Featuring: Michael “The Video Dead” St. Michaels , Sky “Don Verdean” Elobar , Elizabeth “‘Eastbound & Down’” De Razzo
Director: Jim “ABCs of Death” Hosking
Writers: Toby “ABCs of Death” Harvard & Jim “ABCs of Death” Hosking
As I sit here, eating room temperature Dollar Embargo brand clam chowder hobo style (well, my spoon is plastic rather than metal, so “sub-hobo style” then), the looming presence of the anniversary of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre reminds me of lost loves. In this case, my most recent (and likely final) failed foray into matters of the heart dropkicks her way to the forefront of my fractured psyche. We fell for each other hard and fast. After the first week she was deep into “I’ve never known anyone like you. I need you like oxygen” territory and we were exchanging ‘L’ words. Hers was “lederhosen” and mine was “lemon curry”. But, only five weeks after that vindictive little pervert Cupid nailed us with a heart-shaped nuke, we were overcome by the fallout. She broke up with me because her other boyfriend “accidentally” impregnated her, so she needed to focus on making an impromptu family with him and his other girlfriend, whom other boyfriend wanted her to “convince” that the best thing for them would be to join together as a trio. But we’ve all been there before, right? “Tale as old as time” and all that.
Anyway, rather than linger any longer on the “loved and lost” debate in the face of this Hallmark hollowday, I’ve instead paired up with my cinemasochist brother from the Hawkeye State (in that it’s the state with the lamest super power and nobody likes it?) to play a round of bad movie Russian roulette! From his secret list of six flicks (five farts and one favorite), random.org chose for me The Greasy Strangler.
Well, it could’ve been worse. I was one chamber away from the bullet of malaise known as Atlas Shrugged. Uggh. Ayn Rand is spending the rest of eternity getting her blood drained by razortooth leeches hanging on every inch of her body for writing that bullshit. Every inch. Anyway, let’s get greasy, disco people!
Oh, and if you’re anything like me (in which case, my sympathies) and were hoping this would be a US remake of The Oily Maniac, I fear that itch will have to remain unscratched…for now.
In keeping with the spirit of the holiday (or its symbolism if nothing else), today’s movie is about love. The love between a cheesy old cornball and a hootie tootie disco cutie. The love between a single parent and their child. The love between an aging disco historian and the music that shaped his life. The love between a pig-nosed weirdo and his rented shoes. The love between a man-beast and his penchant for strangling people…while drenched in grease. The Greasy Strangler is packed so tight with love, watching it will make you feel like you’re being crushed under a roomful of heart-shaped Whitman sampler boxes!
Damn. That was such a whopper of a metaphor. It was less a metaphor and more like a metaphive!
Shut up. You laughed. Liar.
Produced in part by hobbit-for-life Elijah Wood (who pulled similar duties on A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night and Cooties, in case you didn’t know), our tale takes place in Los Angeles. The City of Angels in the Outfield. The land of nasty redheads and bums on their knees that Randy Newman declared his passion for so, well, passionately. It’s here that tourists and everyday fans of walking tours can take part in Big Ronnie’s Disco Tour – a trudge through the down-trodden avenues and alleyways of abandoned buildings where the biggest names of the industry may or may not have done some things of interest. Just don’t inquire about the tour’s promise of free drinks, because you won’t like the result. Unless you tend to spend a lot of your lunch hours engaging in contradictory exchanges at the Argument Clinic, in which case inquire away!
The eponymous patriarch of the tour is geriatric retiree of the disco scene, Big Ronnie (Michael St. Michaels), who claims to have once had a backroom bang session with a pair of Korean twins and a certain celebrity whose name rhymes with Jichael Mackson. There was milky cum everywhere. And yes, before you ask in a distressed voice signifying your revulsion, that is an important detail I could not omit. Co-hosting the tour (in a matching uniform of pink shorts, pink sweater, gray knee-high socks and white sneakers) is Ronnie’s son Big Brayden (Sky Elobar), for whom the adjective “big” clearly wasn’t earned due to his personality. An awkward, balding, unkempt milksop of a human being, Brayden manages to catch the hungry eyes of an odd little lady named Janet (Elizabeth De Razzo) during one such tour. The pair fall fairly quickly for each other, testing the audiences’ gastrointestinal fortitude with a series of uncomfortable scenes of intimacy. You’ve been warned.
Ronnie doesn’t take the pairing well, frequently debasing his boy to others (mostly over Bray’s tendency to shit on seemingly everything) and inserting himself into the lovebirds’ interactions in an attempt to nip their budding romance in said bud. It’s never made clear if it’s because Ron sees Janet as a threat to the odd love-hate relationship he shares with Bray or if the old man’s just jealous that his hideous offspring is getting more action than his own hideous self has had since Bill Clinton was using Monica’s ham wallet as a humidor.
Note: I didn’t use the descriptive “ham” because of a thinly veiled referral to Miss Lewinsky having any perceive resemblance to a member of the porcine family. I used it because ham is both pink and greasy, much like a lady’s rude parts (as long as you’re doing it right, anyway), so please keep any and all aggressive projections of your personal assumptions of me to things that don’t wrongly accuse me of chauvinism. Even my less-than-friendly exes would laugh you out of the room over such accusations.
Speaking of pigs, the rest of this oddball ensemble is made up of Brayden’s pig-nosed (literally) pal Oinker (Joe David Walters, who looks like the result of a drunken night of genetic engineering between Jon Benjamin and Wallace Shawn), Ronnie’s longtime discotheque brother Big Paul (Gil Gex) who’s blind and runs an automated car wash, the wonderfully weird detective Jodie (who’s what I would expect Hunter S. Thompson to become after a few years in the Black Lodge) and a small selection of victims to serve as fodder for the titular wringer of necks. Speaking of, whom is this murderer with such a clear disregard for his own personal hygiene? From whence came this inhuman atrocity that stalks the streets while a coating of congealed Crisco conceals (not really) his visage from his victims? What evil lurks in the heart that beats beneath the monster’s slimy, sludgy, rancid raiments? Why does he take it upon himself to comedically maim and menace his victims in hyper-violent manners like a modern age Toxic Avenger? Shit! Now there’s a crossover I’d sacrifice a finger for! Anyway, as much as I’d like to address there queries for you, I’m afraid you’ll have to watch the movie for yourself!
But should you? Let’s discuss.
Greasy made me wonder if I’d blacked out at some point in my day and woke up during a very special episode of “Tim and Eric’s Bedtime Stories”. If Jared Hess directed a script co-authored by David Lynch and John Waters, this is a pretty solid approximation of what I imagine you’d get. There’s a hodgepodge of humor, humanity, horror and outright “What the fuck am I watching?!” we’re left to rifle through which will no doubt leave a lot of people put off or pissed off. Deep down in its bowels, it has a charm all its own for those who will enjoy it. However, at the same time it comes off as a deliberate endeavor to manufacture the next big midnight movie. The problem with such an undertaking is that movies aren’t made to be cult classics, they’re chosen. It’s comparable to issuing your own nickname or giving yourself a “World’s Greatest Tubthumper” mug: you just don’t do it!
Sound snobbish? Look at Plan 9 from Outer Space or The Room. Both are movies that were made with genuine efforts and affection, helmed by misguided gents who thought they were making masterpieces. These were movies that no one genuinely liked, they were only enjoyed ironically (something that used to be fun before hipsters ruined it for the rest of us) because they were so awful that they were amazing! If it’s something you and your amigos can vet by riffing the shit out of it like refugees from the Satellite of Love? If it’s the type of movie that qualifies for Deep 13 certification? That is how a cult movie is christened – with the waters of mockery. The Greasy Strangler? It’s unriffable. It’s a movie that wants you to make fun of it, but it’s too easy. There’s no challenge. It’s made to be bad, and that’s not good. It winks so much at the audience that you ask it 20 minutes in if it needs a hit off of your Visine®!
Making jokes at the expense of its visually jarring cast and their clothing that looks like it was fished from, not a Salvation Army, but the dumpster behind a Salvation Army, is tantamount to calling an obese person “fat” or an acne-riddled person “pizza face” or Hi-C Hitler “too mentally incapable to be trusted with chewing his own food, let alone being president”. It’s lazy. It’s the easy way out. It’s what the intended object of ridicule wants you to do so they can C.D. Bales your sorry ass in front of Daryl Hannah! It reminds of my least favorite RiffTrax – Birdemic; a movie so obviously made to be terrible that it’s barely worth making fun of. Lo and behold, the ‘Traxers themselves just released the writer-director-masochist’s latest repugnant rectal release through their own website! Maybe I’m just an asshole…no…I’m definitely an asshole. Nevertheless, count me out.
Where the hell was I driving this bus before taking a detour down Route “Ignore the Rambling Jackal-Headed Old Man”? Oh right, I was evaluating today’s feature. The direction and cinematography are unexpectedly…good. Going solely on its premise, I had prepared my peepers for a parade the likes of a herky-jerky Troma turkey. It happened to me when I first watched The Human Centipede and I was caught just as unawares here. Upon my mandatory second screening, I only enhanced my appreciation, so kudos to Mr. Hosking in that regard. The dialogue is heavily seasoned with quotable lines for fellow fiends to banter back and forth in verbal volleyball, most notably the running accusations between Ronnie and Brayden of each being a “bullshit artist”. I’d bet my collection of West Nile infected mosquitoes that those two words make up no less than 10% of the dialogue between them. I was okay with it (sometimes even entertained by it), but if you’re the type of person who’s not keen on scripts packed with premeditated quotables, prepare to be irked.
The premise of the movie loses steam right around the 50 minute mark (just about the point where the Strangler investigation picks up, strangely enough), but the introduction of the aforementioned Jodie to the proceedings was just the defibrillator that my dwindling interest needed to guide me the rest of the way to the credits and the end of the tunnel. One aspect that didn’t need a jolt in the jimmies for me was the soundtrack. We’re given a mish-mash of delightful tunes and noises that reminded me of the music you’d hear on off-brand NES cartridges half of the time, and just plain charming boondoggle tunes that you imagine a grown up Gene Belcher composing while ‘shrooming alone in his college dorm room on any given Friday night. My praise aside, I have no plans to pick up said soundtrack. I can’t enjoy it on its own, like I would with a Tarantino movie or TMNT II: the Secret of the Ooze. Greasy and its music exist in a symbiotic relationship from which neither can be removed, lest they both die on their own. If the Plover isn’t allowed to eat the crocodile’s scraps from its mouth, the Plover will starve and the crocodile will…get Gingivitis? I dunno. As Thoth once drunkenly slurred to me over a plate of seafood nachos at ChiChi’s, “Neither a zoologist nor a dentist be”.
As for the special effects, they’re solid. There are several instances of popped eyeballs that actually were quite impressive! My compliments to the digital effects team on that. Not so much for their “people being shot” bit, but even big money movies rarely manage to pull that one off without traditional squibs, so it’s not a big deal.
As much as I hate people using the term “revelation”, I’m going to endure some self-inflicted shame and say it now: Michael St. Michaels is a revelation. The best takeaway from The Greasy Strangler is Big Ronnie. Not just because of the lines he’s given, but the way this amazing man delivers them. His rantings remind me a bit of Raleigh Theodore Sakers’ soliloquies off of the Robbin’ the Hood album. Physically, MSM looks like a demented troll, which in and of itself contributes to the actor’s unique appeal, but the little vocal affects he applies to his words are fucking enchanting! He tells a dirty story with a silky growl of aplomb that puts a reading of Wordsworth’s Greatest Hits to shame. I don’t remember a damn thing about the man from his role in The Video Dead (which isn’t surprising since I remember almost nothing from it, having not seen it since high school), but by the bearded clam of Cleopatra did he make Big Ronnie his own. Sublime, you crazy old bastard. Sublime.
Oh yeah, speaking of genital manes, be prepared for a LOT of prosthetic peckers being prominently portrayed. And old man asses. Merkins too. Or, as I like to call them, “pubic zirconium”. So, if the sight of sagging white butt cheeks or weirdly shaped dicks ensconced in gnarled overgrowth gets your gross out gland activated, either skip this ride or bring your barf bag.
In closing, despite my apparent praise for the flick, I’m giving The Greasy Strangler a middling recommendation. A solitary viewing was enough for me, and the only real reason I would go back to it is to show it to others. Beyond that, I don’t really feel the need to sit through it again. Should you take this to heart and seek to experience the greasiness and strangling for yourself, allow this next piece of wisdom to guide you – as I told my Evil Dead Bride/Editor/Valentine while we watched it, don’t question anything in this movie because there are no answers. Trying to understand the gaping maw of chaos will only lead to an eternal void of madness for the mind.
With that, I bid you all adieu. Check out Ragnarok’s review for Oasis of the Dead by clicking this link right here (or the banner image up near the top), then be sure to get your cracks back here for our next episode. Till then, may all of your V-Days be endurable and your VDs be curable!
Hey! It’s the same house where the Lubbocks were murdered by that family of cannibals in the series finale of ”Just the Ten of Us’!
“And this door – where does it lead? Is anyone behind it? Maybe someone famous? Sadly, we’ll never know, as I lost the keys sometime ago and locksmiths are bullshit artists. Any questions? Keep in mind we’ve already explained that our outfits and entirely medical in nature and we won’t explain the matter further.”
Looking for an affordable actor to play an old woman, a van driving child abductor, or the Herman Stiles in your much-needed ‘Evening Shade’ reboot? Here’s your man!
And that, boys and girls, is why you don’t eat an entire bag of Sour Patch Kids in one mouthful.
“Check it out – my sweater matches this little breadstick! Speaking of little breadsticks, before we go any further with this date, I was wondering what your opinion on ‘sounding’ is…”
Despite his insistence that no one’s better at “the economy” than he, donald drumpf’s stimulus plan of flooding the market with his new “Trump Buck$” ultimately lead to a global depression.
Go behind the scenes with legendary actor Paul Giamatti as he prepares to star and direct in his next Emmy Award Winner-to-be this Sunday on ‘HBO First Look: Animal Farm’.
Alternate universe Andy Warhol celebrates his 105th birthday by reflecting on his fall into obscurity and rather boring post-celebrity life tomorrow night in an interview with Peabody Award winning journalist Chevy Chase on ’60 Minutes’.
“I’m sorry, I don’t know anyone named ‘Prince Albert’, nor anyone of regal birthright for that matter. Goodbye.”
Aw, poor guy just got his rejection letter from Disney about his script for Tron 3: the Dark Coder. I felt the same way when they refused my own scripts for Condorman Begins and The Black Cauldron Part 2 – Gurgi and the Cursed City of Gold .
Uh-oh, looks like Fido didn’t take to his new “All Vegan Tapioca and Creamed Corn Feast” canned food.
“Do you happen to have a pair of nail-clippers I could use? I lost mine in ’98 and just can’t bring myself to buy another pair, knowing that my old ones will just magically show up the moment I do. I would feel like such an idiot.”
Curly Sue’s later years weren’t really much to talk about. She tried to get a reality show off the ground, but after 75 different stations turned down the pilot, she gave up. She works as a Time-Life operator in Branson Missouri now.
Upset that the government is too busy concerning themselves with the Mexico border to address the true source of dangerous illegal immigrants, the Sons of North Dakota militia group take it upon themselves to protect their border from nefarious northerners… of which they’ve seen none.
Anubis will return next time in
“The Man Who Laughs (and Kills)”
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All materials found within this review are the intellectual properties and opinions of the original writer. The Tomb of Anubis claims no responsibility for the views expressed in this review, but we do lay a copyright claim on it beeyotch, so don’t steal from this shit or we’ll have to go all Farmer Vincent on your silly asses. © October 1st 2013 and beyond, not to be reproduced in any way without the express written consent of the reviewer and The Tomb of Anubis, or pain of a physical and legal nature will follow. Touch not lest ye be touched.
Featuring: 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
Also Known As: The Crawl Space
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?!
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!
“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?
Anubis will return next time in
“The West Wing: Japan”
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All materials found within this review are the intellectual properties and opinions of the original writer. The Tomb of Anubis claims no responsibility for the views expressed in this review, but we do lay a copyright claim on it beeyotch, so don’t steal from this shit or we’ll have to go all Farmer Vincent on your silly asses. © October 1st 2013 and beyond, not to be reproduced in any way without the express written consent of the reviewer and The Tomb of Anubis, or pain of a physical and legal nature will follow. Touch not lest ye be touched.
Featuring: Ángel “Street Knight” Vargas , Vera “Stigmata” Yell , Lee “Once played an uncredited drug dealer on an episode of ‘The Young and the Restless‘” Marks
Director: Craig “Dead South” Ross Jr.
Writers: Carl “Urban Massacre” Washington
Followed by: Killjoy 2: Deliverance From Evil ; Killjoy 3 ; Killjoy Goes to Hell ; Killjoy’s Psycho Circus
A glorious day to you, my heathens and sheathens! It’s me, it’s me, your A-N-U-B… I-S. Always rousing suspicions and arousing suspicious women! From Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man to House of Frankenstein to Frankenstein Vs. Baragon, everybody loves a crossover. Tapping into that vein for so much of its delicious delicious blood, I bring you the “Turkey Day Month Casually Mingles with the Year of the Painted Horrors” pairing you never knew you wanted (because you probably won’t) – Killjoy!
And boy does it fucking ever. I haven't seen a movie so forthcoming with its titular content since New York City Lesbian Gangbang.
Fun fact: I once couch crashed for a week in the Brooklyn apartment of Maria DaMaris, one of the titular participants of said location specific “no Y chromosomes allowed” flesh exchange. It’s true! Also, despite my emphasis of the “tit” in “titular”, Maria’s major physical asset is her posterior, even after her breasticular supplementation procedure. Also also, I was there as a regular guest, not as a sexy guest. Also also also, I may or may not have masturbated repeatedly in her shower…
Remember back at the turn of the century, when Charles Band tried to re-ignite the Blaxploitation subgenre in the late-90s/early-00s with his Alchemy Entertainment/Big City Pictures “urban horror” label? Whether it was a note of romantic intent to the ’70s milestone of cinematic screwiness or just a cheap marketing attempt to convince black and “pale skinned appropriators of urban African-American culture” (you know, “whiggers”) audiences to buy into his bullshit, it happened either way. The tent poles of this inner-city circus were The Horrible Doctor Bones, Ragdoll, and the face-painted farce of fear from today’s feature. Given that we never got Ragdoll Vs. Dollman or the much hoped for prequel Doctor Bones: the College Years, while Killjoy would see the light of DVD again and again in no less than a trio of sequels, the Dollar Embargo Pennywise knock-off was the sole survivor of the label’s purge. His adventures culminated with 2012’s Killjoy Goes to Hell, but unlike a certain masked menace who did the same 15 years prior, this monstrous mischief maker has yet to find his way back.
Oh wait, scratch that. It looks like Chuck Band has summoned his jugular juggling jester back from the lake of fire for the recently released Killjoy’s Psycho Circus. Fuck me.
Speaking of getting fucked, I’m reviewing my physical copy of this movie, which is included on a single disc with both the second and third such flicks that were available at the time. The main menu of the trilogy has no extras or options, simply offering the ability to select each movie individually, or to “Play All”… Who THE FUCK marathons the first three Killjoy movies?! This isn’t the original Star Wars or Indiana Jones trilogies! Fuck’s sake, my juice is dried up by the finish of the first film, let alone would I ever have enough left over to even attempt another 3 hours of half-baked harlequin horrors after the fact! Speaking of juices, let’s squeeze this rancid orange (I’m sorry, president rancid orange) for all its worth and hope we don’t get any in our eyes. Sally forth!
In case you weren’t aware that Killjoy was shot almost 20 years ago, it’s made very apparent from the start as our two allegedly high school age female leads, Monique (Dee Dee Austin) and Jada (Vera Yell), exchange dialogue likes extras out of “Martin”. The Martin Lawrence comedy, not the George Romero “vampire who’s not a vampire” movie, in case I needed to be clear. Their deep conversation on the ethical quandary of “using a boy for his phat ride because you’re tired of walking home from school” is interrupted by nice guy Michael (Jamal Grimes), who’s got a heart-on for Jada, despite Monique’s clear disgust of him and, well, pretty much any guy who doesn’t offer to drive her around in their Mustang convertible. Much as Jada opts to treat the lad like a human being, and may even have a little appreciation for his blatant affections for her, it’s made very clear that Mikey’s immediate future will be in a body bag if Jada’s boyfriend Lorenzo (the oil guy?) discovers the pair have been conversing. Despite all this, Mike still feels compelled to spit into the wind and asks Jada to their school homecoming dance. If you think this is the perfect place for this poor man’s Dulé Hill to get his Jansport kicked in and the Puma logo imprinted on his pancreas, you’d be a way better predictor than Nate Silver right now!
And if you don’t know who Dulé Hill is, I’ll do you a favor: he was the black guy on “Psyche”. Yeah, the one who looks kinda like he played Kenny/Bud on “The Cosby Show” in the ’80s, but didn’t. That’s Deon Richmond, who was in the 2011 Kevin Sorbo, Danny Trejo movie Poolboy: Drowning Out the Fury… Sorry, just trying to avoid talking about Killjoy. I’ll get back to swallowing this capsule of broken glass now.
Featuring all of the cinematic professionalism of an after-school special, our movie actually starts like one too! In true movie fashion, this is the scene that “hood thug stereotype that red states think all black people look and act like” Lorenzo (William Johnson) and his cronies T-Bone (Corey Hampton) and Baby Boy (Rani Goulant) roll up upon. Mikey receives the beating alluded to previously, courtesy of the “even more of a hood thug stereotype than his boss” T-Bone, as Jada screams in protest. Though seemingly vicious in execution, NY Strip’s assault doesn’t draw an ounce of blood (probably no room in the budget), while the most vicious blow is made instead by ‘Zo, who steps on Piggy’s specs and tells him not to be caught “slippin”. Getting up with relative ease despite his back being the stage for Porterhouse’s stomp dancing (maybe the bully was wearing Pumps, so it was like being stomped with little hemorrhoid donuts?), Michael shoots some pretty harsh stink-eye at a nearby homeless man who offered no help during the incident. Our hero (by default, I guess) then goes home and does what any victim of a tragic love triangle would do – attempt to summon a vengeful spirit named Killjoy by sitting in the center of a circle of his mom’s votive candles and angrily manhandling a clown doll!
No fucking attempt at explaining Mikey’s ritual is made, let alone where he learned such a practice, but the homemade voodoo ceremony is cut short when Tiny Male lures Mike out into the streets under the guise of regretting the earlier fracas and wanting to be friends. Anyone who falls for something that stupid deserves to be beaten up by a guy named after a cut of meat, Mikey, so you’ve only got yourself to blame when the goons kidnap your naive ass. They drive him out to a vacant lot (by way of a car rocking back and forth in front of a blank black back drop!), and getting a lead pacemaker “accidentally” shot into his chest. Well, a bit of a downer ending, but at least the movie’s over now, right? Let’s go home and have a piping hot mug of triple Swiss Miss with brandy!
Awww shit. I knew it was too good to be true. Instead we’re thrown a year into the future, where Jada has long since broken up with Lorenzo and is instead now being courted by another classmate, Jamal (Lee Marks). She still has unresolved feelings for ‘Enz (“What am I supposed to do? He took my virginity when I was with him!”), but Jamal tells her she needs to forget about him and start thinking about Michael… Wait, what?! Why should she be thinking about the would-be boyfriend her ex killed? Shouldn’t she be thinking about herself? Just ’cause you’re black doesn’t make you Montel Williams, man. Stick to the Easy Cheese pick-up lines and lookin’ pretty, leave the self-help shit to the professionals.
Elsewhere from all this woo pitching, Lorenzo, Newborn Male and Sirloin are still in their west coast ménage à trois, trying to freestyle about weed and passing blunts between their shifts at wherever the hell it is they make their money. Let’s say Good Burger. Anyway, as soon as Lorie kisses his homies goodbye so he can engage in a little bump and grind with whatever girl he’s currently staining sheets with, Infant and Rib Eye are lured out of their domicile by the siren song of a passing ice cream truck. Looking to indulge their munchies, the lads engage the truck’s owner, who proclaims himself an undercover drug dealer selling his product under the disguise of an ice cream shilling clown. Of course this painted pusher is actually the mirth spreading murderer of our title, and when he invites the pair into his parlor (well, his truck), they’re magically transported to Killjoy’s private pocket universe: a warehouse covered in shitty graffiti. Yep. No three-ring carnival of carnage, just an abandoned building. Once there, naturally the duo are done in, with Flank being “smoked” like a blunt and Kiddo being… hit by a truck? Okay, Tenderloin’s dollar store Freddy Krueger demise is expected, but dragging a guy all the way to your own little death dimension just to hit him with a truck?! That shit’s whack like Rob Ford’s crack!
Oh well. Adieu, T-Bone. You were too well marbled for this world.
Lorenz falls for the same gag sooner than later (as in the very next scene), attempts to unload 21 rounds from his magical movie REVOLVER into joy boy, then ends up holier than a Swiss cheese sex doll when Killy straight up steals Weird Al’s Rambo gimmick from UHF by making with an oral machine gun and spitting Zo’s bullets back at him, rapid fire. Well, technically there are NO holes in Lorenzo, because this minuscule effects budget couldn’t cover squibs, so instead he just has little bursts of red digital splatter flash over his torso for a few seconds, leaving behind NO holes and NO blood! You can see why it’s one of my “Top 25 Hemorrhage Inducing Movie Moments of All Time”… a list that doesn’t actually exist, but probably should.
Though infuriating, this scene brings with it the movie's solitary redeeming moment (aside from its 65 minute running time) – watching Lorenzo's new girlfriend Kahara (Napiera Groves) engage in a gratuitous shower scene. I know it's an all too common device that I've complained about in the past, but in such a white dominated genre, you just don't get to see a whole lot of brown-skinned beauties in that classic exploitation position so, well, I really appreciate it when it happens. Reminds me of my high school days when porn wasn’t available at the
clit click of a touchscreen. Pardon me while I get “nostalgic” for a minute or two…
Ahhhh. I feel two quarts lighter! Back to business (or “biznaas”), Jada gets a midnight call from Monique of much urgency. In fact, it’s of such urgency that Foreigner would proclaim it an urgent urgent emergency. So urgent, so urgent, just wait and see. Remember that ineffective hobo (Arthur Burghardt) that sat idly by and watched a certain refugee from a butcher block scuff test his new kicks on Mike’s torso the year prior? Well, on the anniversary of the love-lorned loser’s loss of life that same nameless squatter, possibly while hopped up on Viper (+25 movie nerd points to anyone who knows that reference without Googling it!), has sought out the girls to recap everything from the first act to burn off another 5 minutes. For reasons he never explains, the “not nearly filthy enough to be a believable homeless guy” knows that Killjoy operates on CPT (Clown People Time) and has just now answered Michael’s call for revenge, 365 days late. Having offed Lorie and the Hoods though, shit should be all peaches and plums, right? Well, no. Turns out that Killjoy wants to ply his namesake to Monique and Jada too, while Jamal’s just a bonus, I guess. What did the girls do to deserve such treatment? Never underestimate the blind anger of a nerd scorned.
Pro-tip, ladies and gents: just because someone isn’t romantically interested in you doesn’t mean they’re evil. In fact, you’re the more than likely the only one who’s an a-hole, for holding it against them when they reject you. Trust me. Don’t set yourself up for the same regrets I did. Movies and TV and books and songs lie to you – there’s no such thing as someone you were “destined” to be with, and it sure as shit isn’t their fault or yours if they don’t have the same feelings for you that you have for them. Forget about ’em and keep looking elsewhere. Hell, stop looking for love and that little prick Cupid’s arrow might just pop you in the back when you’re not expecting it! Worked for me and EDB, just might work for you too. Now enough of the touchy-feely tripe! I’m not Dr. Drew and this sure as shit ain’t “Loveline”!
So, the old man disappears in a puff of smoke (maybe he has a stick of chronic burning in his jacket pocket?) and our trio of young African-Americans pretending to be even younger African-Americans opt to take the initiative and confront Clown Boy head-on (“Apply directly to the forehead!”), climbing into the back of his seemingly abandoned truck, parked conveniently right out front where the old man said it would be. Wow, so these kids are ready to attack welfare Pennywise (who’s yet to approach either of them and may not even have beef to resolve), all on the word of a random vagrant whose validity is due solely to his knowing their names and disappearing in a cloud of smoke like David Copperfield or Batman? These guys would probably follow David Blaine across an ocean of molten magma!
As soon as the three materialize in Killie’s murder warehouse (why everyone who goes to this place does so by landing on the floor in some kind of Power Rangers pose, I couldn’t tell you to save my fucking life), Jamal starts up with some Scooby-Doo “We need to split up!” nonsense that the girls aren’t having. Jammy-Jams even flubs one of his lines, but director Ross keeps it in anyway! Bravo, sir. John Singleton you’re not.
With repeated utterances of “We got to!”, Jamal pushes his insistence that splitting up is the only option and wanders off alone, leaving the ladies to their paired fate. In reality, I'm guessing this has to do at least partially, with the fact that there are three of them and only two doorways on the set for Bozo von Chucklefuck’s Haunted World of Spooky Black-on-Black Crimes. This lasts every second of about 2 minutes before the three are reunited, scared back together by Killjoy who…doesn’t really do much to bother them beyond his bad laugh, worse lines and some Tim Burton Joker-ish gag where he offers Jamal a literal hand. You know, cuz it’s a hand…and he offered him a hand…because it’s a severed hand…and Jamal thought he was just offering him a figurative hand…but it was literal… because…it’s…a…hand… Anybody wanna go in halfsies on a gun rental and a pair of bullets? I’m really not feeling much for this whole “not being dead” gimmick lately.
Our heroic trio are then forced to fight off illusory dopplegangers of ‘Zo +2, not because Jada needed to evolve as a character by physically exorcising her residual emotional attachment to her ex (she squares off with Steak ‘Ems instead), but because her new boyfriend just needed to kick her old boyfriend’s phantom ass to prove he’s better than a ghost. And he does, thanks to a ninja sword that he recovers from a tipped over box, because I guess Killjoy’s warehouse services those Chinatown outlet stores that sell decorative weapons to wanna-be Bruce Lees for less than a tenner. Right next to the polyester kimonos and the plaster dragons painted to look like they’re made of jade. Speaking of jade, Jada also benefits from said stock as Mo’ passes her a comically theatrical battle ax to fend off Ghost Beef. Because Charles Band’s props department is made up mostly of day-after-Halloween purchases he made from Big Lots. I had to fight him over a battery-operated wolf skeleton this year! It was weird too, cuz the damn thing still had ears somehow despite being a skeleton. I let him keep it. I’ll have to think of something else to get my sister for Cthulhumas this year.
Pastrami is shown that, despite his claims, being dead doesn’t mean he can’t be killed (or in this case, decapitated by Jada), while Jamal struggles with undead Toddler, attempting to gouge out the vato’s oculars only to miss completely and gently massage his eyebrows instead. Fortunately for our hero, it seems the brow ridge is just the weakpoint the exorcist ordered, as said light caress causes the baddie to leak green smoke from his eyes, cry out in pain, dissolve into a cloud of eyesore particle effects, and make that weird zapping sound you always heard from the Tesla Coils in a b-movie mad scientist’s lab.
‘Joy reappears, dispatching Jam and Monique with ease, then corners Jada and asks for a kiss. She complies, but only if he leaves their world forever. The capering antagonist could’ve easily pulled the lawyer card and instead forced her to stay in his world forever, citing unclear wording, but instead just does the dickhead thing and refuses to honor their agreement, just because. He then reveals himself to be Michael, who delivers a monologue about how unfair it was to be bullied by everyone when he just wanted some friends. Jada offers to be his friend, but he wants her to be his girlfriend, not his friend that’s a girl. She clearly wants to tell him she doesn’t like him “that way”, but hesitantly says yes instead, only to knife him in the guts a few dozen times when he gets aggressively huggy. Nothing to do with her station in life or where she comes from, but I’m guessing Jada did a stretch up the river at some point because she shivs that boy like a woman who’s seen some shit (or done some shit) in a prison lunch line before! This Dorothy’s been to Oz, and I’m not talking ruby slippers and flying monkey bellboys!
If you thought everything sounded stupid up to this point, you’ve only dipped a toe in the stupidity quicksand. Now, after murdered Mikey fades away, Jada collects Jamal and Monique and the three stroll out of the warehouse like everything’s hunky-dory. It’s not, of course, because we’re only 55 minutes into this little-over-an-hour mire. As I was saying, they walk out of the warehouse (which is just a warehouse now and not a parallel dimension?) and find the Killjoy Mobile parked across the street. You-dread-who pops up AGAIN with his three lackeys still in tow and proclaims that he can’t be killed in his world. You mean exactly like Freddy Krueger had to be brought into our reality to be killed? Right. But, I’m presuming that they’re all in our reality right now, right? Or are they still in his world?! I’m shit out of theories on this one, and hold your ponies lads and lasses cuz it only makes less fucking sense in a minute!
The good guys hear the homeless guy Obi-Waning in their heads and telling them they need to “kill the doll” (rather than “use the Force”), which they make it a point to vocalize out loud, cuing Kony the Clown in on their plan. He gets pissed and tries to chase them down, but they escape into the back of his ice cream truck, because it looks like all you need to do to get out of his trap dimension really is just walk out of its front door! And this time, rather than being thrown back into the warehouse-between-worlds, the magic fool bus instead transports them to…Michael’s old apartment?! How the fuck does this work!? What the FUCK was going on in your head when you wrote this, Mr. Washington?! I feel my brain being spaghettified right through my eyeballs by the black hole this movie’s collapsed reality is creating! ARRRRRGH!
Before Jada can destroy the doll it turns into Michael, begging her (while she straddles him in Cowgirl position…awkward) not to kill him because everything he did was out of love for her. She hesitates, which is odd considering how savagely she pig stuck the guy not 10 minutes ago! Ultimately her killer instinct wins out again and she gets the chance to murder her admirer a second time. Mikey cries out in pain, reverts back into a toy, and some mystical earthquake sends the villains back through a vortex to whatever homeboy purgatory they’re stuck in now. Jamal warns the girls not to break the circle of votive candles (which aren’t lit anyway…) and they huddle together to hold hands, transported back to Monique’s place with no explanation as to why. Jedi Fred Sanford awaits them there too, only to dissolve sans any further dialogue. Without batting an eye, Jamal suggests that the three go out for a bite to eat and everybody learns to feel good about laughing again. No, seriously, they get all dressed up, sit in a nightclub, and talk about how great it is to laugh… Somebody actually got paid to write these lines!
To keep up with the knock-off A Nightmare On Martin Luther King Blvd bullshit, it turns out this ending is just a nightmare Jada’s having that ends with Killjoy showing up. She awakens screaming in bed next to a horny Jamal who figures the best way to cure his girl’s bad dreams is with a mouthful of beaver, and with a Vera Yell, she cried “MORE! MORE! MORE!”. See what I did there? But when he comes back up from spelunking the meat curtains beneath the sheets, care to guess who he’s turned into? Yep.
And they made
three four more of these fucking things?! There is no god.
I mean, there’s a lot of us, clearly, but there’s no god specifically for shitty movie prevention. I put in a dozen requests with H.R. (Human Resources, not Pufnstuf) and they just keep telling me that jars full of internal organs with “DO WHAT I SAY!” etched into them aren’t acceptable requisition forms. Friggin’ office politics.
And so goes the story of Killjoy, Carl Washington’s double rip-off of A Nightmare on Elm Street and It. A movie that can’t even follow the rules it makes up for itself as it goes along. A movie whose plot has more holes than Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur combined. A movie whose dialogue sounds like it was written by a mentally impaired 10 year old who just learned the term “good pussy”. A movie whose villain’s quips couldn’t even make a hyena hopped up on Nitrous Oxide and Red Bull crack a giggle. It’s sad too, because for the most part the cast isn’t horrible, they’re just playing one-dimensional characters and are bogged down further by the shit Washington filled their mouths with. Sick bastard.
Out of this cast of extras from a season of “The Wayans Bros.”, the only one who can’t blame the script for their piss poor performance is Lee Marks. Sure, he’s given some especially harsh lines, but his readings are wooden enough for Nick Offerman to carve a canoe out of. Either Marks didn’t get a chance to practice his lines and this flick was shot in the Roger Corman “one and done” style (which is very likely given some of the flubbed lines and bumbled camera work that were left in) or the guy was hired straight off the casting couch based on his looks, his lacking of acting be damned. Maybe he’s the ugly girl the others keep around to make themselves look hotter by comparison. Only… you know…the thespian version.
Batting 0-2, Killjoy‘s third strike comes at the hands of director Craig Ross, who is just as bad at his job as everyone else is at theirs. Wretched shot composition, miserable efforts to be creative by shooting from a low “pendulum” angle that even first semester film school students wouldn’t waste their time on. The gratingly stupid Superman landing that he has everybody do when they “jump” into Laughing Boy’s urban squalor Purgatory! It all flies as well as Thoth after a 40 oz. of Olde Egyptian 800 BC. That is one man-bird that cannot hold his liquor, malted or otherwise.
To finish out the bingo card, Killjoy‘s soundtrack, cinematography and editing are also dumpster refuse. Specifically that dumpster Willennium Smith kicks open in Men in Black that vomits cockroaches all over the ground. The only thing it’s consistent at is being terrible. Reminds me of the first time a girl went down on me, only with less teeth. If I were to best sum up my feelings for this incompetently cobbled together “Frankenstein’s monster if he were assembled from large pieces of putrid deli meat” via the medium of referential humor to a scene from a culturally relevant comedy movie released in the last 15 years (oddly specific criteria, sure, but just go with it), it would be the Sex Panther fallout scene from Anchorman where an office full of Paul Rudd’s co-workers are driven to odorous agony by his bio-hazardous, nostril napalm cologne. Remember “SMELLS LIKE BIGFOOT’S DICK!”? That was me by the time the end credits hit.
In the spirit of the season, Killjoy is such a gobbler that Turkey Volume Guessing Man gives it 3000 turkeys!
And if you don't get that joke, go back and watch the Riding with Death episode of “MST3K”. It’s magic. How magic? Remember that time Merlin turned his penis into a rainbow spewing dragon to have 6 month long tantric sex with Grendel’s mother so they could give birth to Electric Light Orchestra and raise them to write and perform “Oh Oh Oh It’s Magic”? That episode is MORE magical. 2 Legit.
With that, I leave you to your dinners of mass consumption, my friends and fiends. You know, if USA Thanksgiving is your thing. I’ll be back after the Great Binge for at least one more course of Turkey Day Month before the upcoming glut of end-of-the-year holiday themed nonsense waiting to come crashing down my chimney. No peeking, you pricks, or Anubis Claus will have to hollow out your eye sockets with a hot fire poker!
And ladies, here’s one for you: don’t ask your man job interview questions post-coitus. He doesn’t wanna hear any of that “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” crap after getting his kumquats juiced.
“Big City Pictures”? Maybe in about as much as Provo, Utah is technically a big city too, sure.
“You paid how much for this fencing, girl!? I told you, my cousin Shaun is the chain link KING! Tell him we’re friends and he’ll hook you UP!”
“I believe I can FLYYYYYYY! I believe I can touch the SKYYYYYY!”
Hey geniuses, you forget to turn on the rear projector for the driving scene! I’d call you the modern day Notorious B.I.G. (Burt I. Gordon), but you couldn’t even get that right!
“You’re right Lorenzo, there is something blocking your barrel. It looks like a… bullet? … Oh shit.”
His stage name should be Rhythm Method Man, cuz just looking at him is birth control. *rimshot*
Movie immersion breaker #262: Who the hell has sex with the bedspread around their waists like that?!
“Come on B, you gotta help me find my contacts! The insurance company’s gonna raise my rates if I tell ’em I lost another pair of lenses, son!”
I’d make fun of her for picking that robe up at Phyllis Diller’s yard sale, but she looks better in it than the guest star of Boneyard ever did.
“Ugggh. I gotta stop eating out of the dumpster behind that vegan place. Those vegetables and shit give me gas out both ends!”
Note to our readers: Just because you memorized the lyrics to every track on “36 Chambers” and own every VHS in the Wu-Tang Collection reissue set doesn’t mean you’re qualified to swing the hardware!
“Hey kids! Remember krumping? Of course you don’t! No one does! Nor should they! We’re all better off without it!”
Looks like somebody didn’t learn their lesson from Richard Pryor’s example.
“There is a great disturbance in the Circus. We have a new enemy. The young rebel who destroyed our clown car. This boy is the offspring of PT Barnum. Search your feelings. You’ll know it to be true.”
Damn McDonald, your teeth are disgusting and your gums look infected! Time to lay off the Kools and Colt 45s, or the suits upstairs are gonna make McCheese the new face of the franchise!
Anubis will return next time in
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All materials found within this review are the intellectual properties and opinions of the original writer. The Tomb of Anubis claims no responsibility for the views expressed in this review, but we do lay a copyright claim on it beeyotch, so don’t steal from this shit or we’ll have to go all Farmer Vincent on your silly asses. © October 1st 2013 and beyond, not to be reproduced in any way without the express written consent of the reviewer and The Tomb of Anubis, or pain of a physical and legal nature will follow. Touch not lest ye be touched.
Featuring: Johnny “’Palisades Justice‘” Diaz , Christina “The Treehouse” Licciardi , Nick “Laid to Rest” Principe
Director & Writer: Jeremy “Avengers Grimm” Inman
Sequel to: Avengers Grimm
The summer trudge through the bodily secretion trail of tears has still not let up, but I’ll spare you the trial of enduring a third diatribe where I bitch about the heat. I will say this though – you could bottle my underarm perspiration and weaponize it as an environmentally friendly alternative to mustard gas. That, or sell it as a Designer Impostors for Burger King onion rings. Speaking of heat, I’m convinced that my microwave is haunted by popcorn hating ghosts. Whether it’s Colonel’s Kernels, The Buck-an-Ear Buccaneer, or Maze of Maize, every time I try to nuke a bag of black lung inducing goodness the damn things come out scorched worse than Freddy Krueger at a Pyromaniacs For Snuffing Out Child Abuse fundraiser! Speaking of things that hate other things, I clearly hate myself more than Michael Bay hates ’80s pop culture, because here I am once again (by choice!) back within the padded walls of The Asylum. Those dickardly dingleberries who frequently infect the world with the worst knockbusters (knock-offs of blockbusters) this side of E.T. Eddie Torres the Extra-Testicle.
I could just be like everybody and their second cousin reviewing the first season of “Stranger Things” right now (It’s great, but I’m still disappointed that my theory on the Demogorgon becoming Slenderman at the end was wrong), but here I am bitching about The Asylum again like it’s the fucking running joke of my amateur movie griping career. Fuck it. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger… or just saddles us with PTSD until we drive all of our friends away and eventually David Carradine ourselves in the closet of a La Quinta Inn suite. I’ll never forgive you La Quinta motherfuckers for turning my old site address into a redirect for your homepage! May you all die of fatal rectal trauma via forced bowling ball insertion.
Not to be confused with Monster Squad, SuperHero Squad, Gangster Squad, “Mod Squad”, “Odd Squad”, “God Squad”, the other God Squad (there’s an obscure one for you Marvel readers!), Squadron Sinister, nor a group of willennials who get together every Saturday night to live-tweet viewings of the Sinister movies and do so under the hashtag “SinisterSquad”, what today’s movie is is The Asylum’s answer to the summer super-villain team-up blockbuster release, Suicide Squad. The Asy’ crew screws the Poochie on this one, and rather than combining a patchwork posse of the pantheon of half-assed knock-off villains they’ve populated their stupid little cinematic universe with, go for the easy way out and just toss together a group of public property fairytale fuckers instead. If Suicide Squad and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen pulled a bareback train on a Wiki of fairy tales and fables, this would be the bastard end product. Well, it works for “Grimm”, “Once Upon a Time” and “Sleepy Hollow” on TV, and it worked for 150 issues of DC’s “Fables” series (plus all of the spin-off stuff I’m sure as shit NOT counting out for the sake of completion in a review that nobody’s going to read anyway!), so why not?
‘Less Than Zero’ isn’t just a Bret Easton Ellis book I couldn’t bring myself to read more than the first 30 pages of, it’s also the amount of introductory exposition we’re given before being dropped face first into the fray that is our feature. Fortunately, this isn’t just a lazy round of Figure It Out for Yourself™ (by Parker Brothers!) and we’re filled in on the backstory as the frontstory progresses, but for the sake of simplicity I’ll give you a spoiler-free(ish) chimpan-A to chimpan-Z adaptation. RE-RE-RE-REMIIIIIIIX!
It all began in the magical dimension from which all fairy tales and fables originated. Call it Neverland, call it Grimm World, call it Dimension F (for “Fables”), call it whatever puts plums in your Christmas pie, Horner. Known by his peers as one of those guys who can get anything for the right price, infamous imp Rumpelstiltskin was hired by Death (yes, that Death) to acquire “the magic mirror” (presumably the one belonging to Snow White’s murderously jealous stepmom, Queen Grimhilde), which would allow the Reaper the ability to instant transmission his bony backside from The Underworld (a third realm all its own) to Earth and fulfill his despotic ambition to overtake our dimension. Death is sold to us as a Faustian figure (with Kung-Fu GRIP!), offering up earthly delights to his marks in exchange for their immortal souls being added to the Underworld census, so we can make an “ass” out of “u” and “me” that his realm is basically Hell… though we’re never given a Heaven-like counter-dimension to provide context, so I guess Underworld is where everybody goes when they die, whatever their moral alignment… so why would Death need to barter for souls if everybody winds up there sooner or later anyway?! Come on, Inman. You couldn’t take 5 minutes to slip in a reference to some manner of Nirvana to make more sense of this? Blart.
For no real reason beyond being a major asshole (like, “prolapsed colon” major), Rumpledforeskin broke the arcane artifact so Death couldn’t have it, shattering the barrier between their world and ours in the process. Now an undetermined population of these imaginary heroes and villains and ancillary personas exist in the world that gave us atomic weapons, Johnny Mnemonic, and The Baconator Triple. Turns out Rumpels is the type of guy who will huff or drink anything if there’s the possibility of it getting him a buzz, because that’s the only reason I can come up with for why he would’ve discovered that consuming ground up pieces of the mirror gives him the ability to control others with his voice… I guess if you’re gonna build a bad guy around Jared Leto’s “trailer park meth head Joker”, he’s gotta snort/smoke/shoot up something weird, right? Sure. Rumpy’s doing the half-baked Joker thing, but even if he had the chops to be the tops, the cartoon sound effects that accompany him are obnoxious. To be honest, I’m biased, as there will only ever be one true Rumpy for this jackal god. And as much as I man crush for Robert Carlyle, he’s not it…
On the topic of people who have experience with transdimensional reflective surfaces, Wonderland's Alice (last name withheld unless you consider Tim Burton's version canon, in which case it's Kingsleigh) also ended up on Earth, and has cobbled together a small organization of fellow refugees under the intention of wrangling up trouble makers and shipping them back home before they fuck anything else up. On her payroll are Goldilocks (that home invading hussy), Piper (the vermin charming, mass abductor of children), Hatter (a harmless weirdo celebrating eternal tea time), and the Tweedle twins Dum and
Dummer Dee (goodhearted scaredy ‘tards). In this version, Goldie is a bad-ass bombshell with twin handguns (and pigtails so she’ll resemble cinematic Harley Quinn), Piper is “generic good looking, wise-cracking hero guy”, Hatter is a psychotropic dropping rave DJ, and the Tweedles are half-wits dressed in some type of off-brand steampunk Super Mario Bros outfits (battery operated mustaches not included). Not exactly the Avengers, it’s no wonder our knock-off Nick Fury turns knock-off Amanda Waller, deciding it would be a good idea to bolster her skeleton crew of do-gooders with a supplemental add-on of ne’er-do-wells.
Rumpy’s captured and enlisted under the threat of an exploding wristwatch Alice binds him with. That and he can only outsmart Death so long, so he’s better off making some allies. In turn, he’s tasked with convincing his ex-girlfriend Gelda (Wonderland’s Queen of Hearts, now a sexy black lady decked out like a speakeasy flapper girl) to also join the gang, and her job is to use her apparent power of man control to pacify the murderous Bluebeard (who likes feeding women to his magical knives) into helping out too. The Big Bad Wolf is also there, playing the “monster with a heart of gold” role, going along because he’s got a gnarly knot over Goldie. Yeah, he’s basically just Marv from Sin City with bad dental work, right down to the same-name romantic interest. If they weren’t just ripping off Bigbie from “Fable”, I’d say they should’ve made this character the Beast, as in “Beauty and the”. There isn’t enough money in the effects budget to go full beast mode when it comes time for his inevitable lupine fiasco, so just call him a man-beast and leave it, Butt Fuchs.
Last on Alice's enlistment checklist is Carabosse, a savage, cannibalistic witch. Now, this one I had to do a little research on. Who I first thought was meant to be the child-eating witch with the gingerbread house who was burned alive by a little German kid, instead turns out to be the pissed off fairy-godmother from a 1600s “Sleeping Beauty” knock-off called “The Princess Mayblossom”! Very cheeky of you, Mr. Inman, putting a knock-off character into your knock-off movie! I appreciate the wink wink AND you forced me to learn something new today. Bravo, sir.
However, Carrie turns out to be a really bad draft pick on Alice's part when it's revealed that the razor-toothed wicked witch has a waterslide between her thighs when it comes to the only guarantee in life that doesn't include filling out forms and paying protection money to the government. Yep, more than a mere admirer, the sorceress is a straight up acolyte for The Pale Rider and probably bones herself with a femur while watching Faces of Death before bed. The best part about Witchy-Poo’s infatuation? Every time she wants a word with her would-be squeeze, she kills one of his messengers so he’ll inhabit their body. This diminishing of the Dead One’s numbers doesn’t piss him off so much as it just really irritates him.
It comes as no surprise that Carabosse’s loyalty to the antagonist escalates the plot past the “gather the group” stage, as Grim’s goons (dressed in generic “urban ninja militants” motif) infiltrate Alice’s base, where we spend the rest of the flick watching the good guys and good-bad guys try to figure out the Reaper’s endgame and put a stop to it before he kills them all and takes over Earth. As with any quorum of villains and monsters though, the real enemy is themselves, so it’s not a question of WILL everything go to shit, but how long will it take. Betrayal is inevitable. Such is life.
Being saddled with the typical bargain basement budget of an Asylum showing, it’s no “Shocker” (a movie I love, by the way) that the entirety of Squad takes place in and around an abandoned factory/warehouse/hobo hotel. At least it’s better than crap like Rise of the Zombies, where we’re shown a shot of a famous landmark (like the Golden Gate Bridge) and are hoodwinked with sound stage green screen sewage that makes The Room‘s rooftop scenes look like Hollywood magic. Also lacking any surprise factor for our flick is the previously expounded upon uniformity of Death’s goons’ attire. The fact that their faces are covered with hoods and face scarves makes it really easy for the same 5 or 6 extras to be killed without having to cut any additional checks. Hell, I’d bet dollars to dental appliances (of which this movie has several) that some members of the main cast earned an extra $20 and/or free sandwich coupon for Subway by pulling double duty. Speaking of, let’s discuss who earned their five dollar footlong, and who should go back to Tinsel Town Terry’s Back Alley Acting Academy.
Christina Licciardi was probably my favorite on this one. She plays Alice with just enough strength mixed with panic mixed with insecurity mixed with determination to make the whole thing work. Alice does what she has to to get the job done, and shows she’s not averse to getting some red on her . Her time on the other side of the looking glass has brought her a long way from where she was when she first fell down that rabbit hole, but hasn’t lost herself completely, and Licciardi pulls that off. A surprisingly good get for an Asylum picture, and I commend whomever cast her. Here’s to hoping she doesn’t get swallowed up by the obscurity beast and spend the rest of her career in Monstro’s guts, roasting kelp with an old man and his creepy wooden sex homunculus.
Don’t gimme that “He was just a little wooden boy you disgusting pervert!” crap either. His fucking dick-shaped nose grew like a telescoping sex toy, so blame the Blue Fairy if you’re gonna get so offended about your beloved childhood figures being reduced to innuendos. Or just get out your Ouija and blame Corey Allen’s ghost.
Johnny Rey Diaz isn't horrible as Rumpy, but his dollar store rendition of Jared Leto’s juggalo Joker is less over-the-top fun and more off-of-a-cliff irritating, in that that’s where you want to push him when he spends too much time over-revving his annoyance engine directly in your face. This could be less Diaz’s fault and more Inman’s, a la Chris Nolan being to blame for Christian Bale’s “choked on a rock salt dildo” Batman voice, so I won’t point fingers. I will point a thumb though, straight up, as JRD’s act grew on me when he turned down the kooky capering and it came time to take the trickster into more serious territory. Rump Roast was downright enjoyable by the end! And I’m a bitter old man who openly wishes death upon children at the mall!
In the interest of time, let’s make the rest of these quick. Lindsay Sawyer plays tough girl Goldilocks well enough without degenerating into a one-dimensional “bad-ass grrrl power!” caricature, and she looks great while doing it. Talia Davis (Gelda) is good as the selfish, spoiled Queen of Hearts, and doesn’t go Hawn & Russell (little Overboard joke for ya) with it. The flapper girl look works wonder(land)s for her too and turns me into a fapper boy. In the words of Inspector Gadget, “Yowzers”! Trae Ireland (Bluebeard) makes good enough “sinister sex criminal, literal ladykiller” faces to get his rapey-stabby persona across, but really doesn’t have much to do beyond that. I actually wouldn’t mind seeing him play Bluebeard in a full-length feature, but unless Warner Bros gives Suicide Squad member Slipknot (the role Bluey’s filling in for here) his own movie, I don’t see The Asylum bothering. Onto Isaac Reyes, he’s nothing special. Maybe’s it’s a case of being shafted with a barely interesting role (loser never even breaks out his magic flute), but pretty boy Piper was the plain oatmeal packet in this Quaker Oats variety box.
Fiona Rene was great as Carabosse, getting crazy and evil enough without vomiting ham everywhere. Visually she’s obviously a bite off of Suicide Squad villainess Enchantress, while her romantic obsession with Death takes directly from Harley’s abusive relationship with Mr. J, and I’m not mad about either. I mean in the angry way, not the “Mad About You” way, a show which makes me angry in a whole other way. I appreciate Rene’s physical and verbal evocation of the gutter witch for the most part, more so given the mondo oral obstruction she had to deal with while doing it! Speaking of dental nightmares that could put an Orthodontist’s kids through college, Joseph Harris is built well enough for his rip-off of Bigbie Wolf, but I’ll be damned if I gleamed even an ounce of the dude’s acting prowess. He spends the whole flick mumbling and growling from behind a bulldog level of artificial under bite. Sure, Karloff could convey a butt ton of emotion from behind full Frankenstein regalia, but it’s hardly fair to compare. As such, I’ll give The Big Bad Wolf a pass.
Nick Principe has a couple of decent comedy line deliveries as Death, but playing up the Reaper as a poor man’s Andrew Dice Clay doesn’t do anyone any favors, whether that’s Principe’s fault or Inman’s. Two talons down and a “Blart” for good measure. Finally, Aaron Moses gets in a decent moment or two of sympathy for the “big on heart but short on brains” twins (of which he plays both), while Randall Yarbrough (Hatter) just has to stand around being oblivious for half his screen time and sit around being ‘shroomed off his ass for the other half. So, Beavis bless his little glitter beard, but without the accompanying “madness” that we all associate with the tea swilling weirdo, his involvement is a lost cause at best and a waste of time at worst. Please collect your $300 headphones and see yourself out. Auf Wiedersehen.
With that done, let’s talk about sex, baby. By which I mean, let’s talk about writer-director Jeremy Inman. Saying that anything associated with The Asylum “shines” feels wrong, unless you’re dropping the always endearing proverb about the difficulties of putting a sheen on shit. As such, rather than saying Inman shines with Sinister Squad, allow me instead to praise him for vaulting well above the lowered bar I set for him and earning himself a gold medal! Unfortunately, in the ToA Olympics a gold medal is only the equivalent of a 3-out-of-5 (in order, both platinum and molybdenum rank higher), but for a movie that I was scooping up a pile of Ammut’s excrement for in preparation of condemnation, it’s still high praise! As of this episode, I’ve reviewed six other Asylum mistakes, and this model of mediocrity stands well above the majority of them! Most casual movie viewers will downright dislike it, for which I don’t blame them, but I may just end up liking Sinister Squad better than Suicide Squad if the bad news reviews I’ve heard are any indication!
Though the movie gives us a peek or two too many at its endgame, and the finale wraps things up a little too loosely, I actually found myself entertained. Maybe the heat’s finally scrambled my noggin like a dozen sidewalk eggs, but yes, I enjoyed the ending to an Asylum movie! A masterpiece by no stretch of a Tie Dang Gong student’s pecker, but it’s still a fun little movie that’s miles ahead of most Asylum brand caboose juice. By Charles Manson’s forehead swastika, will wonders never cease!? What I didn’t appreciate was the needless name drop at the end, as the group is literally referred to as Alice’s own little “Sinister Squad” (not to be confused with The Sinister Six, Mister Sinister, or The Sinister Minister), but that’s a jab at Will Smith’s equally bad selling of the title to his own team-up movie, so it’s understandable despite being aural barb wire dragged across my ear drums.
Before bringing this episode to its happy ending, for those wondering, the majority of the soundtrack is as bad as you’d fear it to be (but not bad enough to be good, like Ankle Biters‘ “3 Feet Tall”). It’s made up mostly of nothing special hip-hop and EDM generica, with some oddly appropriate old-timey ’50s teeny bopper soda jerk stuff thrown in for charm.
And with that, we tap out on another installment of The Tomb. It wasn’t until the majority of the work had already been done that I’d made the connection between this and Jeremy Inman’s prior work, Avengers Grimm. It seems to have a similar premise (only, as you’d presume, ripping-off Marvel’s The Avengers instead) and includes the tale of how Rumps (played then by Casper Van Dien) got his hands on the mirror and wrecked it in the first place, despite not being listed on IMDB as having a canonical connection between the pair. I intend on reviewing it for a future feature (I’ve got the next dozen or so reviews already laid out ahead of me), so with any luck Mr. Inman will continue to keep his spot on my good side and give me more praise to belt on about like Julie Andrews in the Austrian Alps after skiing with Scarface.
Peace be with you, my peoples. See ya next time!
In movie geekinese, that translates to “Enter at Your Own Rick”. Who’s Rick? You don’t wanna know.
That face you make when a crackhead offers to suck your dick for a fiver and you consider it… you know, because $5 is a really good price and you could probably just close your eyes and imagine Selena Gomez or something…
Keifer Sutherland takes a hard look at his life choices after another Christmas party ends with tequila on his breath and an innocent conifer’s sap on his hands
This scene is from the director’s “blue” period.
*mumble*mumble*mumble*mumble* (“Anybody wanna see me do a magic trick? I’ll make a pencil disappear! You know, like that scene… in that movie… with… that gay cowboy guy… Anyone?”)
Her father was the Flukeman and her mother was a piranha. Her conception was enough to give Dagon nightmares! The ironic part? She can chew through even the toughest of steaks, but she can’t digest meat, so she’s a vegetarian. True story.
“How bad ass are these, right?! I’m an insomniac, so I purchase all of my home décor from those late night knife sale shows. These puppies were calling my Diner’s Club card like a sailor to the sirens!”
She’s modeling the keystone outfit of the Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen spring collection.
“Please forgive me, tt was a one-night mistake! I was drunk and alone and confused! Those CHUDs meant nothing to me! I love YOU!”
“Is this really worth risking our necks over, Goldie?”
“Have you ever eaten bear porridge, Piper? Have you?! If you had, you wouldn’t be asking that question.”
“You think you’ve hit rock bottom? Come see me when you wake up from your latest blackout with your face covered in dried faerie jizz, then you can tell me about ‘rock bottom’, Jack.”
Special guest star Cesar Romero as The White Rabbit… bobblehead
Anubis will return next time in
“Return of the Return to the Blue Galoot”
Featuring: Aaron “The Storm Riders” Kwok , Qi “Journey to the West” Shu, Collin “The Matrix Reloaded” Chou
Director: Benny “Gen X Cops” Chan
Writers: Benny “Gen X Cops” Chan & Chi-Man “Invisible Target” Ling
Origin: Hong Kong
All my life I’ve been searching for something
Something never comes never leads to nothing
Nothing satisfies but I’m getting close
Closer to the prize at the end of the rope…
The Tomb’s 3rd anniversary is October 1st. Three is the “novelty sneakers” anniversary. If someone doesn’t get me some of that groovy be-chinned footwear, all love is a lie and life is a pointless endeavor that goes on forever. Just so you know.
On to other matters, because of my many months away from The Tomb (let’s say due to a journey through alternate realities where I had to stop an evil version of myself from destroying all of existence by killing our other selves and absorbing their power to supplement his own) I’m taking a further break from the Tour de Farce so I can give higher priority to other movies that have crossed my desk since. And yes, it’s a literal desk, made of the finest polished femurs, spines, and rib bones of Rupert Murdock’s ancestors. Totally worth the hauntings.
To that end, I thought it prudent to finish this review (started in January) before putting the T de F back into its cryogenic freeze tube for a while longer. Today’s episode features the Hong Kong sing-a-long ring ding dong we call City Under Siege.
Expected a Dr. Dre reference? Nope. He’s banned from The Tomb for selling $300 headphones to stupid children with stupider parents. Anyway, before we get started, let’s mine the ancient secrets of the mystical island of Hong Kong!
On second thought, never mind. This review’s already 4 months late and my laptop is starting to give me third degree dick burns. I don’t have time to play tour guide. If you wanna know any esoteric facts about HK, its economy, its culture, its people, its impact on the rest of the world, or its dark history of horrendous crimes in the fields of drug trade and human trafficking (I’m presuming), pay your preferred search engine a visit. Let’s just get to the movie and cut to the chase…oh, I forgot to mention that a hefty portion of today’s movie revolves on an axis of knife throwing. That might have been pertinent info before making a pun like “cut”. My apologies.
Not to be confused with the Police Academy sequel (#6!) of the same name, City Under Siege is the tale of Li Fei (Aaron Kwok), whose peers call him Sunny… not really sure why, but let’s say it’s because of his sunny disposition. Or that time he stabbed a waitress to death with a fork for rupturing the yolks on his sunny-side-up eggs. Whatever pulls your lever. Anyway, when Sunshine’s parents died in a car accident (and sadly not during an armed mugging which always makes for a better origin), his uncle Tak (Wah Yuen) took him in and gave him a job as a clown in his traveling performance troupe, The Thunderbolt Circus. Though grateful not to have been cast off like the orphan he was, Sun was never happy as a colorful fool and instead wanted to live up to his dear departed daddy’s legacy as the knife throwing “King of Flying Daggers”, 26th descendant of the legendary marksman, Thousand Flying Daggers. Unfortunately for Sunny he’s more like the Prince of Flying Daggers, and even then the “Prince” part would be more an honorary family title than an earned one. This guy sucks more than a hospital custodian’s ShopVac in the middle of an ebola outbreak when it comes to the family cutlery slinging business. I wouldn’t trust him to butter my biscuits let alone let him hurl sharp lengths of steel at me while I’m strapped to a spinning wheel o’ death!
Despite his insistence that the talent in his genes will bear fruit if Uncle Tak (no word on an “Aunt Tik”) would just give him a chance to put innocent paying customers’ lives in danger, his cousin Zhang Chu (Collin Chou) refuses to give up his place in the spotlight as the show’s marquee marksman. In fact, he threatens to gut Suns if he doesn’t stop trying to horn in on his job, so don’t expect to see our hero headlining shows anytime soon. Unless maybe Chu gets a bout of the flu or leaves the circus to go on a crime spree as a psychotic hulking brute…
It feels like we’re supposed to pity our protagonist in this scenario, but when we’re introduced to him, Sunny literally (as said in Rob Lowe’s Chris Traeger inflection) goes off script during a show in Malaysia and comes within seconds of committing manslaughter on an unknowing audience dupe before cool guy Chu has to step in and put “The Prince” back in his place! Sure, as with the majority of movie bad guys, ChuChu comes off as a douche knocker. BUT, he very likely saved a woman from PTSD at best and straight up VIOLENT DEATH at worst at the hands of selfish man-child Sunny, who was willing to endanger those around him for the sake of his own fucking ego! This guy is our hero!? Holy shit. Overcoming poor self-esteem and a limited natural skill set is fine for a budding hero-to-be like Spider-Man or Kick-Ass, but they only put themselves at risk with their amateur tomfoolery. Sunny is a fucking sociopath! No matter how far this flick may go in its efforts to redeem its do-gooder over the remainder of its runtime, it’s now going to be dragging The Stone of Shame for the extent of said stigmatic excursion. For shame!
As is cinematic law, Chu and the other “too cool for school” members of their little big top clique single Sunny out as the weakest member of the social herd, and as such exercise their dominance by treating him like a red-nosed reindeer. Whilst in Malaysia engaging in their post-show chicanery, the crew catch Sunny tagging along and opt to include him as their point man (i.e. stooge) whom they can just ditch/scapegoat/murder later as the situation requires. Their scheme? The bullies are investigating a local cave rumored to be home to a cache of buried treasure! BUT (yes, there’s always a but there… much like the case of my lap), as we the audience were presented in the picture’s prologue, this cave was the site of war crime experimentation by the Japanese military in the waning days of WW2: Axis Boogaloo. Check out the Men Behind the Sun movies for more on that kinda shit. In an effort to bring an end to their protracted campaign to extend the shadow of their empire over the entire East, these army scientists were dabbling in an immoral aerosol that would induce monsterism in their P.O.W.s, turning the captives into rampaging abominations! Basically Nature’s Goodness minus the pleasing taste.
Before the mutagenic mist could be perfected, the raiders from the Rising Sun’s workspace was bombed all to shit (in a scene I’ll antagonistically analyze later) by the Red Stars, leaving any remaining stashes of the unfinished super-beast spray buried. Can you see where this is going? If not, you might need to make an appointment with the figurative optometrist to get your foresight checked. Benny Chan isn’t just leading us with a trail of bread crumbs, he’s dropping full-on baguettes shaped like arrows! For those with mental glaucoma, here’s the malnourished rendition – the gang open the containers expecting precious metal (to be fair, the first one does have a stash of the shiny stuff) and get a chemical sauna instead a la Return of the Living Dead‘s Frank and Freddy. Our hero ends up passing out on a conveniently placed fishing boat nearby, one of the gang lays dead by broken neck when his attempt to kill Sun goes fatally wrong, and the remaining quartet of super steroid saturated nogoodniks are left vomiting vanilla pudding, no doubt destined to become evil Hong Kong off-brand Ninja Turtles. Not to be confused with Michael Bay’s actual bastardized half-shell bohemoths.
Anubis Note: In case you haven’t seen Rob Zombie’s Halloween II, “bohemoth” is how we spell that shit here. And yes, it’s pronounced “bo-he-muth” in case you were wondering.
It turns out the vessel our bumbler stumbled upon is a smuggling ship, and when his hosts find him unresponsive on board, they toss his sorry ass into the South China Sea! Lucky for him it seems the naturally occurring tides are coincidentally heading back to his homeland of Hong Kong, where he’s washed ashore after a few days afloat. Finally freed from his one-man coma cruise, Sunny awakens to find his body doing its best impression of Spongebob’s stage act: The Amazing Mr. Absorbancy! Sporting an XXXXL waistline and the incessant sensation of walking in wet sneakers, he tries to find his way back to the Thunderbolt Circus home office, discovering how hard it is to hitch a ride in the middle of the night when you look like a cast off from a Ju-On movie set on a cruise ship. Fortunately for him, a lovely lady named Angel Chang (played by Qi Shu, who we recently saw in Journey to the West!) stops, requesting help with her bamboozled back tire then offering her impromptu AAA lifeline a ride home in thanks. Along the way, Sunny recognizes Angel from the local newscast and marks out, declaring his fandom for her. Of all the people in HK who could’ve happened along looking for help, it just so happens that the minor celebrity our hero’s got the awkward stalker hots for is the one. Even for a movie that’s not just stretching it, that’s hyper-extending said “it” like the arm/leg of a generic bad guy in a Steve Seagal movie. Backwards elbows and knees, people. Cringe.
Returned home, Sun bids adieu to his love interest-to-be and plops into bed like the garbage bag full of tapioca he has become. Overnight, he secretes more liquid refreshment than the entirety of the background dancers did across all four volumes of Sweatin’ to the Oldies. While he’s soaking his sleeping space harder than a gang of 3rd grade bed-wetters at a sleepover, his fellow Thunderbolt performers make their turn to a life of crime official as they rob an armored truck to the tune of 5 million dollars! I’m guessing they’re Hong Kong dollars though, so it’s more like 20k American, give or take? Meh. That’ll barely afford them one of Gwyneth Paltry, errrr Paltrow‘s vibrators and a gallon jug of Japanese whale oil lubricant. Peasants.
Fuck sake. For $15k that thing better be a piece of StarkTech that turns into a suit of portable Iron Man armor!
The armored car is just one stop on the quartet’s crime spree tour though, as they’ve been busy knocking over jewelry stores and the like too. Enhanced with telekinetic powers, super strength, and bulletproof skin, it’s been the proverbial cakewalk for the villains. Unable to stop them with mere guns and police brutality, the Mu Shu porkies call in superhuman specialist agents Suen Ho (Jing Wu) and Ching Shau Wah (Jingchu Zhang). Partners in career and in life, the pair are accused of being an adorably low key professional law enforcement couple and could be sentenced to live happily ever after if convicted. I can say, with no certain certainty, that I’m certain these two are my favorite Asian movie couple since Wild Zero‘s Ace and Tobio.
The movie (or at least the English subtitle track I had to hunt down) tells us that Ho and Wah have arrested supernatural criminals before, but doesn’t give us any further allusions to just who these enhanced do-badders were. No idea if the pairing have appeared in prior Benny Chan productions, but in all honesty I really don’t care to look any further than I have already. My dick burns are getting burns on top of them! Just to be safe, I’m going to say that CUS takes place in a cinematic Hong Kong akin to Spider-Man 3 NYC – metahumans aren’t littering the place like Captain America: Civil War, but they’re also clearly not undiscovered yet like Meteor Man.
Speaking of, Meteor Man is part of the Marvel Universe continuity. I shit you not. It’s only a matter (or meteor) of time until we see Robert Townsend’s name show up on a cast listing for Avengers: Infinity War!… maybe “NetFlix’s The Defenders”?… maybe not?… probably not. Blart.
The duo are due to exchange nuptials (or “swap nups” if you’re me, which you’re not, for which you should be praising Ra) in 30 days, so Hao vows to take the Frightful Four down in 20. Really? So he’s going to let them run roughshod on the Kowloon precious gems market for 3 weeks before he decides it’s time to put an end to their shenanigans?! Prick. Speaking of, Angel’s boss/boyfriend KK (Slider?) informers her that the higher ups at the news station are kicking her down the corporate ladder a few rungs so they can give her spot to a younger, hotter replacement named Yoyo. Yoyo? Yep yep. Not only is our lady losing her seat at the anchor desk, but it turns out she’s lost her seat in her boyfriend’s lap too, also replaced by her Duncanian rival. We learn that Angel herself got where she was by traveling the exact same path as Yoyo, but that’s different! Right? Cuz she’s a hero? Meh. Moving on. In an effort to save a shred of what remaining pride our heroine has left, Angel dumps a glass of water over K’s cranium, declares their relationship null and void, and officially hands in her verbal resignation. Whatever makes you feel less like a stepped-on piece of dog shit in the middle of the sidewalk, lady. Keep your head up and move on. Godspeed.
What’s a working gal to do in this modern age of HD media, where genetics are prized over journalistic ethics? Where looks trump integrity? Well, it just so happens that the same day old maid Angel finds herself destined for the unemployment line (or the glue factory… I’m not sure how they tackle this shit in China), her biggest fan awakens with abilities beyond those of mortal men. Indeed, just like Chu and, uhm, the other three circus performers (I’m not good with names or having to look them up), Sunny’s received his membership card to the Superhumans Society! On his way to the police station to explain his situation (and distance himself from his crime spreeing co-workers), his pathway is impeded by a hostage negotiation. Angel, having the Lois Lane-like super power to be in the right place at the right time, witnesses Sunny make the save, freeing the captive policewoman from her assailant with a combination of telescopic slow-mo “precision vision” and inhuman strength, accuracy and reflexes, with which he throws a single stick, shattering the abductor’s gun and piercing his arm from across the street! While everyone around him stares agape in awe and the press presence swarms him for a statement like ants on a Twinkie, ‘Gel whisks him away to a cab (I guess she’s just leaving her own car abandoned in the middle of traffic?!) for a “private interview”… which, despite the probable perversion with which you may have read that (ya gutter creeper), doesn’t mean they went home and swapped sweet and sour sauces. Amazing the places a pair of quotation marks can take the human mind.
With little imaginary hearts floating around his head (might wanna check your scalp for parasites, Flapjack), Sunny’s more than happy to give the newly freelance reporter her exclusive one-on-one with the Hong Kong Kal-El. Meanwhile, back at the Hall of Doom (in this instance, a lovely house in the middle of nowhere with an in-ground pool!), Chu and the others have kidnapped several biological engineers in hopes of reversing the grotesque monster mash side-effects of their genetic mutation. Despite being told there is no way of turning them from Fangoria cover models back into a Silver Ash cover band, they find hope when they see their old punchline Sunny on the evening news looking none the worse for toxic wear. A testament to the ancient healing powers of the South China Sea? Or just another use of the old science fiction deus ex machina of “some people are just genetically different and are immune to stuff!”? Either way, Chu and chums aim to find out.
Arriving at the Thunderbolt Circus locale faster than Bruce Wayne going back to Gotham after conquering The Pit (fucking Dark Knight Rises), the bad guys try to nab their errant clown mid-interview. Chu should change his name to SPF 69, cuz Angel just got Sun blocked! *rimshot* Awkwardly introducing himself to the minor celebrity while his hairline recedes and his increasingly lumpy face is painted up with Luna Vachon veins (see below), Chu confesses that he’s her number one die-hard fan and makes rapey face at her. How… flattering? You can practically hear Miss Chang’s ovaries shriveling on the vine the longer he talks to her. The expected altercation is instigated and the movie’s first real exchange of wire-fu is initiated!
No brawl-for-all by any stretch of the term, Sunny and Angel spend the time running and ducking their pursuers as best they can before finally being subdued. Chu threatens to bleed our hero in the search for the secret of his success, but his knife is halted by the timely intervention of the mutant hunting dynamic duo, Hao and Wah, sporting mirrored shades and martial arts! The battle ends when Sunny, seemingly turning into a cartoon character with his comically red “pressure cooker” face (that you expect to send steam shooting out of both ears), freaks the fuck out and throws two fistfuls of flying daggers at his prior impeder of career promotion. Chu responds in kind, deflecting the swarm of steel shards with a flurry of his own, sending razor sharp metal ricocheting all over the fucking place! Small appliances explode, glass shatters, structures collapse, one of the villains takes an errant dagger to the chest, and the rest of the antagonists beat feet while the heroes collect the unconscious Sunny and rush him to a hospital.
In intensive care, Sunny’s examined by scientists and it’s indeed determined that he bears the mythical movie MacGuffin of antibodies unique to his DNA. Yep, out of the billions of people who would have otherwise been malformed by exposure to the experimental discharge (like the other four people that were), one of the tiny group of FIVE just happened to be uniquely resistant. Not even to the formula in its entirety, mind you, but only the dangerous uglifying parts of it. Don’t think I enjoy telling movie logic to get off my lawn like this. My nitpickery is tantamount to acupuncture needles being slowly pushed between my vertebrae, or filling my codpiece (what, you don’t wear a codpiece?!) with hungry scarabs. It is my curse. Damn Tiki Gods. You put termites in their pillows one time and you spend the rest of eternity wanting to chew your fingers off at bullshit times like this!
While the white coats would rather keep Super Sun under indefinite lock and key for more in-depth observation (and likely dissection for sale to some Chinese super soldier program), the police don’t think the public would be too pleased with the smiling new face of mutant moderating being held in constabulary custody. Instead, Hao and Wah are assigned to be his bodyguards while Miss Chan picks up the role of talent agent to the city’s new cynosure for his upcoming avalanche of inevitable media overexposure. It happened when the Simpsons found that monkey’s paw, and it’ll happen to you too! Angel’s also fallen in love with the little goof already, because of course she has. Some would say she’s got hearts in her eyes, some would say they’re just dollar signs. I say it’s both. I may just be a foreigner, but fill my eyes with that double vision. No disguise, for that double vision.
The glamorous life of hocking Diarrhea Killer and prancing like a grinning idiot for publicity appearances goes straight to the hero’s head, ironically swelling it figuratively while his enemies’ domes are swelling literally. As for Hao, his plan to use the unwitting Sunny as bait to draw out the baddies has put a cramp into his marriage plans, postponing the date and drawing out Wah’s ire instead. She proposes that instead of the two of them tackling the remaining trio of mutants themselves, they train Sun to actually be a superhero rather than just play one, evening up the odds. Hao’s ego won’t let him risk someone else completing his job and taking his glory though, so sad to say, this is the exact moment you can start the countdown clock for Wah’s impending inclusion in the movie’s “in memorium” reel.
Cue the next fight, as Chu and the others make their next move, striking while Sunny D’s doing yet another photo shoot. The in-name-only slayer of sinners gets bodied hard by his nemesis, while Hao uses his uncanny acupuncturist prowess to beat Chu’s girlfriend with ease, promising to have her locked up and experimented on for the rest of whatever life she has left. She opts for what’s behind Door #2 instead, and self-immolates amid the pool of gasoline she was carelessly left incapacitated in. Back inside, Chu shows us his ignorance on human biology (specifically how antibodies work) by Dracula-ing off some of Sun’s vein V8, only to be massively disappointed when it doesn’t remedy away his uggo-itis. Before he can stomp the envy of his eye six feet under, the Heroic Duo drop in from off-screen to save the day. Rather than retreat, Hao’s determined to make good on his promise to marry his wifey-to-be on time, so he trades blows with the biggest baddie and leaves it up to Wah to keep their bait from being snatched off the hook by the last remaining member of the Chu Crew, uhm, mohawk guy.
Ill-prepared for the mutants’ continued evolution, Hao’s pride is his downfall, as his ambition to close the case distracts him from preventing his lady getting her internal organs pulverized by Mohawk. When he finally notices, it’s time for a late retreat as he escapes with Wah and Sunny in tow. But it’s too late. With tear streaked cheeks and a mouthful of blood, Wah tells her incredibly sweaty man to take care of himself, never lose himself, and never be afraid because she’ll always be watching over him. Then she dies…in the passenger seat of a stolen station wagon. Just like Han Solo… in my 2003 fan film re-visioning of Return of the Jedi.
As if this loss wasn’t enough of a shake up, the movie’s timeline gets a bit weird here. Hao sets up Sunny on a cot in a shack along a nearby river and sticks him full of needles to nurse the defeated hero back to health. When said hero comes to, he finds his savior nearby, torching his dearly departed in the flames of his makeshift pyre (i.e. he set the station wagon on fire)…in the same area she died…so…this all has to be taking place not too long after our previous scene…so whose house did they break into for their acupuncture session?! And since when can acupuncture fix broken organs and blood loss in what can’t have been more than a few hours!? OUCH! There goes another two scoops of scarabs.
And so, with both of our brotagonists having fallen hard from the height of hubris, now they must pick each other up like a pair of crane game claws. You know how much of a bitch those things can be. Forged by Loki himself, they are! Anyway, Hao vows to teach Sunny how to control his powers in his scorched fiancee’s honor, so let’s cue the montage!
With her boyfriend/client engaged in secret training for what could be weeks (or might just be a few days? The movie’s not 100% clear on it.), Angel’s left alone to mourn his perceived passing. As alone as you can get when you’re under 24 hour police protection, at least. The star-crossed lovers flashback to black & white renditions of their prior scenes together, denoting loss and longing as such scenes do. Having put the entire city under siege (we have a title!) alongside his last remaining cohort since Sunny’s disappearance, Chu (who stole Weird Al’s plastic Rambo muscle suit from UHF) uses his enemy’s pilfered cell phone to call Angel and tell her how he desperately needs her to deliver him from his personal Hell of emo teen sadness. Note to readers: listening to The Cure and other depressing music when you’re sad doesn’t make you less sad, it just reminds you why you’re sad in the first place, then piles on MORE SAD! Despite the saying, fighting fire with more fire only makes a BIGGER FIRE!
Feeling like she has nothing left to live for now (or maybe she’s just tired of needing a security detail every time she has to dump ass), Angel strikes a plan with the pigs to use her as a lure to entice Chu into a trap. She could just call him back and allow the military to triangulate his locale via the phone, but that wouldn’t put her life in immediate danger, so why bother?! Remember how well things went the last time an Asian movie in The Tomb tried to lure a monster into a trap? No? Go read my Garuda review. I’ll wait.
See? Yeah. Same thing happens here. Shit goes south faster than a racist Yankee after the Emancipation Proclamation. Just as Angel is about to see if her namesake(s) are real, guess who appears from nowhere to save her from being turned into street pizza? If you guessed anyone other than Sunny, you’re either too preoccupied to be reading this episode right now, or you’re just really really really shitty with names. Before the two heavies finally finish their feud in furious combat, Hao takes out both Mohawk and himself, using an urn filled with his beloved’s ashes to smash a light fixture and ignite a broken fuel line. An all too short-lived (no pun intended) exchange whose ultimate finale is predictable, sure, but I like Hao’s use of the urn…which probably contained more than a few leftovers from the station wagon’s ashtray mixed in with whatever he was able to salvage from Wah’s herself if you think about it.
Now for the big climax. Our final showdown is a fair mix of flashy martial arts punches and kicks, superhuman feats of tossed transportation (cars and trucks and such), both guys saving Angel from certain doom, a noble sacrifice or two, an effort to apply some last minute pathos to the villain, and a mandatory bit of the throwing knife dueling that started this whole rivalry, though not as much as you’d expect given all the hours/days/weeks of training Sunny pulled in the previous sequence. Speaking of, here’s a PSA for any fellow mutants out there: Don’t be like Chu. Take absolute care when it comes to protecting your lower back in any combat situation, as any perforation of the area has a high likelihood of causing your internal organs to violently detonate. I recommend investing in one of Lumpy Leroy’s Cast Iron Cummerbunds! Tell ’em Anubis sent you to get free shipping and $5 off your first order!
Good triumphs over evil, and just to make sure Benny Chan gets to tick off the final line of his “superhero movie tropes” checklist, Angel throws herself in front of one of Chu’s daggers to protect Sunny while he’s busy being a paragon of human decency and saving a family trapped in a flaming car. She survives though, and Sunny kills Chu, so the audience gets to go home on a high note. Such ends the ballad of Johnny Two Blades, errr, Twin-Dagger Sunny. Marge, is this a happy ending or a sad ending?
I opted to review CUS based entirely on the promise of “a circus clown gains super powers and has to fight his co-workers who have become super villains”. Little did I know that Sunny’s screen time in greasepaint would be relegated to his 5 minute introduction, thus abandoning the novelty almost immediately. Boooo. Points lost out of the gate for the misleading synopsis. Things don’t get much better from then on either. It’s not that this is a bad superhero movie. The problem is that Benny Chan tries so hard bending over backwards to emulate the Hollywood blockbuster comic book flick formula that he falls on his head and knackers himself, leaving us with one of the most generic by-the-numbers super movies I’ve ever seen.
If you and your riffmates are looking for a feature to play Genre Bingo with, CUS fills all the boxes in its category. Hapless hero? Check. Hero’s parents dead? Check. The villain is an associate from the hero’s personal life? Check. The hero’s crush falls in love with him shortly after getting to know him? Check. Said romantic interest is injured/killed during the final battle? Check. The villain’s given moments of sympathy so we’re supposed to regret his forthcoming death? Check. The hero wins his first fight, loses his second, then comes back to win in the end? Check. Pride and/or ego lead to the hero’s momentary downfall? Check. The hero overcomes his fall from grace by embracing the wise words of a mentor/father figure? Check. Training montage?! BINGO! BINGO! BINGOOOOO!
Yep. That’s my biggest beef with this movie: I’ve seen it all before. Chan tries something a little atypical of the Asian fantasy epics, but over does it on the Americanization stuff. I’m all for tweaking with the General Tso recipe, but not with heaps of ketchup. The computer generated shit’s not the best, but I don’t expect it to be from any movie born of an outside-of-Tinseltown budget. Consider my expectations tempered in that regard. Also, despite my general dislike for Sunny’s goofball demeanor (and those stupid hand motions he makes every time he refers to himself as “Twin-Daggers”), finally seeing him buckle down and become the mature good guy in the final act, despite being hackneyed, made me hate him a bit less. He’s still a heaping tub of chodeslaw though for putting that audience member’s life at risk in the beginning. Psycho. Angel’s only a smidgen further north on the moral compass, because she didn’t almost kill somebody with her fuckery. She did start her relationship with Sunny under the animus of hitching herself to his rising star though, looking out for her own best interests while also getting to stick it to her former employer for letting her go. Because again, she was being replaced by a younger, more attractive woman, the same way she herself ascended to the position in the first place!
As noted prior, Hao and Wah are my favorite part of this titular besieged metropolis. They’re cute without being overly saccharine. They’re equal parts business and pleasure without going too far to either end. Hao’s conceit leads to his greatest loss, but he earns his redemption by becoming the hero’s teacher, then gets his peace in the end, fulfilling his duty and joining his beloved in oblivion. Aces. Sadly, when your supporting cast is more endearing than your main characters, you’re doing something wrong, Benny. Write better.
I’m going to end this episode on the movie’s groaniest groan-inducer before I take off. Remember when I said I’d get back to my ire over the destruction of the Japanese army’s Malaysian Frankenstein lab? Yep. Although the attack on the lab comes from outside, a series of precisely laid out explosions erupt inside of the cave in a designated order. I’m not the type to think that anything is impossible. Highly improbable, of course, but not necessarily impossible…except this. Could the Chinese forces have infiltrated the lair the night before, laid out a bunch of C4, and simply been waiting for the right time to blow their load of shock & awe all over the faces of their enemies? Sure. Maybe. No. Never. Stop. I’ve included a little visual aid to illustrate this particular blister on my butt.
Our next two episodes will be features in name but not in length, so they shouldn’t take four months to finish. Keep your eyes peeled like the delicious delicious grapes they are for the first such installment in the next few days, with the other coming out Sunday-ish. Until then, this is the end. The only end, my friend. Always live your life like a flying dagger!
But… if it’s “Universal”, how can it be “Limited”?
“GAH! I’VE HAD THAT FUCKING ‘CALL ME MAYBE’ SONG BURIED IN MY BRAIN FOR FOUR YEARS! FOR THE LOVE OF CRONENBERG, SOMEONE HIT ME WITH A SHOVEL AND DISLODGE IT!”
“Gacy Good Times International – introducing underage boys to crawlspaces the world over!” (Coulrophobics? I’m sorry. Coulrophiliacs? You’re welcome.)
So other countries have their own Criss Angel to suffer through? Kinda nice to know we in the US aren’t alone in suffering madoucheians.
“Your milk money or your life!”
“I know you’re hungry, but we can stop and get you some fresh clam strips. Those have been sitting under my seat for at least a week.”
“This is James Chang. James came out of a 10 year coma last week and has never seen ‘2 Girls 1 Cup’. We’re going to broadcast his reaction live, tonight on ‘60 Minutes‘.”
Looks like the next Wolverine movie will be based entirely on a version of the character found in those Chinese dollar store action figure sets. Maybe this will be the first step toward finally getting that Super Man Big Alliance team-up movie we’ve been begging Marble and CD Comiks for!
Up next in the Chinatown Burt Reynolds Look-a-like Pageant: Charlie “The Gator” Zhang!
If Beavis and Butthead taught us nothing else, it’s that nothing stops a nosebleed better than a tampon.
“I want to thank you for electing me your King Dingus for the season! I will do my best to uphold the honor of the position at the sacrifice of what little dignity I have left!”
Nice shades. If they look into each others’ eyes, will it create some kind of reality collapsing infinity loop?!
Hey! He stole Meg Griffin’s power to grow her fingernails long! Plagiarist!
“Well, you know we’re gonna end up in this 3-way eventually, so we might as well get it over with so we can make our car payment on time. Paper, Rock, Scissors for position?”
“I killed my stylist for dressing me in this stupid hat. Then I formed his face skin into my corsage!”
As much as I love Elizabeth Banks, this is what the new Rita Repulsa should look like!
Excedrin headache number 245 – You’ve been exposed to an experimental toxin and turned into a raging mutant. Your brain feels like its going to explode out of your skull, and simple aspirin won’t do the trick. You need Excedrin!… or a hole drilled in your head to release the evil spirits that are haunting you. Either one works, really.
Ever cried so hard that tears came out of your whole face? If not, you’ve never known real love. Congratulations.
This is why you never try to cuddle your pet porcupine.
“So you decided to turn the car we stole into your fiancee’s funeral pyre?”
“Okay. Did you happen to look it over first to make sure there wasn’t anything else in there? I only ask because I can’t find my wallet…”
Hao’s DIY car crematorium was such a success that he decided to really up his game and turn it into a career! He’s in such demand now that he’s burning entire skyscrapers full of bodies every day!
Yes! Someone finally answered the Craigslist contract I put out on Justin Beiber! Guess I better get that $120 together. Time to turn in my bottles and cans.
I told Nosferatu not to feed on those professional bodybuilders, but at least he’s seeing some sick gains! What vampire needs the use of their testicles anyway?
The ages old geek query of “What if Venus De Milo (from the live-action Ninja Turtles show) fucked Killer Croc?” is finally answered.
Anubis will return next time in
“The Three People You Meet in Texas”
Featuring: Alex “The Descent” Reid , Chris “’Kung-Fu: the Legend Continues‘” Potter , Neus “Torrente” Asensi
Director: Jack “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge” Sholder
Writer: Mark “Sci-fighters” Sevi
TheTombOfAnubis.com – Promoting literacy through good ol’ fashioned read-only bad movie pontifications! Video reviews be damned! (Maybe now we can qualify for one of those big-ass educational grants from the government!)
For our final furlong (not Edward) of this field trip to the Fantastic Factory, I’ll be pulling the limbs off of the eight-legged freak known as Arachnid. And as you may have guessed by the rating, said furlong is a fucking death march. I could’ve saved myself a lot of misery had I done the rerun re-view review of Stuart Gordon’s Dagon, which originally left me with the unfulfilled hope that Gordon would be more involved with Yuzna’s company beyond the singular feature he helmed. You know, kinda like how people who hope that House of Re-Animator will ever happen are living in a fool’s paradise, eating the deceptive fruits of the delusion tree. Anyway, Dagon has already been earmarked for another reviews thing, so worry not, I’ll get to it sooner or later! For now? Shit, let’s get this over with…
Arachnid wastes no time dumping our books and pushing us into an impossibly deep mud puddle, establishing itself as our bullying tormentor from the opening scene. An eye blistering sequence of the most amateurish of computer-borne special effects plays out, as a devil-may-care test pilot codenamed Lightfoot (Jesus Cabrero) flies a stealth bomber and rocks us like the proverbial hurricane. He’s blasting ass all over the Pacific Ocean, minus the dulcet tones of Kenny Loggins telling us about his scenic drive to the titular Danger Zone. Speaking of, today’s episode is brought to you by The Danger Zone™!
Parents, do you need somewhere to drop off your little ones while you and the spouse test drive the new gimp suits down at Paco’s Pleasure Palace™? Leave ’em at The Danger Zone™ – It’s like Chuck E. Cheese’s, but with more exposed wiring, broken bottles, and used hypodermic needles in the ball pit to help your brat grow some balls instead of encouraging them to be a weak little sissy like those other family fun centers do! We don’t accidentally hire known sex offenders anymore (or any less)! Just take Exit 37 off the highway to The Danger Zone™!
No sooner does Lightfoot go full stealth (and “mean and extreme”), than he catches sight of an alien spacecraft, camouflaged with some of that Predator brand “wavy air” cloaking tech…because they were too cheap to dedicate any of this already middling computer effects budgets toward designing an actual ship. The craft appears to have been harvesting sea life via a self-generated water spout when ‘Footsie interrupted. When he decides he can’t leave well enough alone and pursues the ship, his plane’s systems fail and he’s forced to bail…I’m sorry, I mean he’s forced to extreme bail in the meanest of totally gnarly fashions, bro! The bomber rear-ends the alien ship (looks like the Pentagon’s gonna be raising taxes to cover the bump in their insurance premium from this one!), resulting in a hilarious explosion that looks like it was lifted out of a ’90s PC game. The first rule of making a low budget movie? If you can’t afford to make something look even remotely realistic, DON’T SHOOT IT! And if you do, and it’s so stank-awful it makes your nose hairs curl and your eyes squirt like Flower Tucci’s twat? LEAVE IT ON THE CUTTING ROOM FLOOR! Fuck. And this is the movie’s opening! I told you we were in for some pain and shame, kids.
‘Foot parachutes down to a nearby island (that was NOWHERE to be seen in any of the wide open ocean footage we just saw), and within its luscious green canopy he finds a smoking crater that’s WAY too small for the size of the alien ship he just jackknifed. Also, despite crashing, the craft’s remnants are nowhere to be seen as the alien cloaking system was apparently unaffected by the mid-air collision nor the face plant into terra firma, because fuck the audience. An e.t. (that resembles what I imagine years of inbreeding between the mutants of This Island Earth would produce) appears, but its personal cloaking device must be failing as it distorts in and out of view like the picture on an old TV when someone turns on the Hoover. As Lightfoot watches in horror, gun drawn on the visitor, some giant spidery legs sprawl out from behind it, restrain it, then impale it on what I’m guessing to be a big spider dick. The murderous arachnid then leaps into the trees, with ‘Foot firing after it to no avail while the alien begins to sizzle (at least that’s what the closed captioning “subtitles” call it) before fizzling into nothingness. Goodbye, shitty digital alien puppet thing. You won’t be missed.
Some Silly String looking shit then sprays over our hero (looks like the same stuff the Mothra larva and Kumongas used to jizz out in the old Toho Godzilla movies) before he turns away, coming eye-to-eyes with what I’m guessing is the eponymous subject of the movie. Cue his screams and likely pants filling before we cut to the title card.
As our opening credits fade in and out of reality (not unlike the alien), we’re taken to a small airstrip in Guam, where we meet who’s sure to be the movie’s real hero(ine), Loren Mercer (Alex Reid). Merc’s been hired by one of the local physicians, Dr. Leon (Jose Sancho), to fly a small group out to a nearby island where the natives have been dying of an unknown illness transmitted by mysterious spider-like bites. The fatal sickness looks to me to show the symptoms of onset Brundlefly-itis, but damn it Jim, I’m a Death God, not a doctor! Also along for the trip are Dr. L’s assistant Susana (Neus Asensi), hired gun/field leader Lev Valentine (Chris Potter), Lev’s heavies Bear (Rocqueford Alan) and Reyes (Luis Lorenzo), published entomologist Dr. Henry Capri (Ravil Isyanov, stealing work from Ted Raimi) and native guide Toe Boy (Robert Vincencio, stealing work from that guy who played Pedro in Napoleon Dynamite). No idea if “Toe Boy” is his tribe given name or just a joke name he was stuck with by the missionaries who brought him there in the first place, but Toe Boy’s his name, so Toe Boy’s what we’re calling him! You know, if he grew up to become an orthopedic surgeon he could graduate from Toe Boy to Toe Cutter…
Obviously, Henry’s going because Dr. L suspects some new breed of spider to be the cause of the sickness, but what else is he preparing for if he’s hired a trio of heavily armed military types to escort them?! Turns out Lev’s just one of those “overcompensating” types, as he declares to Lore that his sense of personal security directly correlates with the amount of armaments he carries with him. Or, to use his exact words: “The more guns I have, the safer I feel!”. I’ll let Matt Parker and Trey Stone posit my reaction on that statement:
On the ride over, Lev and Lore chat it up a bit and establish some character background for us. He and Bear are both former Marines, while Loren is a recently retired Air Force fighter pilot. She resigned her commission with Uncle Sam to become a small time charter pilot on a two-bit island to “look for something”, of which I’m sure we’ll learn later. Mistaking Lev’s interest in getting to know her better as smooth talk, Lore makes sure to put it out there that she’s not interested in “companionship, a relationship, or even a hump buddy”… hump buddy?! What ex-military personnel calls it “humping”?! The term is FUCK buddy! Humping is what dogs to your leg. Believe me, as a human-jackal hybrid deity, I know.
Loren’s electronics randomly die out on her, so she’s forced to crash land on the island’s beach. It’s a groaner of a scene, worthy of an episode of “Perfect Strangers” as the passengers throw themselves about in a panic and the camera’s shaken violently. The crash initiates an irritating back-and-forth bickerfest between Ms. Mercer and Doc Leon that carries on until one of them dies later (guess which one), and also divides the others as loyal attendant Susana and inevitable love interest Lev take obvious sides. The only silver lining about putting the group at odds is a scene where Loren makes a comment to Lev alluding to the idea that Susana sucked her doctorate out of the doctor’s dick, only to have Suze lock her smarmy holier-than-thou ass in “Oh Snap!” Jail when she runs down all of the bad ass work she had to do to earn her position! Even when Lore tries to salvage a sliver of pride with “Impressive. I just fly planes.”, Suze straight napalms her with “Apparently not very well”, then puts a black cherry on top of her shit-talk sundae by offering to help Loren with the scads of gnarly blackheads on her nose!
It’s a good thing there are two such experienced medical practitioners in her party, because I doubt this backwoods jungle had a burn center equipped to treat the degree of posterior immolation our heroine just experienced. Her backside’s figuratively looking like some redneck’s after launching a bottle rocket from his butthole: scorched earth. Ouch!
Mercer plans to stay on the beach with the plane and try to hail a cab ride home, but when she notices that Toe Boy’s wearing a scarf made out of a familiar material not native to the natives, she reconsiders and goes into the ominous overgrowth with the others. Could it have anything to do with the mysterious “something” that she mentioned she was looking for earlier? If you said, “Of course it does!” then you get a cookie! If you said “Huh? Why would you think that? I don’t think it does.”, then slap your parents for me. They know what they did…
From here on it’s your basic slasher formula, as everybody gets picked off one-by-one by the killer. In this case, the jungle is the knife-wielding murderer in the situation appropriate mask. Macho macho man Reyes is the first to ride the bus, errr bite the dust, and he’s not even done in by the movie’s title terror! Instead, he ends up infested by some unholy tropical monstrosity breed of super ticks that plant themselves under his skin, crawl around to gross out the audience, mate, then force their way out of the nearest orifices. In this case, that would be his left eye socket and mouth. Somehow, as soon Henry told us the little buggers would extract themselves once they were done filling their gore sacs with Meathead’s life juice, I knew he wasn’t going to get out of this with both oculars intact. As decent an ipecac as this may have been for amateurs, I just re-watched Ticks a few weeks ago, so what happens here is Baby Town Frolics compared to watching a steroid engorged ultra-tick wearing Carlton Banks as a skin suit.
Reyes is no big loss, as all he really contributed to the movie was being the resident douche-knocker who spent his time failing attempts at promoting himself to Susana as desirable breeding stock. That and doing bong hits off of a canister of liquid nitrogen for laughs. The latter serves to prove himself a dumbass while also establishing that liquid nitrogen will no doubt be used again later on, given Doc Leon’s graphic description of what it would do to the human body if swallowed. It’s nothing nearly as cool, but at least when it is brought back later, no one’s left throwing empty beer cans at the screen and shouting, “WHERE’D THE HELL THAT COME FROM?!”. Once the oversized parasites jump their lumpy ship (and are burst via bullets), Bear puts his partner out of his misery with a pity round planted in his coconut, turning the galoot’s ideas that Vitamin B was a pliable alternative to bug repellant into so much red mist. Two things you never turn down when offered? Bug spray and sunscreen. Don’t question me, make like Nike and JUST DO IT!
Upon finding Toe’s village, it turns out that the place is empty. Either we’ve got a Roanoake Colony situation here, or everybody’s already been digested by the abominations of the surrounding terrain. I’d hazard a guess and say they’re all spider poops by now. Lore also discovers more of the aforementioned mystery material amidst the remnants of the tribe, which Lev confirms to be parachute cloth. Remember Lightfoot? Turns out he’s Loren’s brother. Well, more likely was her brother. Seems that after he went missing, the Navy searched two months for him before giving up. Hence, she left the Air Force to continue her own search via part-time chartering. 2-to-1 says he’s NOT living like Robinson Crusoe nearby, while 200-to-1 says he’s become the King of the Spider-People! Just the way Horror of Spider Island should have ended.
Meanwhile, Henry’s study of the specimens he collects reveals that there are species of spiders on the island that have heretofore unseen evolutionary traits, like internal skeletons in addition to their exoskeletons. This Darwinian wet dream continues on as another overdeveloped freak combining serpentine and arachnid traits (but resembling a giant centipede with most of its legs removed), drags off one of Toe Boy’s peers (let’s call him Toe Rag) and pumps him full of what I can only imagine to be some manner of mega-venom. After emptying a few dozen clips of ammo trying to shoot the hellspawn, it hyper-slithers off into the night like a Chestburster on Four Loko.
After the attack, Lev decides it’s time to scrap this death march and get the fuck outta Spiderville, to the chagrin of Doctors Leon and Capri. Lore insists on staying to look for her brother, but agrees to go too when Lev offers to come back with her and continue the search once the civvies have been returned home. Except for Bear, who gets the shit task of going into the hills with no one but another of Toe Boy’s victim-fodder buddies to try and snag an emergency radio signal! You’ve just discovered that the place is littered with super-evolved killing machines and you send the only black dude in the cast out into the woods with an extra who doesn’t get any lines in the script other that screaming “AH! AHHH!” when he gets a bio-acid bukkake 2 minutes later?! Fuck you, Cracker Jack!
Henry wanders off on his own against Lev’s orders to do some more entomological exploring and ends up confronted by the giant alpha arachnid. By the time the others catch up to him, he’s been turned into an incubator for the next generation of mutants and bound up tighter than my colon after that time I ate an entire wheel of cheese by myself. He’s also transformed from a poor man’s Ted Raimi into a slightly less-poor man’s Dominique Pinon (the guy who played all of the clones in City of Lost Children, which is sadly disqualified from being reviewed here) as he babbles about how the spider is trying to evolve-fuck with everything on the island (including him, presumably), and how its structure is far too large to have developed in Earth’s gravity, thus it must be alien in origin. Well, at least that semi-verifies that it came here on the crashed alien ship, thanks to Loren’s dumbass brother. Oh, speaking of which, they found Lightfoot’s remains webbed to a tree nearby, hollowed out and heavily decomposed. Likely what Dr. Capri is gonna look like after his intestinal spider-babies hatch. No mother’s ever the same after she gives birth. Trust me, I’ve seen my share of scrotummies in my eons.
Henry too gets a mercy death, only instead of a slug through the dome he gets pumped full of morphine as he vomits blood and fades out, asking that the group take his spider samples back with them so the species can be cataloged and named after him. Ruining the moment, Big Momma Octo-Legs shows herself in all of her giant puppet glory, and the heroes unload a few dozen rounds into her to little avail. The design’s actually not bad looking, and the numerous active bits around her mouth are pretty impressive! Kinda reminds me of a Graboid mouth minus the cluster of snake monster tongues. After the opening scene instilled the horror in me that we’d be getting some piss-poor CG beast a la Ice Spiders, I’ll gladly endorse a big angry animatronic! Sure, it’s a bit stiff and barely mobile (not unlike Pumpkinhead) in the wide shots, but at least it’s not the furry VW Bug from Giant Spider Invasion! Then again, this movie is actually making me pine for that sweat stained ’70s hillbilly monster matinee, so maybe a furry VW doesn’t seem all that bad right now.
In their escape from Jeff Daniels’ worst nightmare, Susana gets wrapped up in a massive web (look where the fuck you’re going, Miss Brown Belt!) and while the others try to free her (told you that liquid nitrogen was going to come back into play later), dipshit Dr. Leon just casually stands around doing nothing in particular. While everyone else is trying to save his assistant, the geezer looks like he’s nonchalantly waiting for the fucking crosstown bus or wondering if he remembered to cancel his mail service before he left!
With no apparent fucks to give, the old man is naturally the next to die, pumped full of paralyzing toxin and barfed on with alien Alka-Seltzer. Suze, Lev, and Loren escape to an abandoned WW2 Japanese military shed nearby, and Toe Boy has managed to disappear. No doubt he’ll be back later, likely to play cavalry with a machine gun toting Bear in tow, provided the trio can hole up long enough to be saved. Speaking of, when the beast tries to get in through a boarded up window, Lev manages to get himself bitten, which is bound to happen when you’re stupid enough to attack something like that head-on He-Man style with nothing but a machete! While he lays on the floor going into shock, Shelob’s great-great-great-great-great-granddaughter manages to creepy-crawl into the hanger without notifying the girls (maybe because they couldn’t hear anything over the blaring background music), forcing them to escape into a backroom to continue hiding. “Lady Tarzan” Suze, revealing that’s she’s claustrophobic, takes the first chance she gets to bolt from the enclosed space, budging her way to the head of the “who dies next” line. As the last interesting character in the cast goes, so does my already impotent interest. Actually, we’ve still got Bear, so maybe there’s hope yet!
Lev and Lore manage to find some old tunnels underneath the building that lead them to safety. Well, not safety so much, as they’re still in the living death trap ecosystem that is the jungle, but elsewhere none-the-less. They rest, and Loren has a nightmare about her brother becoming a more realistic version of what you’d think Spider-Man would’ve looked like if his movie had been directed by David Cronenberg. Though a nicely gruesome sequence on paper, big brother’s cheap rubber mask face kills the mood faster than the cries of a dumpster baby on prom night.
As expected, she wakes up to find Bear and Toe standing over her, so they load up and go spider hunting while Mr. Valentine continues to cling to life. Tracking the creature feature to its underground lair, they catch it sleeping/molting and find hundreds of eggs just waiting to crack open and unleash new rubbery horrors on the world. What a time to lose your flamethrower at the baggage check! Of course the Bride of Tarantula wakes up and takes out the movie’s real hero, jamming a head spike into Bear’s eye and killing him as Loren spends the whole time just shouting “No! Bear! Oh my God, Bear! Bear, get out of there! Bear! Look out, Bear!”, saying his name repeatedly as a less creative version of the Meow Game in Super Troopers. Just as she too is about to succumb to the monster’s appetite, Lev uses the last of his strength to come to the guns blazing rescue, alongside Toe Boy. TB fulfills several sequences of foreshadowing from earlier and uses blowdarts dipped in Black Widow venom to wound Big Momma further. Loren, connected to the creature via a tow line of webbing, finishes the beast off by pulling it down from the cave ceiling and impaling it on a waiting stalagmite as it shrieks its death rattle, bringing to mind the hilarious finale of Jaws: the Revenge. Fucking roaring shark. Thinking about it puts me in the mood to make love to an angry welder. Or get a hoagie.
So, I guess this means Loren and Lev are off to get married and raise Toe Boy as their own, now? Or, since he’s the last of his tribe, will they just sell him to a museum? Or, will the Amazing Man-Spider watching them from the shadows (likely Loren’s niece/nephew) just kill all three of them? I don’t know about you, but given that we’ll never get a squeakquel on this one (thank Isis for small miracles), I’m going with that last one as the canonical epilogue to this tale. With that behind us, let’s make like a responsible dick owner on a one-night stand and wrap it up!
Son of a Sniglet. What a way to end a reviews thing. Four weeks of episodes dedicated to a dumb theme and this is how it goes – not with a bang, but with a fart. The uptick of Beneath Still Waters was immediately followed with a massive kidney stone. I haven’t seen all of the Fantastic Factory offerings, but Arachnid has to be their lowest of low notes. Their own personal Brown Note, if you will. Now all I can hear in my brain is Depeche Mode singing “Their own. Personal. Brown note”.
Mark Sevi’s first EIGHT writing credits were all forgettable sequels to action and sci-fi movies in the ’90s, most of which were direct-to-video. The biggest titles on his resume that stick out to me are the reprehensible Ghoulies IV and the Corey Haim starring Fast Getaway II. Sevi’s “talent” really shines through in Arachnid too, most notably in one scene straight out of a waaaaaaacky comedy. As Lev interrupts Loren while she’s taking a shit, he makes a comment about being careful because of ticks. She makes her best “Goldie Hawn in Overboard” snooty face in response, then gets stuck in a giant spider-hole full of arachnid spooge. Lev and Bear pull her free before she can be eaten by whatever’s down there, and she falls on top of her boyfriend-in-waiting, only to have their shirts glued together by said spider-goo, causing them both to go topless (don’t get excited folks, she’s wearing a bra), leading to the “hilarious” misunderstanding of everyone back at the group thinking they were off bumping the proverbial uglies in the bushes. There’s even a half-baked jump scare moment, as Lev reaches back into the hole to retrieve Loren’s boot, ignorant that he narrowly evaded an attack by the monster. It’s 5 minutes of movie that not only didn’t tickle my funny bone, but shattered it with a hammer while I had to type the whole scenario out just now. And you know that’s never going to heal right. Blart.
Thematically, I’m down with the concept of a super spider mating with other species to create the apex of predation, but it just brings up the same problem I have every time I’m presented with an alien that mates with Earthlings: how the fuck are their reproductive systems compatible?! I get that a big component of science fiction is the “fiction”, but the other big component is the “SCIENCE”! If you’re gonna have intergalactic baby makin’, show me you put the effort into explaining how it’s possible! Or at least have someone bring up the question! Fuck! We’ve got two scientists in the party and neither one of them says, “Wait, so a spider’s been fucking snakes and ticks and people and everything else it can jam it’s furry spider-dong into, but how the hell are the Earth creatures reproductively compatible?!”. It’s the gods-damned “Saiyan frustration” all over again and it’s gonna make me lose my shit! GRARRGH!
Okay, settle down Anubis. Tranquilizers are your friend. Calm blue ocean. Calm blue ocean. Calm blue ocean. Serenity….now. Okay. Anyway, to be fair, the acting’s not terrible and some of the characters are likable. I would’ve preferred Susana and Bear making it to the end with Toe or Dr. Capri, but you knew they were all destined for the spider’s dinner plate…or breeding dungeon. The gore’s okay too, but those CG effects in the beginning? After already having to sit through them twice, I’d rather wear contact lenses bathed in ghost pepper sauce than do it again. And though the big evil spider puppet looks good when stationary, it’s painfully ugly when in motion (aside from those cool mouth tendrils) and even uglier when reduced to more of that nauseating, no-budget, computer-made rubbish as it jumps around its den.
Overall, I’m glad we were never “blessed” by the sequel we’re threatened with at the end. I never advocate for arachnicide. Hell, my Evil Dead Bride and I welcome all eight-legged guests in our tomb and encourage them to stay a while, so long as they don’t get stepped on or eaten by our cats. I had spiders wind up in my hair, beard, and behind my ear on three separate occasions in one week, so they’re not a source of scares in our home. But Arachnid? Kill it with fire, flush the ashes, and salt the earth it was filmed on so nothing like it can ever grow again.
And with that, we say goodbye to the Fantastic Factory. Probably the best thing to come about from that shit awful Fant4stic box office poison. I hope you had as much fun reading these reviews as I had writing them. The overall quality of the movies wasn’t great, but at least the concepts behind them lived up to the company moniker! They’re a decent atypical alternative to the endless generic slashers, zombie-fests, and found-footage hauntings that overrun the horror show market. There are a few more titles in their cache, so you can bet your Re-Animator 10th Anniversary LaserDisc that I’ll be coming back to finish what I began, not unlike Beatrix Kiddo in her titular revenge quest. Only, you know, less about vengeance stuff and more about being a completionist to whom this unfinished business will be itching powder on my medulla oblongata until it’s done.
With the “Fantastic Four” reviews thing now in the books (and said books going into the pyre as soon as government agents kick in my front door), what depths of darkness and depravity are waiting around the bend? All I can say is that the next new review will be a very special episode of
“Blossom” The Tomb of Anubis, so be sure to tune in with someone you love!
The self-proclaimed “Cheese King of Green Bay”.
There’s a space ship in this shot. Can you spot it? This is what happens when you spend your budget hiring the guy from ‘Silk Stalkings‘ to star in your crappy giant spider movie.
My computer made the same request when I put in the Arachnid DVD.
It’s an adult version of one of those little rubber puppet demons from Rock ‘N Roll Nightmare!
“No, I’m not Ted Raimi, but yes I will star in your Skinner 2 Kickstarter project!”
They’re all laughing because they ate Taco Bell for lunch and this is going to be a LONG plane ride… and Susana knows it too.
“Do you like the X-Men? I was the voice of Gambit in the cartoon, you know. Maybe you’d like to go out sometime, chere?”
“Sure. Have you every been… spelunking?”
“I’m sorry! This has never happened to me before, I swear! Oh jeez. There’s never been so much of it, either. Oh Hell, I got some in your hair too. I have some baby wipes in my pack, just gimme a second.”
I see someone took that “eat with your butt and poop with your mouth” episode of ‘South Park‘ to heart. Uggh.
The Red Ryder BB Gun’s campaign of cycloptic terror continues!
“No, I’m not the wheelchair guy from Alien Resurrection. But, if you get me out of here, I will give you my autograph!”
Every year, 1 out of every 10 entomologists is sexually assaulted by giant spiders. Don’t let this happen to you. Never accept drinks from spiders you don’t know.
[Graboid voice:] “Something smells like Kevin Bacon! Bacon! Bacon! Bacon! Bacon! Only one thing smells like Kevin Bacon and that’s Kevin Bacon! IT’S BAAAAACOOOON!”
“Oh Garfield. If you can hate Mondays as much as you do, but still have the capacity to love lasagna like that, maybe we all have a chance at happiness.”
That guy’s putting his optometrist’s kids through college!
Looks like they’ll have to reset their “Days Since Last Giant Spider Attack” counter back now.
“Rocky Dennis is the Amazing Spider-Man!”
“What? Don’t you get it? ‘A man walks into a bar – OUCH!’? You don’t GET IT?! COME ON! It’s a pun on the word ‘bar’! How are you not laughing right now?! Clearly you’re some kind of sociopath.”
Anubis will return next time in
“Appetite for Duodenum”
Featuring: Scott “Reeker” Whyte , Michael “The Hills Have Eyes” Berryman , Sig “Spider-Baby” Haig
Director: Charles “Evil Bong” Band
Writer: Dominic “Critters” Muir
Also Known As: The Haunted Casino
Anyway, Dead Man’s Hand: Casino of the Damned. For starters, what’s the Jerry Seinfeld with that title?! It’s a major fucking mouthful and I’m not even speaking it out loud! Could Band not decide on one of the two title ideas he came up with, so he just threw them together?! A title that long is usually reserved for a sequel! I can see confused people at 2007 Blockbuster stores (or just current NetFlix users) thinking to themselves, “I never saw the original Dead Man’s Hand, so I won’t know what’s going on in Casino of the Damned. Oh well, I’ll just have to rent Corky Romano instead.” Now I can blame Charles Band for giving money to Corky Romano! Somebody get Kevin Murphy on the horn.
After originally settling on this as my next rerun review, I ended up searching all of the usual torrent spots for a copy and come up with a big middle-finger-shaped ZERO for hits. I took to YouTube and all of the usual streaming suspects to try and find an Isis damned source, all for NAUGHT. The cheap bastard internet failed me. Finally, I had to break down and rent it from Amazon for $2.99. Yes, I paid the better part of three American dollars to sit through this stupid, stupid movie again. If you enjoy this review and would like to contribute to the Anubis Suffered for Our Entertainment Relief Fund Refund, please make PayPal donations to firstname.lastname@example.org… my tombofanubis account was seized by the FBI for suspected terrorist activity. Start ONE KickStarter to have Uwe Boll publicly drawn and quartered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and they call me the terrorist! Blart.
Hope you’ve got your pillows and pajamas on standby dear readers, because it’s time for a mouthful of concentrated narcolepsy.
In an effort by Chuck Band to cash in on the revitalized career of Sig Haig following The Devil’s Rejects, as well as the world’s never-lost love for gambling, here comes Dead Man’s Hand: Casino of the Damned. Oh Charles Band, how you refuse to let your Full Moon set. After Evil Bong I wondered if you’d really have the plugots to stick around and try yet again to squeeze blood from one more turnip… and not karo syrup either, I mean actual blood… by which I mean money… huh? Stop trying to confuse me with your mind games Band! Damn you! You will not beat me this time! I will watch DMHCotD and I will be endowed with a peace-of-self that Buddha only wishes he could achieve!… or just hate it with a seething irritation unseen since I last forced my guts to digest a whole jar of spicy pickled eggs. Now, watch me air guitar “Run to the Hills” as we fade into the play-by-play for tonight’s horizontal bop…
The first thing I noticed is that the Full Moon opening logo has been updated from the classic “rising moon” motif into a slightly fancier “flurry of bats” version. Though I prefer the original, it really is more an icon of the “1990s direct-to-video” legacy. The new one’s actually not shittily done either, so I guess I approve. Hopefully this isn’t the best in store for the next 90 minutes of my life, though a familiar stabbing pain in my kidneys makes me think otherwise… and tells me I’ve probably been drinking way too much in recent weeks. Speaking of which, what exactly are the next 90 minutes of my life about? Well, an 8 minute intro scene that establishes the tissue paper thin plot (and wanders aimlessly for the other 7 minutes and 54 seconds) insists on our attention before we even get to the opening credits. Already my teeth are floating and I now wish I hadn’t sold my last blunt to my former 10th grade art teacher… who soooo wants me to pose nude for her next night school class. The topic is lewd cubist etchings! Looks like I better get to work trimming my pubes into a whimsical topiary before Tuesday!
There’s a story in here somewhere, and its whimpering cries sound a little like this: Matt (Scott Whyte) inherits the abandoned remains of the Dragna Mysteria Casino from his recently deceased uncle, Franco Dragna. That’s a name so hokey I’d be willing to bet my Cyberfrog back issues that Band lifted it straight from a circa ‘60s Stan Lee tale. You know, back when every month there was a new giant monster with a single-syllable name like Groot or Mung or Klur, or the occasional double-syllable name like Zarkorr… which Band outright stole for his $40 kaiju claptrap Zarkorr the Invader. That’s right Chuck, I know of your four-color plagiary. Meet me on Pier 19 at 2:43am. Bring 10,000 blank DVD-R’s and a set of Puppet Master statuettes. Come alone… not to be confused with what you do while crying into your bath towels on the toilet every night before bed.
Wasn’t there supposed to be a movie somewhere in between all these random tirades? Shit, I’m only 10 minutes into the damn thing and I’ve already finished my third paragraph…
Matt and his undeservedly cute girlfriend Jennifer (Robin Sydney, who reminds me of Laura San Giacomo with nicer hair and sans Letterman tooth gap) take a road trip to claim his new rundown party spot, bringing along their friends who I will name Stoner (Jeff Spicolli protege), Groaner (fun-hating protocol nerd), and Boner & BoneHer (horny “beautiful people” couple). Matt and Jen are the “in love” couple, Stone and Groan are the non-couple pair from opposite sides of the main couple’s friend spectrum who can’t stand each other, while ‘Ner and Her are the pseudo sex mongers with the “pseudo” part actually being a “kinda funny” take on the slasher stereotype in that “little blue pill” kinda way…
He suffers from Erectile Dysfunction is what I’m alluding to there. She just bangs on the walls of their motel room and makes fake orgasm sounds to perpetuate the falsehood of raucous sex time so Boner’s buddies don’t need to know about his floppy jalopy.
Apparently unhappy with the caliber of desperate young actors he can get now as opposed to 15 years ago, once the kids get to the abandoned casino Band has them spend a lot of time as little more than talking silhouettes. Maybe they get paid by the scene, and scenes where their faces are obscured pay less? I dunno. While Jen tries to build up Matt’s confidence about wanting to re-open the dump and make money off of Nevada’s Welfare gambling addicts and old people on assisted living, one of the old slot machines she pops a quarter into coughs up bloody teeth instead of Chuck E. Cheese tokens! Looks like there’s something wrong at the Mysteria… though the violently killed janitor and executor of the estate in the beginning could’ve told you the same thing. Did I forget to mention that part? Don’t worry, it wasn’t important.
Thanks to an old (conveniently placed) publication of the Las Vegas Daily Plot that Matt finds amidst the one-armed bandits, we learn that 40 years (and a day) prior to our cast’s arrival, five mobsters were killed at that very casino (on a dark and stormy night, no doubt). The two most notable bodies being man-in-charge Roy “the Word” Donahue (Sid Haig) and his hired goon Gil (Michael Berryman). Uncle Franco was trying to run a legit gambling house back in the ‘60s, but Roy and friends didn’t like Draga not sharing any slices of his Lucky 7 gamble pie. I know how they feel too, because when my Uncle Horus took the last slice of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving a few years ago, his arm needed 30 skin graft surgeries and most of his ass flesh before it looked like anything resembling a humanoid limb again.
As you can guess, those five dead bad guys are now haunting the place and ready to get back to taking pieces from other peoples’ pies. This time said pies being the bodies of our cast of generic twenty-somethings. Various toenail yanking gambling puns are made, there’s a lot of drawn out screen time where literally nothing happens, and finally, 50 or so minutes into the mire, ghost Roy and his phantom posse pop up to say hi. The ghouls threaten to pretty much rape and torment the kids (not necessarily in that order), but rather than get right to it they have time to pad out before then, so first they mention a secret stash of 2 million in silver that Franco hid somewhere in the casino. This tidbit leaves Matt adequately interested in sticking around. I get the feeling they’ll all have ectoplasm in their cornholes come morning, but I guess some people would rather be rich and ghost raped than poor and and with their not ghost raped dignity intact.
Even when the group says fuck the hidden treasure and try to escape, they find the exits have all been barricaded and no cell phone signal can escape the supernatural structure… not unlike when I swing by one of Dionysus’ booze blitzes on Mount Olympus, where no cell service provider dares trek. Anyway, each of Roy and Gil’s supporter spooks has their own alternate form that reflects their casino jobs in their past lives: the slots girl is a banshee with slots for eyes, the black jack dealer turns into a machete wielding poker card Jack with black hair, and the roulette guy… has a fat round head. I’m getting flashbacks of the ulcer encouraging cenobites (“cenoshites” being a more appropriate term me thinks) of Hellraiser III, and flashbacks like that more often than not result a flare up of my Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, so let’s not talk about them anymore.
In the end the title poker hand comes into play, and the silver plot point feels more like a bad afterthought than an integral part of the “story”, much like our two marquee names’ roles. Oh yeah, and there’s also a little mathematical discrepancy about just how many people the ghostly quintet kills in the repayment of the blood debt Matt inherited from his uncle. I’d say I was surprised, but I literally have no poker face. Seriously, every year I get together with the pantheon of deities and we have a Texas Hold ‘Em tourney. In an effort to avoid my usual tells I tear off my own face. If I could figure out how to play without my eyeballs too I’d win every time! Unfortunately, I do not win with DMHCotD. No one wins with it. Actually, that’s not 100% confirmed. It’s possible that the old adage stays true and the house wins, so long as Full Moon managed to recoup whatever their costs were on this wheel of CHUD cheese. At this point I’ve pretty much given up hope on Charles Band turning his act around, so I’d rather this particular house burn… to the ground… then be buried in a large hole… and eaten by Graboids… who are then harvested, shot in the face with an elephant gun, melted down with corrosive acid, dished into an old Cool Whip container, and buried 75 miles beneath the North Pole… amidst flesh eating bacterium… and radioactive polar bear droppings… and even then I will still not know true peace.
I don’t expect genius from Full Moon features. I don’t expect high art, or even passable art. I don’t ask for blockbuster cinema or high concept filmmaking. But come on, if I have to watch stupid hollow characters give me lessons on being disposable, at least dish them out to me en masse and have ’em grotesquely dispatched equally so. And how the fuck do you introduce the seeds for a potential lesbo love scene (turns out Groaner’s got a wet spot for BoneHer) and not deliver on it Band!? Did you really have to toss out the shameless displays of horny male placation along with the already questionable “good” qualities once associated with Full Moon’s productions?! Come on, man. You’re not only insulting the fans at this point, but you’re insulting their semi-iconic bad movie heroes as well by suckering them into your cinematic quicksand, then dealing them out a meager 5 minutes of screen time! For shame. Your movie gets a big fat raspberry. I don’t mean a regular raspberry either, I mean a raspberry delivered with the disgust the general public reserves for Hitler, and razzed by a tongue infected with those gooey rupturing pustules from Planet Terror!
And then there’s Rihanna, who I’d give a DNA whitewashing to so fast you’d think she’d gotten the Michael Jackson express skin bleach treatment. She’s not in this movie, and I don’t think she’d ever be caught dead (or undead) watching it, but showering her in my nut custard is tops on my “shit I think about when the movie sucks” list. I don’t care if she does look like she’s sporting peg legs when she’s wearing ballet shoes in the video for that umbrella song! Speaking of women who make my pole stand up and salute, she hasn’t seen the movie (and never will), but I can guarantee you that my Evil Dead Bride won’t be too pleased when I tell her that one of the characters quotes Dostoyevsky in a movie that thinks the term “ghoulette wheel” constitutes wit. I can hear her copy of The Brothers Karamazov trying to break its own binding from here. With any luck, her promise that she reads my reviews is just to make me feel better about wasting my time on them and she never actually learns this horrible horrible truth. As for me, here comes that PTSD again…
Xtro: You know what’s worse than a really low budget amateur horror movie made on the proverbial shoestring budget? A really BORING low budget PROFESSIONAL horror movie made on a BOOTLACE budget. Both Charles Bland and Dominic Muir have been making movies for decades, so you can’t blame this meandering chore disguised as a full length movie on being the work of know-nothing first-timers. Though low to be sure, this budget obviously wasn’t miniscule, yet I’ve seen lesser money do more because those productions at least had some gusto behind them. Granted, it was dollar store gusto (the name of my imaginary band Sex Golem’s unplugged album), but a little gusto goes a lot further than the lazy ass “we need to put together a movie in 7 hours before the car wash owner we convinced to finance us sues us for spending all of his money on scratch-off lotto tickets!” movie we were stuck with.
DMH:CotD will either cure your insomnia or infect you with ADHD. It’s got so much padding to it, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Martin Lawrence wearing it under a house dress in another Big Momma’s House sequel. The first five minutes are spent watching a janitor (who we’ll call Scruffy) and an estate lawyer (who we’ll call Single Female Lawyer) wandering around the dust and cobweb strewn titular gambling establishment to “prepare” it for Matt’s arrival. FIVE MINUTES. Sure, at the end they’re both killed (Scruffy apparently getting his face ripped off by the Evil Dead “first person camera” demons), but their sacrifices aren’t worth the effort it takes the viewers to get there. And there’s a LOT of equally aimless scenes to be had over the course of this tiptoe through the poppy fields. My least favorite of which would have to be watching Boner take pics of BoneHer in the so-called gambling establishment of damnation for her website. It’s only 60 seconds, but it’s 60 seconds of him just taking pictures, pretending to be aroused, and saying generic stuff like “You look so killer, babe!” and “These are gonna look sooooo good for your website!”. My only hope is that this scene was born of poor ad-libbing and that Muir didn’t actually waste the printer ink on putting this excuse for dialog into the actual script.
When the ghosts finally do show up, they don’t really do much at first. Again, gotta pad the run time. Can’t afford to shoot any scenes outside of the cheap set they rented for the afternoon, so said padding has to be done within the casino. When the killing does get underway, it just involves the spooks handcuffing their victims to gaming tables, then cheating them at Black Jack and Roulette as an excuse to dismember them. Except for BoneHer, who just gets her face supernaturally sandblasted off by the ghost of the slot machine girl after she calls Slots a “skank” for trying to wake up Boner’s pliant pony. Dead or alive, bitches don’t front. Also, when the ghosts are about to kill their victims, they turn from perfectly human looking specters into big weird puppet headed things with goofy glowing red eyes taken out of a SegaCD FMV. These “visions of horror” are goofy. They’re mega goofy. They’re so damn goofy that they’re goofier than a dozen alternate timeline Goofys having a circle jerk, and all their penises have Goofy faces on them that go “HYUK!” after every stroke. In other words: the goofiest Goofy to ever goof.
Well, Sid Haig and Michael Berryman aren’t goofy. They’re spared the corny rubber heads because they never actually kill anyone. That’s right, Captain Spaulding and Brother Pluto are in your movie as murderous gangster ghosts and they don’t kill ANYONE. What the fuck are you doing, Charles Bland?! Do you hire these guys for your movie just to show us that you can make them completely un-cool at your petty whims?! Shit. You already ruined the Full Moon name, but do you have to rub it in our faces all the harder by infecting the filmographies of good horror icons with vulgar tumors like this!? No wonder your mother cursed your name before throwing herself into that alligator pit. You’re a monster!
As far as the review itself goes, the movie hasn’t aged well. But, given that it was dog shit to start with, you can’t really expect dog shit to improve or deteriorate with age. Either way it’s still dog shit, so DMH is what it is. I’m finding myself becoming a bigger fan of Robin Sydney though, every time I see her. Not for her acting chops, but because she’s my type. Well, in regards to “actresses I would’ve beat off to back in high school before free internet porn was readily available on EVERY DEVICE IN THE HOUSE”. I just watched a boner burner on my microwave last night! …though that may have just been a bowl of tacos and hot dogs I was reheating. Either way, my penis thanks you, Robin Sydney. Beyond that, I’m pretty disappointed in myself from 7 years ago for failing to make a “not to be confused with the Goulet Wheel” joke upon mention of the movie’s ghoulette wheel gag. Especially now that Robert Goulet’s dead, that joke’s well past its own expiration date. Oh well, hindsight’s a story on “20/20”!
In closing, I’d like to echo Roy’s final words from the movie as my last sentiment for this movie “Fuck you!”. Now I’m getting out of here, as I have more important things to do today. I Tivo’d “Jeopardy”!
Moral of the Story: “Seems to me like your withered wang can use all the help it can get.” If Dead Man’s Hand is any indicator of the status of Charles Band’s “wang”, we’re gonna need a few thousand cc’s of extra strength boner juice before we get anything resembling another Trancers or Puppet Master. Chuck? This is nature’s way of saying Full Moon shouldn’t be allowed to reproduce anymore. Stop with the Mexican knock-off Viagra and just retire. Nobody wants to see your flaccid old nub anymore.
“Converting this abandoned men’s room into a luxury water bar for rich dogs is my ticket to the good life!”
She’s cute, but she takes up all the covers… and the bed… and she farts in her sleep… like, a LOT.
“Remember how I told you I had an IUD put in last month so you couldn’t get me pregnant? Well… here it is! Hello 18 years of child support payments! Tee-hee.”
“It’s okay, honey. I’m sure plenty of guys get unintentionally turned on at family reunions. Aunt Cally will probably forget all about your disturbing tent pitching by Christmas… 2028.”
Sounds like the kinda place named by a really bad DM in the worst game of Dungeons & Dragons ever.
Hey, it’s “The Sunday Night NBC Mystery Movie“! (shout out to my SoL peeps)
Separated at birth or just separated at beard? You decide!
After the last incident, Greg only reads his “Goosebumps” stories now while sitting on the toilet.
“ANY girl can get an engagement ring, but with this gift shop hat and these dollar store cobwebs, you’ve won my heart forever! Yes! A thousand times ‘YES’! I WILL become Mrs. Ralph Hapschatt!”
I know that look. It’s the one my grandfather always used to get right before he told you to pull his finger. My advice: don’t pull Sid Haig’s finger.
Ah, the look of a man who regrets putting “I’ll try anything once” in his Craigslist “Casual Encounters” ad. I know it well… painfully, painfully well.
“I know you’re really upset right now and you probably want some personal space, but that’s the only hand towel we’ve got… and… I kinda need to… dry my hands… so…”
It’s Anne Coulter! Somebody get the duct tape and gasoline from my trunk!
I hate that guy. He’s such a Jack-off!… cuz he’s a Jack… like the poker cards?… I’m going to die alone, aren’t I?
If Band doesn’t stop putting that stupid Gingerdead Man costume in all of his movies, the thing’s gonna be more beat up than Godzilla’s in Hedorah the Smog Monster! Hmmm, a lot of very niche jokes today… not predicting strong numbers on this review.
If the Ninja Turtles are the product of turtles doused in mutagen following exposure to humans, I’m pretty sure Michael Berryman is a product of the opposite.
Anubis will return next time in
“Minor-Ass-Itch Rides Again”