap exchanges and one-liners over more realistic speak, take your bland ass elsewhere.

Speaking of great lines, they’re nothing without proper delivery, which is where our cast comes in. And what a cast they are! All of the racers feel fleshed out, with their own defining moments and personal conflicts. The political participants and co-pilots (except Annie of course) have less dimensions than the characters in Megan Fox’s filmography, but the main cast tow the film fine on their own. The lines feel so natural coming out of their mouths that you almost feel like the characters themselves were tailored for the actors. It’s not high drama Oscar stuff. We’re not seeing the next generation of Streeps and DiCaprios here, but for what the roles required, I don’t think we could’ve gotten better than this batch of relative nobodies. That might sound like faint praise, but coming from someone who’d rather cuddle David Carradine’s bloated corpse in a closet for a night than watch The Departed again, consider it my official approval. Officially.

No matter how much I can indulge in everything else though, none of this helps wipe away the stain of DR2050‘s hideous coat of shit colored digital paint. It hangs heavy over the whole thing like a big brown cloud blotting out the sun. I hate the person who invented computer generated cars. And computer generated explosions. And computer generated gore. Fuck he/she/them with a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire and soaked in ghost pepper sauce. I blame The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, but then I tend to blame Tokyo Drift for most of the problems in my life. Every time I stub my toe or get a paper cut, you can usually hear me shouting “TOKYO DRIFT!” at the top of my lungs. ‘Struth.

In case It wasn’t obvious, I’m recommending this movie for those readers looking to have a laugh with a VERY liberal lean. Just go in expecting Syfy Original “quality” computer effects and you’re less likely to be as mortified as I was at first. If you’re looking for more serious car combat, watch Death Race instead (or again), or just let Fury Road blow your mind for the 20th time. Either way, I’ve had my say, so here’s to hoping it made your day. Later, taters!

Moral of the Story: God is a woman, and she is black as fuck.

Screenshots_____


“What’s new, pussycat? Whoooooa oh oooooooh!”


Prop Corn”? What, they couldn’t afford the real stuff? I’m not saying it had to be a case of that fancy Redenbacher bastard’s stuff, but nobody could just pony up for a few bags of generic store brand popcorn?!


In the future, people will be able to splice their genes with other species, Moreau style. Amanda here has just started her transition into a Lepus-American, and we at The Tomb wish her all the best!


Sadly, it’s not whether the black and Asian characters will be killed off, but which one will die first. Sorry, minorities.


“Oh no, darling. This isn’t an oral exam camera. Turn around and think warm thoughts!”


Our hero looks like the gimp from an intergalactic Ilsa movie.


Frankenstein and his car pose for their action figure box art.


From an alternate reality in which Michael Jackson lived well into his 80s and became not just the king of pop, but the king of the world.


NOT the type of face you want to wake up to! Or step out of the shower to! Or… come home to… or… you know what, no one should ever have to see that face… ever.


“How’s our repeal of The Constitution coming along? What do you mean ‘What are we going to replace it with’? No we don’t have anything to replace it with! That didn’t stop us from repealing Obamacare or Social Services, why should it stop us now?!”


“They actually think the audience is going to believe these painted dollar store swimming goggles are VR glasses! Ha ha ha ha ha!”


Presenting Mister & Missus Carl’s Jr. 2017!


“You see these sunglasses? They cost more than your car! Why? What’s so great about them? I DON’T FUCKING KNOW! IT DOESN’T MATTER! They cost more than any other pair of sunglasses, so that makes them (and by proxy ME) better!”


When your shadowcast’s Riff Raff calls in sick and Rocky has to pull double duty.


Gah! I’m being haunted by the ghost of Liberace!


I once ate a rancid can of alphabet soup on a dare, and the resultant game of gastric Scrabble I played in the toilet afterward spelled out something like that.

———————————————————
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Anubis will return next time in
“How Gurdy Got His Groove Back”

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

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

Episode 94 – Gacy (2003)

or “Pogo’s Big Adventure”

Featuring: Mark “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” Holton , Charlie “‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’” Weber , Adam “Full Metal Jacket” Baldwin

Director: Clive “Love for $17.50” Saunders

Writers: Clive “Love for $17.50” Saunders & David “Elle” Birke

Origin: USA

Also Known As: The Crawl Space

Review_____

“What’s the matter? Never seen a clown before?”

Hello, children. Sorry for the lack of content for the holiday season this year. I was helping Sobek file a defamation lawsuit against Geico on behalf of himself and other anthropomorphic members of the Crocodylia order over their “alligator arms” commercial. The litigation process has taken up a lot of my time and I have a bad feeling we’re not gonna win this one. Which especially sucks, because if we lose I don’t get paid, and if I don’t get paid, there are going to be some very disappointed shapeless horrors down in Cthuwhoville come Cthuyule morning. For anyone who hasn’t seen said discriminatory advertisement, here it is. Be warned though, if you’re of a delicate nature when it comes to vulgar specism, I don’t recommend watching it.

Disgusting. Speaking of disgusting, given my inability to provide any calendar apropos reviews about homicidal maniacs dressed up like Saint Nick, I thought I’d instead use this month’s Zodiac review to focus on another rotund man who dressed up in his own colorfully festive outfit and also enjoyed having young men in his lap!

Just a quick statement of random weirdness before we get started – I came up with the “Pogo’s Big Adventure” alternate title for this episode before discovering that Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure antagonist Francis (Mark Holton) plays the titular human horror show. Crazy, right? If my brain doesn’t time travel while I sleep, I’d be surprised. Especially since I keep buying pills from a blind woman behind Dollar Embargo that says they do just that…

Today’s movie calls itself “semi-biographical” and was produced in those glory days of the early aughts when it felt like a new direct-to-DVD movie about one real life serial killer or another was materializing on the New Releases shelf at Blockbuster every few months. Despite my enjoyment of the true monsters who make fictional fiends look like sugar plum fairies in comparison, the only of said movies I’d actually seen before this was Ed Gein. Not just because Eddie G’s my favorite maniac (because of the horror classics he inspired), but because it starred my favorite Charles Manson, Steve Railsback, as Wisconsin‘s favorite son! It also featured the always amusingly monikered Carrie Snodgrass. Heh heh, “Snodgrass”.

Speaking of people with names, here’s one of my patented Fun Facts for ya, Gacy co-writer David Birke also wrote the screenplay to Elle – a French revenge film that sees the head of a video game studio hunting down her rapist in one of those “games of cat and mouse” dealies. That tried and true term always brings to my fore-brain the thought of two people assaulting each other with frying pans and rolling pins a la Tom & Jerry. As of this review, Elle‘s actually a Golden Globe nominee for “Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language”, so Gacy could very well become retroactively artsy post-January 8th!

[Writer’s note: Elle did indeed win the little gold planetoid! Whether that ups Gacy‘s stock though has yet to be seen.]

Now, mothers and fathers, it’s time to gather the kids (but especially the boys) and teach them why shit like “stranger danger” may be the best life lesson for them to learn since “look both ways before crossing the streams”.

As soon as the opening credits start in, this lacking-in-funds line dance kicks off on the wrong foot. The background music is appropriately ominous and understated (not unlike our movie’s subject), but the credits themselves reek of “Lifetime Original” bullshit, transitioning in and out of focus as they enter and leave the screen. They’re too goofy not to groan at, which is never a good way to start off your movie about a murderous rapist of teen boys who spent his weekends dressing like a clown for kids’ parties! Oh, spoiler alert if you’ve never heard of John Wayne Gacy. Anyway, the power point presentation my friends and I put together for Civics class back in ’98 had a better credit roll than this tripe. And now, this free tripe!

(There was supposed to be a gif of this, but I kinda forgot to make it before sending the movie back to NetFlix, so… sorry.)

The follow-up disclaimer to these credits informally informs us that Gacy is inspired by events from the strangulating merrymaker’s life, but “Certain names, characters and events have been fictionalized”. In other words, don’t plan on citing it as a source when you write your “The Mass Murderer I Most Admire” report for 7th period History. I get the whole “the names have been changed to protect the innocent” thing, Sgt. Friday, but if you’re just making things up when it comes to the characters and the events, then what’s the fucking point?! The appeal of watching such a flick is supposed to be the true crime aspect, but you’re telling us ahead of time that two very important parts of a true crime story aren’t even true! You may as well have just made a completely fictionalized horror flick about Gacy stalking people as Pogo like all those great anti-biographical exploitation outings we’ve been given about Charles Manson over the decades! If you’re not going whole hog in either direction, you’re presenting would-be viewers with a product that sits in that weird Lifetime Original limbo between realities.


(or maybe it did?)

And given how terrible I am at limbo (my back’s not what it used to be…“back snot”?), it’s as likely as getting an instant STD collection from a bareback juggalo gangbang that this venture won’t end well for me. *rimshot*

Our tale of half-truths (and possible falsehoods) opens in a nameless area of Wisconsin circa 1953, a mere year after the inception of Tommy Bartlett’s famous water show (not to be confused with Billy Barty’s infamous water show…because it involved him R. Kellying on prostitutes dressed as nuns) and 20+ years before that whole giant invading space spiders misunderstanding. The land of cheese and honey (or just more cheese in this case) was home to a young Johnny Gacy (Scott Alan Henry and his 3 first names!) and his father, also named Bort John (Adam Baldwin, who is not a Baldwin brother). The two take a father and son fishing excursion where John Sr. denotes his dislike for “dirty city air”, tells Junior that he needs to stop spending so much time “in that room of yours”, and intends to teach the awkward, chubby lad how to fish. But, as they’re cooking their catch over the ol’ campfire that night (and after dad’s had one too many of the ol’ brewskies), Senior expresses his disappointment in his boy’s inability to treat the time-honored tradition of the fishening with the respect that luring lower lifeforms into impaling their mouths on metal hooks deserves.

By the way, being the podunk punk that I am, I’m not knocking fishing. I’ve done it many times in my life and enjoyed the empowerment of acquiring my own dinner fresh from the cesspool. But respecting it? That’s another joke entirely. It’s a hobby, not a sacred ritual of adulthood like when Arborian boys have to stick their dick into a wood beast den to prove they’re worthy of buying their own cigarettes.

Dad’s disappointment transmogrifies into outright loathing in the blink of an eye when he gives Lil’ John the ol’ “Bing Crosby I Love You” right in the face! The left hook raises Chunk’s ire enough that he tackles his old man to the ground, laying in a few of the best haymakers his chubby fists can muster before an impromptu stoppage of whimpering. Dad calls him a jag-off who doesn’t have the guts to beat up his own father before sending the boy to bed with a literal kick in the ass. It’s all very reminiscent of that episode of ‘Leave It to Beaver’ where Ward did the same to Wally on their own camping trip before burning the kid with his pipe and telling him “Bitches get stitches”. Nothing like the ol’ ’50s father-son manly bonding!

Speaking of boy ass **cringe**, from this happy family moment we time jump ahead an indeterminate amount of chronological progression later (would a simple time period be too much to ask for, movie?!) when, having served a year-and-a-half sentence in an Iowa reformatory for sodomizing a boy, JWG was paroled and returned to his hometown of Chicago to “try to put his life back together”. Isn’t one of the rules of a parole that you’re not supposed to leave the state or even the county? When exactly was his parole and when did he leave for Chicago? Even when Gacy is sticking as close to the true story as it can, it’s way too obtuse with the details. (After-the-fact note: having gone back and read up on Gacy’s history between the initial conception of this review and its finish, it turns out that the move to Chicago was part of his parole agreement. Would that have been so hard to mention, movie?!) 6 minutes in and already I feel I’d be learning far more from reading the man’s Wikipedia page than I will watching this movie. Fuck, I’m confident that I’d find more info on the movie’s Wikipedia page than what the movie is gonna provide at this point! Where’s my non-FDA approved nerve tonic when I needs it?!


Thanks, coach!

We stop time jumping and join the movie in 1976 where, at his home in the Chicago suburb of Des Plaines (which is French for “The Plains”), we’re introduced to adult John Jr. and his family. There’s his mom (Edith Jefferson), his wife Kara (Joleen Lutz), and their two girls Tammy and April (Jessica and Grace Hanamoto respectively), both of whom I’m sure were relieved not to have been born with Y chromosomes once their dad’s after dark antics were exposed. Uggh. That’s a stomach churner of a thought. Uh-oh…here comes that nerve tonic!

After-the-fact note: Though not mentioned in the movie, this is actually John’s second marriage and the girls were from Kara’s prior marriage. His original wife (I don’t know her name, look it up) did birth him two brats, one of which was indeed a male, so it’s a good thing she divorced the portly psycho after that criminal sodomy business. She may have saved their son a lifetime of similar treatment. Small victories.

The first half-hour of the flick introduces us to the type of guy Gacy was when he wasn’t picking up underage male prostitutes and strangling them to death. A real schmoozer, he kept good relations with his community and built himself the reputation of a generous Democrat always looking out for his fellow human being…which he was of course masquerading as, since he was never human, just a sentient pile of sewage and congealed evil in a poorly maintained patchwork skin suit. I’m shocked the trumpublicucks don’t add that to their Abe Lincoln slogans. “We had Abe Lincoln! They had John Wayne Gacy!”. JWG also owned a small construction business staffed entirely by off-the-books teenage boys from around the neighborhood. If you think this is going to lead to terrible things, not unlike putting a dozen sea otters in a pool with a baby seal, then congrats because you just graduated magna cum laude from Nostradamus University.

If our movie is to be believed, the repugnant subhumanoid slime mold wasn’t just a serial killing sodomite, but also a HUGE deadbeat! This bites him in the ass in two instances (the second of which turns out to be complete horseshit for the sake of spicing up the finale), the first of which sees his disgruntled brat pack employee Stevie (Devon Sawa look-a-like Jeremy Lelliot) and a pair of “legitimate business associates” mugging John in a parking lot for overdue wages. During the fracas (and several other times in the movie), Gacy cites a heart condition and threatens his aggressors with murder charges if he croaks as a result of being terrorized into an attack. Despite my presumptions that this was a falsity Sluggy G used to try and guilt his creditors into cooling off, the real deal did have a legit heart condition since childhood. Though the trio made off with whatever paper Fatty had on him, JWG wasn’t about to let such a (deserved) slight stand. So, that night (I presume), he pulled a Copperfield and made Stevie disappear, leaving behind little more than a pile of clothes, a soiled mattress and a bad smell in his wake.

Did someone say “bad smells”? Yes! It was me. I just said it in the last paragraph. Anyway, one of the running themes of the movie is the horrible odor and mysterious scads of cockroaches and maggots coming from the crawlspace under the Gacy family’s charming 3 bedroom ranch home. Ominous for anyone who doesn’t know what’s coming, but it drags ass like a midget with a 40lb lead butt plug in their colon for the rest of us who already know the source of said verminous scourge. Then there’s people like me who are throwing empty bottles at the TV because the cockroaches on screen are just the harmless hissing breed that movieland uses because they’re bigger and thus more hideous to the casual viewer, while the so-called maggots are, in fact, mealworms. I don’t find the worms to be nearly as skin-crawling as actual maggots (fucking Phenomena *shivers*), but maggots also come with the added difficulty of the short maturation period effects folk are left to work with when it comes to genuine fly babies. Meanwhile, mealworms come with a longer shelf-life and are no doubt easier to shoot given their size and color.

Oh, and as today’s justification for The Tomb’s government sponsored education grant, I have a related lesson with which to give thine noggins a floggin’ – despite their name, mealworms are not worms! They are instead larva that will go pupa and finally turn beetle if you don’t just shove ’em down your pet iguana Tyrone’s throat. The name of this final evolution? The mealworm beetle. In other words, the larva is so more well known than its final form that the beetle is named after it! By Pokemon terms, that would be like calling a Beedrill a Weedle Beetle…which sounds like one of those names a preschool teacher would ask their students to use when referencing penises, because anatomical terminology is too egregiously upsetting for puritan pantywastes to handling hearing out of the mealy mouths of their otherwise angelic offspring.

And it’s this piss-poor empowering of “bad words” through their introduction as forbidden fruit that results in entire generations of adults like myself whose casual conversing comes off like a Tourette’s patient that learned English by watching Cheech & Chong movies and George Carlin’s HBO specials to make up for the 16 or so years of vocabulary policing by otherwise proud parents. Shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits!

Gacy’s taste for ‘Tiger Beat’ meat was probably just due to him being a middle-aged, out-of-shape guy sexualizing the younger generation as a way to make himself feel younger or abuse both the power differential he held over them and their naivete in the ways of the adult world. The physical assaults and murder stuff were clearly contributed to his agonized upbringing, illustrated in the otherwise pointless opening. In case you missed that little lesson in Cinema Psychology 101, worry not as we’re reminded of it later when JWG hears his fist happy father’s insults in his head while our killer attempts to cave in his employee Dave (Kenneth Swartz)’s skull with a hammer! Sleazy (the worst Smurf) “snaps out of it” when the kid puts up enough of a fight to fend Fatso off, leaving John apologizing profusely while trying to excuse the attack as an “accident”. He helps bandage Davy’s ruptured dome as the boy whimpers like a injured animal (a genuinely well acted scene from Swartz, I must say) before warning him not to tell anyone about “them” because it’ll just end badly for both parties. “Them”? What do giant radioactive ants have to do with this? Whatever. Gacy also buys Dave’s silence before sending him home, having the nerve to call after him with “And don’t be late tomorrow”!? Holy Skipper double-dipper! I’m so flabbergasted by that that I just said “Holy Skipper double-dipper”.

While we know where this train wreck is destined to derail, Kara’s still in the suspicions phase when she finds several pairs of jeans far too small for John stuffed away in a dresser drawer (why would he keep their pants!?), then furthers said suspiciousnesses when she uncovers her hubby’s secret stash of fag mags (written for the rhyme, not out of malice) and handcuffs in the garage. She focuses her attention on the cuffs, no doubt subconsciously ignoring the MASTADONIC DILDO sitting adjacent to them in the drawer! At least now she knew why John never needed Ex-lax despite their constant ingestion of meat.

Sadly, a lot of gay men (Gacy only professed to being bisexual in real life) had to marry and procreate to beard over their true faces in the '70s, so this wasn't uncommon. Just look at Mike Brady. The poor guy married, had 3 boys, then had to remarry when his first wife died just to keep up the deception! Look it up!

As if her findings weren’t bad enough for an ignorant/in denial wife to unveil, Kara’s discovery just so happened to fall on Mothers Day, dumping a whole bag of salt on the seething, gaping, metaphorical wound now carved into her soul. Despite his declaration of “I’m not! You know I hate homos!”, rather than play along with it like Carol Brady and just accepting her spouse’s penchant for boy bumming, Kara takes the girls and moves out…but not before calling him a “jag-off”. Was that really an insult used in those days?! I thought it was an invention of the ’90s, not a popular phrase of the ’50s and ’70s. It feels so out of place, like an Amish buggy lined up at the Arby’s drive-thru.

Having revealed John’s secret a mere 36 minutes into the runtime, the movie makes no further efforts to hide what’s happening in the crawlspace and transitions from thriller to slasher faster than Flyboy got his blueface on in Dawn of the Dead. Hell, the very next scene following the girls’ exodus is just John dragging a young man’s bloodied body down there to dispose of! Can you imagine how much of a pain in the ass it must’ve been for Tubby to bury all of those bodies down there over the years? Shallow graves or not, digging holes in such cramped quarters had to be a bitch the size of Fenrir’s mom! I would’ve been relieved to have gotten caught just so I’d never have to dig another hole again for the rest of my inevitably short post-conviction life! Then again, knowing my luck I’d end up on a chain gang ironically digging ditches for whatever time I had left on death row. You could call me Sasha Grey, because one way or another I’d be getting fucked.

With spare space in his domicile now, John invites his handsome young employee Tom (Charlie Weber) to move in with him, given the boy’s troubles at home, constantly arguing with his parents as young adults are known to do. The fact that he wants to engage in premarital intercourse with his girlfriend Gretchen (Allison Lange) in a bed for once rather than his El Camino (which was a VW punch bug earlier…) also plays heavily into his decision, much to said gal’s chagrin given the rumors she’s heard about Creeper John. Not to be confused with Trapper John, who somehow mutated from Wayne Rogers into Parnell Roberts during his return flight home from Korea. War changes every man. Sometimes it even changes them into an entirely different man!

Were Tom smart, he’d just get himself a futon mattress for the back of that car-truck hybrid beast of his and drive his lady to Penetration Station in the Kmart parking lot under the stars every night! Chicks dig stars…or is that scars? Meh, let’s play it safe and say nothing gets the ovaries boiling (that’s what happens when women get horny, right?) like getting pounded in the back of an El Camino under the stars by a guy covered head-to-toe in a gnarled topographical map of scar tissue that makes Freddy Krueger look like an after photo from a Proactiv® commercial. Spanish. Fly.

With no one else around to hide his true nature from (Momma’s on a short trip to Arkansas), John briefly takes on another resident – prostiteen Roger (Joe Sikora), whose presence in the place isn’t voluntary. Whether Rog escapes or is let go is unclear, as we simply get a brief scene of him badly bruised, plumber’s crack in full effect, and violently coughing in a public park while JWG drives around with a menacing look on his mug. (After-the-fact note: the real life counterpart he’s based on was dropped off at a park by the actual Gacy, released for no clear reason. Maybe John just didn’t feel like having to dig another fucking hole for another of his fucking holes…blech.) Roger shows up again later looking for JWG, but unable to find him takes his frustrations out on the elderly mother, yelling at her about how her son’s a rapist animal. She tells him to fuck off, so Rog instead goes to the police to take his revenge nice and legal like.


There comes a point in everyone’s life where they look at themselves in the mirror and ask “Why didn’t I listen to my parents?”.

Mothers, your children are always capable of acts of horror the likes of which your misfiring biased brains will never conceive. When someone tells you your spawn is a sadistic sodomizer of unwilling abductees, do not brush it off as nonsense! Save yourself a possible accomplice accusation and get 911 on the fucking phone!

More on that later, though, because just when I was convinced that we’d never get an appearance by our subject’s coulrophobia triggering alter ego, right around the 50min mark I’m proven wrong! When a kid shows up to sell his car to the Nightmare of the Des Plaines (which is still French for “The Plains”) Boys’ Club, he interrupts the madman in full Pogo regalia! After the test drive, Gacy of course drowns the lad in his bathtub while Mother snores it up in her recliner. Things get even more grimly comical when John goes so far as to leave the kid’s corpse on their kitchen floor while going out to address other matters as mom continues to sleep through the entire scene! Did Adam Sandler produce this under a pseudonym?!

As much as you’d think going on a test drive around the local locale while dressed like a clown would be a poor idea when you plan on turning the kid you’re with into the local milk carton manufacturer’s newest star, such strange behavior is in accordance with the casual craziness Gacy has adopted since Kara’s exit. This reckless state of mind is only embiggened by the obese ogre’s 100% success rate in the field of snatch & stash! Even after he sells the now stolen car to one of his employees and said dumbass gets caught by the fuzz following a gas-and-dash incident, the dots continue to go unconnected! Crap like this must be why we never got a ‘CSI: Chicago’, because it’d take them 6 episodes to solve one case!

After-the-fact note: though much of the prior paragraph matches up to the truth, Gacy was never dressed as Pogo during any of his nightmarish acts. Also, the part about the stolen car being collected by the police is true, but the real cops were able to match the plates to those of the missing car, rather than the “two boats passing in the night” scene we get between the officers working the separate cases for the sake of audience tension.

JWG’s overconfidence continues when he sends a pair of his boys into the ‘space to dig trenches for laying down pipe. Not an innuendo, as they actually did do the digging despite disagreeing with the stomach churning unsanitary conditions, but said holes weren’t for plumbing purposes, rather they were to save John the effort of digging future graves himself. And he trusted these idiots to stay within the assigned parameters and not accidentally unearth some festering dude ho’s coagulating cadaver. Fuck’s sake. Possibly emboldened by his continued success at hiding his extracurricular hobby from the world at large, John plies Tom with bong loads and home movies in an effort to finally make his move. Not unlike my efforts to do the same with a waitress I worked with back in high school, Tom’s reaction is less than accommodating to John’s intentions. However, whereas Kristina simply rejected my efforts to give her my virginity before I even had the chance to awkwardly attempt to initiate, Tom freaks out when he realizes they’re watching gay porn and threatens to fuck his boss up in a wholesale manner not in line with what the grimy ol’ perv was hoping for. You can almost pinpoint the exact moment John’s heart breaks. So much for true love.

Instead of doing the sensible thing and getting the fuck outta Dodge after the incident, Tom continues to live in the manbomination's extra room. Hey, everybody's first apartment is gonna have some problems. You just suffer through them knowing that sometime in the future you'll be able to look back on it and laugh! Besides, it builds character. And good luck finding another place for that price that comes with access to a pool table and a room full of not-at-all-horrific clown paintings! Clearly not one to pass up a deal just because his landlord wants to forcibly insert objects into his asshole, Tom instead exercises caution and takes to sleeping with a cudgel. He also probably kept an eye on the Pennysaver to see if any of the local hardware stores were having a sale on chastity belts. Good luck, man. Those things only go on sale maybe twice a year!

John tries to pass off his pass making as a “test” to see if Tom was deserving of a promotion, which the hippie doesn’t buy but plays along with anyway until he can figure out how to proceed. You can’t just up and leave a job and break your lease without having contingencies lined up! As for Gacy, his deteriorating sanity contributes heavily to his inevitable downfall. Remember how he not only let Roger live but even dumped him off at a fucking public park in broad daylight? Well, Roger’s accusations don’t fall on deaf ears, because two plainclothes dicks establish a stakeout outside the fat man’s front door. The pair attempted to search the place, but without a warrant they’re shit outta luck, so constant surveillance verging on harassment in the hopes of catching him red-handed is the soup du jour! Whether the aforementioned “red” is blood or clown paint (or Manhattan clam chowder) isn’t clear.

Despite Starsky and Hutch car camping in his driveway, JWG’s severe psychosis STILL drives him to go out and sneak a mustache victim (in that it happens right under their noses) back into the house! His obsession with Tom and dodging the fuzz has been weighing heavy on the big lug’s mind though, so you can understand John’s mistake when he discovers there’s no more space in his ‘space for this latest notch on his DIY pillory. Always the improviser, he instead tosses the boy in his trunk, slips past the cops again and disposes of the corpse in the river under cover of a clear, sunny afternoon. Sweet chipotle cheese logs, this guy must’ve been born with a massive four-leaf clover shaped birthmark on his ass!

Unintentional Leprechaun reference/joke for those with geekcyclopedic knowledge.

Knowing that it’s only a matter of time until even his box of Lucky Charms goes stale, Gacy gives in to the crushing anxiety and, verging on a total breakdown, professes his laundry list of sins to his friend and fellow fried food aficionado Hal (played by professional Coleman Francis impersonator, Tom Waldman) and shares his plans to take an extended vacation to Belgium, where he will likely binge himself to death on Belgian Burgers…which is just a fist-sized lump of partially melted decadent chocolate between two square waffles…and is also something I just made up…but would now willingly trade one year of my lifespan for.

Hal doesn’t report any of this impromptu confessional to the police though, since the rabbit’s foot on Gacy’s keychain must have had a little juice left in it (rabbit juice? Nasty.), so John just heads home. There his ever increasingly lubricated (ewwww) grip on his own sanity leads to hearing voices and having flashbacks to the earlier days of his dirty deeds. When Tommy gives notice that he’s moving out to the west coast to “check things out”, John decides this is his last chance to take his romantic interest and would-be clowning sidekick to the bone zone against his will. He does so by betting the young lad $100 he can’t pull off Pogo’s “have your hands cuffed behind your back and Houdini out of them” trick. Tommy, who could always use another $100 for gas, grass and ass on his upcoming road trip, takes the challenge, discovering too late that the trick only works if you have the keys. Mwomp mwomp! Now, nobody deserves to be raped (well, except for rapists, dictators and Uwe Boll), but it’s also my mantra that stupidity should be punished, so…I’m not sure how to feel about this scenario.

Thomas must have a whole roll of lucky pennies in his pocket (or he’s just happy to see us) though, because he can thank his fortunate orifices (“orifi”?) that a guy named Ray (Rick Dean), to whom Gacy is indebted, chooses this of all moments to rampage onto the scene from nowhere like the proverbial t-rex teleported into a window warehouse (it’s an ancient Tibetan proverb that you’ve probably never heard of)! Interrupting Ray coldcocks (phrasing!) both John and Tommy without hesitation before emptying butterball’s wallet and leaving like an angry fart into the night.

After-the-fact note: If you think this timing reeks of being a little too convenient to be faithful to the actual events of our reality, then good for you because your bullshit detector is up to code. This is the “Hollywood” ending. The final nail in Gacy’s clown-painted penis was far less action packed god-in-the-machine chicanery and far more ‘Dateline’ procedural.

It turns out John can’t take a punch to save his life (literally in this case), while Tom and his sick denim jacket recover with a quickness and escape out the front door into the arms of the pork rinds awaiting outside. You can imagine where the story ends from there…but just in case you can’t, it involves lots of exhumed bodies and an overweight human horror show sitting in a jail cell demanding to see his lawyer. Just like the time I paid $60 to see a live performance of ‘God of Carnage’, only to discover that the title was a lie and the box office wouldn’t honor my demand for a refund!

According to the movie’s epilogue, the estimations of John Wayne Gacy’s gigolo fixation led to him “picking up” over 2000 men (most lured into his car with the flashing of a Chicago PD badge by his alias, “Detective Hanley”), making him the Wilt Chamberlain of teen boy rapist-murders. Only, you know, in this case the nickname of “The Stilt” would likely refer to an actual stilt JWC would’ve forced into his captives’ anuses. Oh Hel, here comes the rest of that tonic!

Not all of Gacy's conquests over the duration of his 6 year spree were killed, clearly, but 29 of those who were were exhumed from the now infamous crawlspace with an additional 4 fished out of the Des Plaines River, which is French for “The The Plains River”. On May 10th, 1994 (hey, just 5 days after my 13th birthday!) Gacy got the prick of death, with his last words reportedly being “Kiss my ass!”. As much of an irredeemable monster as he was, you gotta admit those are some pretty hardcore last words to go out on.

Say what you will about Gacy, he’s still not the worst human being to be attached to the name “John Wayne”! At least he never wore brown face to play Genghis Khan in a movie that resulted in the cancer deaths of over 40 cast and crew members, nor did he participate in a segment on WWF television wherein he saved an adulterer from phallic dismemberment by a gang of broad, evil, Japanese stereotypes! Then again, Gacy did rape and murder a lot of teenage boys, so…shit. Okay, okay, I guess he was the worst John Wayne. Definitely more deserving of getting his dangler hacked off by his wife, that’s for sure.

Though I'm still not a fan of the “some of it's real, some of it ain't” motif, what we get is understandably dramatized “movie of the week” style to help sell the flick to a broader audience. I actually did check out the insidious adventures of the Des Plaines butt plunderer after my first viewing of Gacy and, compared to the actual events, I can see why punching the story up a bit was preferable. It ignores certain important aspects of JWG’s upbringing, most notably his repeated molestation at the hands (literally) of a family friend and his unwillingness to tell his parents for fear that John Sr.’s abusive tendencies would direct the blame at him. This could have been left out intentionally so as not to risk the audience getting too sympathetic with our eponymous antagonist. There’s also zero mention of Gacy’s first marriage and children, nor the explanation that the daughters of his second marriage were actually stepdaughters from Kara’s prior nuptials, which I’m presuming to be for the sake of preserving more of the runtime for what the viewers really came for – murders!

Unfortunately, none of this excuses the oft times sloppy edits and incoherent moments that are never explained, many of which were covered in the review. If you are going to watch it for yourself (or you have already and have some of the same questions I did), you should look into the real story yourself, provided you’re inured enough to the horrors of reality to stomach it…which is the same warning I give to anyone who asks me if I can recommend a Dario Argento movie from the last 20 years.

There’s not a lot to talk about in terms of the movie’s style. Saunders didn’t seem to know if he was going for a suspenseful thriller or a cookie cutter slasher, and I’m genuinely surprised not to have seen a single thrown cat jump scare scene. Some moments come off as subtly unnerving, but others are just simple “okay, so he’s just gonna kill this guy next, right?” kill scenes, overly peppered with a lazy reliance on repeated shots of clown paraphernalia and writhing insects. The first half-hour held mild tension, but pulled a complete about-face for the remainder, spending the rest of the flick more worried about upping the body count than manipulating the viewers’ emotions. Not that there’s anything wrong with a sizable body count, mind you, but this just adds fuel to the “reality versus exaggeration” conflict that’s been the running theme for this entire episode!

Speaking of exaggeration, you can make a convincing argument that Gacy is an exploitation movie. Not in the traditional sense of swathes of sex and violence and vulgar acts strewn across the screen, but in that its DVD cover exploits would-be buyers. Despite the menacing Pogo image advertised, the single appearance by Gacy’s face painted alter-ego doesn’t jive with his lack of prominence in the feature itself! You know those pictures on the menus at fast food places that include the accompanying disclaimer of “picture may not represent actual food”? They need one of those disclaimers asterisked to the bottom of this DVD. Do your job, MPAA! At least HBO’s JWC movie, To Catch a Killer, gave us exactly what its VHS box promised – big ol’ Brian Dennehy! Well, with the exception of the Danish release, which seemingly promised us “Attack of the Fifty Foot B-Actor” Dennehy gazing somberly at Matthew Broderick’s silhouette from the Project X (1987) poster.

In conclusion, Gacy suffers from something of an identity crisis. I do have to admit that the cast helps make it an easier watch, as they’re all perfectly competent and deserving of whatever presumably minor paychecks they cashed for their work. Holton gets special mention for his work as the spiritual Ebola that is JWG, bouncing back and forth between a psychopath whose public face garners him the respect of his community and the trust of his victims, while his true face fosters fear and discomfort upon us in equal parts, until his mental breakdown almost plants a seed of minute pity for the guy. It’s an overlooked role that the guy deserves more credit for, but will never dig him out of his infamy as Chubby from the Teen Wolf movies or the fat jag-off who stole Pee Wee Herman’s bicycle.

You know who would make for a great Gacy, should he ever accept an offer to play the most hated clown not named “Pennywise”? John Goodman. The man’s got so much range and a physique that’s both comical and intimidating, he’d be perfect for the part! Well, he would have been, say 20 years ago. If I find an alternate dimension where this was a thing that happened, I’ll let everyone know.

As a final piece of FYI trivia, did you know that the beverage John Wayne Gacy chose as part of his last meal was a Diet Coke? Just another reason I’m a proud Pepsi drinker!

Moral of the Story: If a stranger offers to cuff your hands behind your back, jam your fingers into their eyes and run like Usain Bolt being chased by a rabid cheetah! Unless the stranger’s a member of law enforcement, in which case this conversation never happened.

Screenshots_____


“Son, your mother and I have been having a lot of problems as of late, and we agree that it’s all your fault. So, rather than get divorced, I’ve brought you out here to kill you and bury you in a shallow grave. Look at it this way – at least now you won’t have to deal with things like school bullies or impotence!”


This is where the neighborhood parents hold their weekly Toddler Fight Club meetings. The first rule of Toddler Fight Club? Always bet on the one who’s clearly a midget pretending to be a child, but no one says anything because they don’t know what to call him without being called racists.


“Yeah, I may just be a Devon Sawa look-a-like, but you know what I’m not? The asshole who thought SLC Punk 2 was a thing the world needed!”


So this is what it’s like when world’s collide. (You know… cuz they’re both big and round… like planets… Well, it was this or a sumo wrestling joke that I couldn’t concoct a punchline for!)


“Oh come on, mister! When I said I could suck a dick for a Shasta right now, that doesn’t count as a verbal contract!”


Mr. and Mrs. Roeper star in The Thing with Two-Heads Part 2: Two’s Company!


Anubis ProTip #561: just because Mitchum claims to be “So effective you can skip a day.”, it doesn’t mean you should.


“Handcuffs?! I’ve been trying to get John to experiment with BDSM for 15 years and he always tells me it’s for perverts and weirdos!”


Someone needs to tell John that gasoline soaked rags are not a proper form of antiseptic.


“You and me are gonna have a real good… What the fuck? Do you have LICE!? Gross! Get the hell out of my rape room before you contaminate the whole house, you scumbag!”


Yeah, that was my reaction leaving the theater after I paid to see The Phantom Menace on opening night. All that time hunting limited edition Pepsi cans for nothing.


I used to dress like that to answer the door whenever the Witnesses came by hawking ”Watchtower”. It got to be too much effort though, so I switched to nothing but a hockey mask and a pair of tighty-whities with the Bat Signal Sharpied onto the front. That’s all I’m legally allowed to say about it, so let’s move on.


Some people take their apple bobbing training way too seriously!


Trapped in a closet? Where’s R. Kelly when you need him!? Oh… that’s right… eww.


If Michael Berryman and Paul Scheer had a baby… and kicked it down some stairs.


Gacy used to be one of those weirdos who wears multiple watches at once, but had to stop because he had *cue the music* too much time on his haaaands!
(That one was for you, Tommy Shaw.)


Gacy auditions to be the next in the long line of recent Colonel Sanders actors. His motivation for this scene? “Pretend you’re Marv Albert and the chicken wing is a succulent prostitute!”


Ever since he saw The Tooth Fairy, Tommy’s been unable to sleep without a baseball bat by his side.


I’m just really not enjoying The Asylum’s latest mockbuster, The Large Balooski. I mean, it’s been 20 years so… why?

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Anubis will return next time in
“The West Wing: Japan”

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

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

Episode 91 – Phantasm: RaVager (2016)

or “Balls of Fury”

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

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

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

Origin: USA

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

Review_____

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…[Pause for station identification]…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Screenshots_____


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

Episode 89 – 31 (2016)

or “Send In the Clowns”

Featuring: Sherri “The Lords of Salem” Moon Zombie , Richard “DOOM” Brake , Jeff Daniel “Westworld (2016)” Phillips

Director & Writer: Rob “The Devil’s Rejects” Zombie

Origin: USA

Review_____

“I’m not here to brighten your dismal day. I am here to end your miserable fucking life!”

Hey kids! One concept I tried to get over in The Tomb’s dark age was The Zodiac of Anubis, in which every year a specific movie monster would get the annual spotlight of having a review done on their sub-genre each month. After considering resurrecting the Zodiac for the last couple o’ calendars, I’ve finally decided this is the year. As such, I bid you welcome as we begin, “The Year of the Painted Horrors”!


With the public panic about dickheads donning clown costumes and menacingly loitering around parks and wooded areas in recent weeks, I thought the pariahs of the Barnum & Bailey family would be the best subject for celebration. Per this event, every 13th day up to September 2017 will be dedicated to movies centralized on greasepainted gore makers. In a matter of cosmic coincidence, look at what just happened to release recently – a Rob Zombie movie about murderous clowns! Call it kismet, call it circumstance, whatever you call it, the Roadhouse Necromancer himself calls it 31.

Whether you’re a fan of his work or not, one thing that’s irrefutable is Zombie’s superiority to Uwe Boll. All personal opinions aside, if going by no other metric, the propagator of sinister urges clearly trumps the defiler of video game franchises when it comes to the crowdfunding arts. After a pair of failures to get his project Rampage 3 financed (first via IndieGoGo and again through Kickstarter), Boll went on a rampage of his own, throwing a fit online with a meltdown video where he basically told everyone to fuck themselves. Who would’ve thought people wouldn’t be willing to donate their money to someone who makes SHITTY movies for the purpose of making MORE shitty movies? On the other side of the coin, Rob Zombie’s FanBacked campaign netted him… an as-yet-undisclosed amount. Kinda sketchy. And I’m presuming a lot of that money came from the reward tier that included lifetime VIP passes to every Rob Zombie show, so I don’t know how accurate a gauge it is in determining the number of people who were just chomping at the bit for another installment in the Zombie filmography… BUT, whatever the case, my prior statement stands – Rob Zombie is better than Uwe Boll at crowfunding! Game over!

Some people piss and moan about crowdfunded projects, and 31 isn’t lacking in such detractors. Cries of “Pay for your own movie, loser!” ring throughout the internet, but said people are missing the point of these endeavors. The real reason for such independent efforts at collecting capital are two fold – to gauge consumer interest in such a product and to cut out the corrupting influence of deep pocket financiers. For example, I run The Tomb free of advertisements because I don’t want to be beholden to any company execs bitching at me about my offensive words and concepts, or how I should only review big movie stuff so as to up click traffic. Fucketh that. Now, I was hoping to somehow monetize the site for the purposes of having it support itself, so I put up the Patreon page to test the waters and see if these reviews and ramblings were worthwhile of readers’ pennies. Unfortunately, since I’ve yet to acquire a single contributor (even after offering exclusive Patreon only reviews to make it worth said patronage), it’s clear that I’ve yet to find an audience willing to bridge the gap between readers and customers. THIS is why 31 was made and Rampage 3 was not – there are enough people willing to put their hard earned buckets of duckets behind another Rob Zombie project than there are willing to get behind another Uwe Boll movie. Having never been in a position where I could afford to lend my support to someone else’s creative vision, I more than appreciate those who are in that position, because without them, people like myself wouldn’t be able to see the fruits of those labors. You’re doin’ the work of the gods, kids. Just don’t GoFund any magic bean gardens, cuz the only goose those’ll lead you to will be on your bank account. Insert your own “grab ’em by the pussy” joke here, because the more I have to think about that garbage, the more I die inside.

Now, what’s all this 31 stuff aboot?

In an interview with Fangoria, Zombie said that fans were pretty insistent that they wanted his next run behind the camera to be another movie focused on the trio of domestic terrorists who took center stage in his first flicks, House of 1,000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects. Instead, he opted to respond with something new. He noted that people didn’t know even know they wanted The Devil’s Rejects before the movie was made, so rather than play it fiscally safe by supplying consumers with more of what they demand, he chose to play Russian Roulette and tried to convince them to pay for something new… well, something heavily “borrowed” from other movies, but technically altered to be something new… and hopefully some big studio copyright lawyers don’t catch wind of it and attempt to sue everyone involved with its making… like Bobby Z’s philanthropic followers, perhaps? I mean, I’m no law school graduate but… actually, that means in a legal situation I have less legs to stand on than the titular heroin of Boxing Helena. Ignore me on that. The same way Horus ignored me on my birthday.

Yeah, I’m not forgetting that anytime soon. Go eat a box of uncooked Rice-A-Roni, you bird faced fuck boy.

Unlike many of his last few movies, 31 is a simple A-Z tale. Much like House of 1000 Corpses, it centers on a group of happy-go-lucky buddies, trapped in a “The Most Dangerous Game” struggle for survival against sadistic predators who revel in their perceived vulnerability. In this instance, said dangerous game isn’t man, but a literal game called “31”, because of its annual occurrence on October 31st aka Halloween. This numerical factoid was part of why so many people were sure this project was originally going to be the finale of Zombie’s Halloween trilogy, only spurred on by the use of a shabby clown mask in early promotional material. Mayhaps eluding to little Mikey Myers’ use of a clown mask when he went on his inaugural killing spree as a kid? Nope. Turns out the clown mask was just a precursor to the 31 “hunters”, who are clowns… from Satan’s 666 Ring Circus of Eternal Sin and Suffering! Formerly known as the Playboy Mansion aka Hugh Hefner’s Whore House of Soul Crushing Defilement for Rich Old Men and Washed-Up Comedians. I wonder how many of the bunnies forced to give handjobs to Rob Schneider and John Lovitz in the grotto opted for “eternal peace” over lifetimes of PTSD.


The organizers of this carnival of blood are a trio of Ruling Class sadists named Father Murder (Malcolm McDowell), Sister Serpent (Jane Carr) and Sister Dragon (Judy Geeson). They have the Eyes Wide Shut naked lady servants waiting on them, while they dress like French aristocrats with heavy pancake makeup and elaborate powdered wigs. Their hired gang of buffoon goons wear face paint and are all saddled with the odd surname of “Head” for some reason. We start with the Latino Nazi midget Sick-Head (Pancho Moler). This twisted and hateful half-man is followed up by a pair of chainsaw wielding brothers in Leatherface masks (made up like Otis and Captain Spaulding) called Schizo- and Pyscho-Head (David Ury & Lew Temple). Next is another pairing, consisting of the brutal bohemoth (and near-copyright infringingly named) Death-Head (Torsten Voges) and his creepy little perv-o girlfriend Sex-Head (E.G. FUCKING Daily!) who’s just a less savage version of Sherri Moon-Zombie’s Baby Doll character dressed like a porn parody of Harley Quinn.

Be forewarned: among her many roles over the expanse of her career, E.G. Daily’s resume includes being the voice of Tommy Pickles on “Rugrats”. During one scene, where Sex-Head is crying in agony (spoiler, deal with it), she sounds like Tommy fucking Pickles. Yeah. Process that how you will.

Finally, there’s Doom-Head (Richard Brake). Doom-Head, who is the main reason to watch this movie. Holy shit. I didn’t know I was a Richard Brake fan until I watched 31. As generic as the rest of this movie may be, this motherfucker makes it unforgettable for me. He opens the movie going on a murderous soliloquy with one of his previous year’s victims that injects our brains with a massive dose of the heebie-jeebies. Not spooky shit, like the monster at the end of [REC], but that gut twisting “there are actually people like this in the darkest septic tanks of humanity” terror that makes you want to hide away from the world forever and buy stock in Smith & Wesson. Remember the Bloodhound Gang song, “A Lap Dance Is So Much Better”? If The Dick Braker here read those lyrics, I might throw up, because he could get them across ten times more nauseating than they already are. It’d make hearing trump talk about sexually assaulting women sound like Mary Poppins reading Dr. Seuss in comparison. Just thinking about it is agitating my chili dinner something fierce, so I’m gonna stop before I get a ghost pepper lodged in my sinuses. Again. Uggh.

Wait a minute! How the fuck does Zombie make a movie where all of the killers have “Head” in their name, and he doesn’t include one named “Iron Head”?! Granted, it wasn’t one of the better tracks off of The Sinister Urge, but this is the perfect place to bring the “demonoid phenomenon” juggernaut demigod to flesh (and iron)! Wasted opportunity.

And now, for the least interesting part of any Rob Zombie movie – the protagonists. This year’s victims of 31 are a motor home full of carnies! Yep, in keeping with our writer/director’s favored aesthetic of “Texas white trash chic”, the unsung heroes (and appropriately disparaged villains) of the midway take center stage, captured by a gaggle of mask wearing hijackers who stop them along a deserted highway in the middle of the night. Half the crew are killed in the exchange, while the remaining quintet are knocked out and taken away, waking up later in shackles. Of these five, if you think anyone other than the one played by Zombie’s wife Sherri is going to be the mandatory “final girl”, then you aren’t familiar with the esteem in which Bobbie Z holds his bride… except for the constant torment he puts her through with all of the fake blood and harassment and making her do her own stunts and shit. I wouldn’t be shocked to find out she files a temporary restraining order against her husbo after filming wraps on every movie they do to avoid having to file divorce papers instead… until the next movie, anyway.

Aside from being victims, there’s nothing to really make you care if the good guys live or die. There are some canned moments where they’ll comfort each other or defend each other and try to force that “these people aren’t just friends, they’re family” moment to no avail. Not quite as useless as treating cancer with a mix of Robitussin and prayer, but ineffective enough. The same could be said for the last 10 minutes of the movie, which… just… fuck it, I’m not gonna break my vow. Why bother giving us balloons if your endgame is just to pop ’em, Mr. Zombie? Dick.

Speaking of “Dick”, let’s get back to the load bearer of the movie, Richard Brake. Because I’d rather talk about him instead. Given that Brake featured fairly prominently into the movie version of DOOM, I’m curious if that was the motivation behind the name “Doom-Head”. Of further interesting ponderances to ponder, Brake played Joe Chill in Batman Begins, the otherwise unspectacular street thug who killed Bruce Wayne’s parents. In Tim Burton’s Batman, Joe Chill was replaced by Jack Napier, who would go on to become Jack Nicholson’s immortal portrayal of The Joker… an evil clown. Is it fate that Richard Brake, who killed Thomas and Martha Wayne, has now gone on to become a psychopathic serial killing clown too? No. Because fate’s not a thing. Those hags at the loom? They’re the Wimp-Los of mythology. We just play along while laughing at them behind their backs.

31‘s themes map out as if it’s the result of a weekend tour bus nerd binge by Zombie between performances. Borrowing heavily from Rockstar’s Manhunt games (kidnapped protagonist must fight his way out of a giant snuff film version of The Warriors) and/or The Running Man (unwilling “contestants” are chosen to fight for their lives in a game show where they’re hunted by murderous characters, each with their own gimmick), with a dash of “The Hunger Games” (the impoverished are forced to fight to the death for the entertainment of wealthy people in extravagant costumes), a pinch of Marvel Comics (a circus themed arena of death just straight up called “Murderworld” for fuck’s sake!), then sifted through a grindhouse era filter (“scratched film” visual effect, grimy tones, gore and depravity are key), and finally sifted again through a filter of one of the worst filming methods to come out of the 21st century (fucking SHAKEY CAM!). There’s a nod to The Rocky Horror Picture Show‘s infamous dinner scene for dessert, minus the whimsical birthday hats and the tense atmosphere of everybody at the table having cheated on each other with everybody else. Despite my enjoyment for most of these things (or maybe in spite of it), what we get is an overall recipe for… mediocrity.

I get that Zombo grew up on horror movies and comic books and all that jazz that most people who come to this site probably share an affinity for, but COME ON! When are we going to get something more original out of this guy?! House of 1,000 Corpses was an homage to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The Lords of Salem was an homage to Rosemary’s Baby. Halloween was a reboot and an overt homage to Frankenstein by trying to give the monster context and sympathy. The Haunted World of El Superbeasto was an homage to Fritz the Cat and every other crazy-ass Ralph Bakshi cartoon ever made, starring a character that’s just a goofy version of El Santo or Blue Demon. Even his most loved movie, The Devil’s Rejects is basically just a white trash mash up of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place”!

Okay, that last part was mostly a joke (mostly), but you get my gist.

I can understand Bob’s preference to direct his own scripts, as I too have control issues, but I’d like to see him direct something that’s both original and written by someone else. And that doesn’t include Sherri on the cast. It’s nothing personal against her, I don’t even mind her as an actress, it’s just part of my wanting a vacation from the same old same. We’ve been watching the man’s stuff since 2003. We’re overdue on the seven year itch, Rob. You talk about giving people something different, but all you did was rehash your older stuff and berate us with shaky cam shit. You’re not Michael Bay, nor should you wanna be. Just stop it. I haven’t paid for one of your albums since “The Sinister Urge” man, and I’m verging on skipping your next movie at this rate too…

But who gives a clown-shaped shit what I think? Opinions are like assholes – we’ve all got one. I’m just here to make jokes and channel my disdain for life in a fashion that won’t end with me behind bars sharing a toilet with some IBS suffering serial rapist. And on that note, cue the end credits!

So begins The Year of the Painted Horrors. I’ll have more clownin’ around for you come November 13th! Until then, we’ve still got two more weeks of Rocktober Blood to spill, so be sure to check back for more journeys into motherfucking terror with your ol’ pal, Five-Speed Anubis of the Questionable Morality!

Moral of the Story: If you thought shaky cam was the worst thing to happen to movies since Smell-O-Vision (forget it Fudd, that shit’ll NEVER replace television!), wait until you see shaky cam WITH STROBE LIGHTING!

Screenshots_____

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Anubis will return next time in
“Balls of Fury”

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

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