Feature 59 – Romasanta (2004)

or “Werewolves. Mayhem. Soap.”

Featuring: Julian “Warlock” Sands , Elsa “Fast Five” Pataky , John “The Machinist” Sharian

Director: Paco “[REC]” Plaza

Writers: Alberto “Extinction” Marini , Elena “Prime Time Serra , Alfredo Conde

Origin: Spain

Also Known As: Werewolf Hunter , Werewolf Hunter: The Legend of Romasanta , The Werewolf Manhunt , Romasanta: the Werewolf Hunt

Review_____

“When a dog tries to bite you, you can kick it. But with a wolf…”

I’d like to thank the gents of The Celluloid Zeroes for letting me horn in on their “Adult Onset Lycanthropy” roundtable. Be sure to check out the rest of the crew’s reviews, as linked at the bottom of this one!

I told you I’d get back to the Fantastic Factory sooner or later! Romasanta was originally supposed to be the cap-off for the “Fantastic Four” reviews thing, but when the AOL ‘table was announced, I thought it better to nudge it back a couple of episodes and put Arachnid in its place (in both contexts). And so here we are! And Julian Sands is here with us! Hooray! From the first time I saw Warlock, to his voice work as the villain in ‘The Jackie Chan Adventures‘ and all the smaller pay days in-between (like Naked Lunch and Tale of a Vampire), I’m always a sucker for a good Sands job. That sounded so much dirtier than intended. Bravo. *golf clap*

What we have here (aside from a failure to communicate) is one of those “based on a true story” flicks that neglects to put the word “loosely” at the beginning of that statement. Or, in cases of stuff like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, “almost not at all”. Romasanta actually keeps it pretty close to the truth, and could even be construed as keeping it absolutely 100 if you’re going by the claims of the eponymous real-life serial killer (Spain’s first, incidentally!) upon which the story is based. Now, who wants to relive one of the most bizarre crimes in the annals of Spanish history with Uncle Anubis?!

No. You can’t sit in my lap anymore. Your parents think it’s inappropriate and I’m not dealing with wild accusations and angry villagers wielding torches because you’re not comfortable sitting on the floor. You don’t like it? Bring a pillow to these things, because I’m not buying a chair. It’s bad enough I let you use my bathroom and eat my Circus Peanuts.

Our tale takes place in the village of Galicia. The year is 1851. Queen Isabella II (Electric Boogaloo) rules the land while both fending off the Carlists who want her dethroned and trying her best to make her marriage with her gay cousin Francisco work (at least that’s what Wikipedia told me). Lacking televisions, the children are babysat/entertained by poorly done puppet shows. Everyone is generally pleased with life, despite the lack of indoor plumbing and constant threat of wolf attacks. Seems Galicia’s been having a lot of the latter lately, so much so that the disappearance of a local bailiff (you know, like Bull from “Night Court”) has been blamed on lupinous ill-intentions. When his body is recovered, ravaged with tooth and claw wounds, a bounty goes into effect for every wolf carcass collected. A plan to promote both populace safety and lower the general fear factor, since nothing motivates the frightened masses better than the clinking of coinage! They go so far as to trap the poor things in cages and shoot them dead in the middle of the market square so everyone can watch. Where’s Princess Mononoke when you need her?! Oh, right. Japan. Never mind.

We’re introduced to Barbara (Elsa Pataky), a lovely young Galician gal, as she goes out to the family barn to check on their animals one night. She finds their pig with its throat ripped out (Oh god! Not Orson!) along with the culprit (an almost jackal-esque wolf) still eating its newly acquired dinner not 10 feet away. The quadrupedal menace growls at her, threatening to make her the next course on the esophageal buffet. Fortunately for Babs, her brother-in-law Manuel (Julian Sands) appears from nowhere in the nick of time to stare down the sinister pooch and send it packing with its literal proverbial tail betwixt its legs. Was it intimidated by the stance of an alpha male, or did wolfy see what happened to Cloquet’s houseboy in Naked Lunch and just think “Yeah… fuck that. Adios!”.


(I was going to post a pic of what did happen to Cloquet’s houseboy, but this completely unrelated Naked Lunch still is funnier)

Manuel is a traveling salesman and transcriber for people who can’t write their own letters. Remember, this is the 19th century. “School House Rock” hasn’t been invented yet. He’s back from the road, much to the relief of wife Maria (Maru Valdivielso), mute daughter Teresa (Luna McGill), and aforementioned s-i-l Barbara, who will feel a lot more secure in the wake of the recent wolf ransacking now that there’s a man (and apparent wolf whisperer) in the house again. His stay won’t be long though, as he’s moving everybody to Santander – a fancier township where they can get a tutor to teach Teresa sign language. Also, though they probably still have wolves there, they’re probably just not so human hungry. Kinda like how Candy Apple Island still has apes, just not as big as the apes on Ape Island.

Everybody’s up for the move, but Maria’s one of those housewives who watches too much “Maury”. She thinks little sister has the skank eye for her Man(uel), so she insists on leaving Barb behind to fend for herself “until they can find a position for her” in their new zip code. When Babs insists on going with them and tries to talk to Manny about it, Mar pulls a knife on her and threatens to gut her if she doesn’t take her exile from the family like a good girl! This went from “Maury” to “Jerry Springer” faster than you can say “Keep it in the family”! Yikes.

Not wanting to see if she can live without her spleen, Barb acquiesces and stays behind, alone in the family farmhouse. Maria wonders if she’s done the right thing, but doesn’t have long to regret her decision, since Manny KILLS HER! Yep. On the way to their new home, the trio stops in the forest to make camp for the night. While Mar’s off bathing (don’t get excited, as “bathing” in this sense involves wearing full pantaloons AND her corset), Mr. Romasanta torments little Teresa by JAMMING TWIGS INTO HER PET BIRD’S EYES (so it flies around manically “like a butterfly”), then sending her off silently screaming into the woods to get caught in a wolf trap, where he finishes her off by JAMMING STICKS INTO HER EYES TOO! I’m a heartless monster, but even I can’t get behind child abuse like that. Jesus fuck biscuits! Anyway, Maria finds her, but has her mourning cut short when the camera lunges at her horrified visage before cutting to black. You know, that multipurpose Evil Dead technique that builds suspense by not showing you who/what is attacking her, while also saving a few Pesetas by not having to pony up for a monster suit that won’t look like a pile of shit and zippers when shot in daylight.

Galicia’s District Attorney, Luciano (Gary Piquer, looking kinda like Viggo Mortensen in a beard), is determined to get to the bottom of these killings. Apparently the D.A.s back then didn’t just do court stuff, they doubled as the Sheriff. To help him sniff out the true culprit(s) behind these killings and keep this wolf hunt from becoming a witch hunt, Lucy calls for outside help in the form of Algerian man-of-science Professor Philips (David Gant). Dr. Phil provides some classic insight into 19th century criminology, like how big headed sweaty guys are always guilty because they can’t control their natural affinity toward evil. In my case, that’s very true. He also believes that through physical and mental manipulation, these people need not be executed, but can be rehabilitated. When the town’s tribunal tasks him with proving the legitimacy of his science, Phil uses said lawmaker as an example and sticks a couple of needles into his brow line, causing him to sob uncontrollably. How this proves that the Moisty McPumpkinSkull they’ve pulled in as a suspect could be a serial killer, I have no clue, but I didn’t study at 19th Century Doctor College. I earned the Leeching Bachelor’s degree on my wall by watching The Giant Leeches.

Prof Philips is also well versed in the coronery arts, not to be confused with the “culinary arts” or “coronary arts”, so don’t. Through his autopsies of the victims (preserved in coffins filled with salt), he drops the unsettling knowledge that one of the bodies, a 14 year-old girl who kinda resembles the now deceased Teresa, was also the recipient of a postmortem custard pumping. This means that not only is our killer a hebephiliac, but also a necrophiliac…making him some kind of necrohebephiliphiliac. Queasy.

An expensive earring was also discovered on the body, meaning that she was from a well-to-do village elsewhere. Since wolves eat their prey where they find it (too stuck up for doggy bags), obviously they wouldn’t have dragged this girl all the way here from wherever she was killed. Even if, I’m pretty sure most wolves don’t rape their dinner after they’ve killed it either. Unless of course it was a Wall Street wolf, as they’re pretty abhorrent sexual deviants if the legends are to be true. *rimshot* No, necrophilia on a teenage girl seems more like the kind of nightmarish horror nature reserves for humans…or otters. Seriously, look up the dark acts those furry little motherfuckers get up to after dark. You’ll wanna round ’em up and throw ’em all into a giant blender after you do. As Lord Byron famously put it, “I shit you not”.

Philips also finds that the bodies have wounds consistent with not only teeth and claws, but also knife incisions! Curiously enough, they’ve also been relieved of all of their body fat. Though this sounds like the result of some radical fucking medieval liposuction, everybody who saw/read Fight Club gun jumped to the immediate conclusion I did: somebody’s making soap. Given that soap is still a luxury item at this time, who do we know that sells luxury items? That’s a bingo. Our killer has a name-o. And it’s the title of the movie. Which we already know by this point because we just got done watching Manuel Romasanta kill his wife and daughter. Such is the problem when we’re watching a murder mystery that already shows us who the killer is: there’s nothing for us to figure out and we just sit back and wait for Manny to start killing people like it’s just another slasher movie. Blart.

Speaking of Manfred, he returns to Galicia the following morning, bearing gifts for his dear s-i-l. Barbara wakes up to the tune of an ornate music box and the sight of an extravagant gold dress. After she puts the dress on and starts eyeball fucking herself in her mirror, Manny creeps up on her and gets all squeezey and strokey on her neck and clavicle, telling her how beautiful she is. In a classier way than when I woo a woman by whispering stuff like “You’re curing my ED.” or “I wish you weren’t married right now” into her ear on the subway. Barb asks the smooth talker just how many women he’s knocked the boots off of, to which he offers up the usual verbal evasive maneuvering every double-dipping Don Juan pulls out in times of interrogation, all the while seeing the faces of his presumed victims in the mirror. Barb catches sight of her sibling’s guilt-inducing visage in the looking glass though, and talks herself out of engaging in any of Manuel’s infidelity. If I had a dollar for every time some spook cockblocked me, I’d have enough to buy one of those PornHub twerking Terminator butts. I know what’s going on my Cthulhumas wish list!

Manny tells Barb that her sister and niece are fine and dandy in Santander, and that Maria’s even procured her a job! See, if we didn’t know that he’d already killed his wife and daughter, this would’ve worked much better. Instead of getting the big reveal at the end though, now we just watch him perv on the young object of his affections while wondering how far it goes before Barb insists on seeing her loved ones. Though milady’s hormones are haunted by the disapproving, cunt-punting, sister specter (no doubt just an embodiment of her guilty groin), it takes all of an hour or two for her to exorcise that loin phantom. During her morning bath, Manny creeps up on her again, this time giving her an erotic washing in the tub that leads to some submarinal stimulation of the clitoral variety. Even when he gives her the moral out and pulls his hand away, she gives him the “Oh, you are NOT fucking done yet, mister!” look and pulls his hand back between her thighs, putting the “sensual” in “consensual”. Manny must be a helluva marksman, cuz his fingerbang game hits the bullseye! Fingerbang! Bang bang bang!

Though the identity of our serial murderer is never in doubt, the exact origins of his situation are brought into question during a flashback sequence. We see Manny pick up an injured farmer along the road (back then they only had one road and it went to every town and it was uphill both ways in 6 feet of snow) and offer to take him to the next town to get treated for the sickle wound he’s suffered. Determined that the guy won’t make it, Romy (sans Michelle) offers to write up a goodbye letter for him and deliver it to his soon-to-be widow. Farmer Fred gives up the ghost mid-sentence, so our suavely sinister lead fills it in with some really schmaltzy shite about how her butt won’t quit and $5 chewy pretzels or something. He delivers the message and worms his way into filling the now gaping hole in her life…and any other holes that could use a good stiff tending to (said with a perverse “heh heh heh” and a liberal “humpin’ thrust” motion).

This brings to question exactly how it is that Manuel got involved with Maria. Was Teresa his biological daughter or his stepdaughter? The movie stays pretty obtuse on the topic, thought I’d like to think that it’s intentional. Whatever his true relation to Barb’s family, while Romasanta continues his seduction of his s-i-l, a goon with a scarred face trespasses on their property and attempts to shoot him in the back! No surprise, as said goon has a massive dome and looks like the type of person who’s constantly wiping his sweaty palms on his pants. Seeing the (hilariously computer generated) glint off the rifle first, Barb throws herself into the line of fire and takes one for her man. The mystery mongoloid slips away while Manuel takes her inside and extracts the slug of silver from her back, saving her life. He picks this as the most appropriate time to declare that his life belongs to her, but the most inappropriate time to gift her a lovely little necklace in thanks. A necklace that he lifted from Teresa’s neck right before he murdered her! Giving your new girlfriend a prized trinket stolen from her beloved relative is the only thing worse than giving her an engagement ring with your ex’s name still etched in the band, and this guy fucking does it! That’s a whole new level of dick move, and that’s coming from one of the King Dongs of dicks! For shame on you, Mr. ‘Santa. Hell, FIVE shame on you, you bastard.

Naturally Bar recognizes the bauble (taken from her only freaking niece!) so that night, while her new fuck buddy is copping some z’s, she goes snooping through his caravan. Under a loose floorboard, Nancy Drew finds a small chest of misappropriated valuables, along with some not exactly clear but very official looking documentation with Teresa and Maria’s names on them. I thought they were death certificates at first, but my Evil Dead Bride suggests that they may be the gals’ wills. But, would a child even have a will? Whatever the case, no sooner does Bar put everything back, then someone cartjacks her! Wait…so Manuel leaves his horses tied to the cart at night? What the fuck?! That’s the 19th century version of leaving the keys in the ignition and the doors unlocked! His insurance company won’t be paying a dime on this claim…

During the kerfuffle, Babs is tossed around worse than someone trying to get to the toilet on a Greyhound. No diggity. Indiana Jones has an easier time crossing rope bridges. And trying to piss standing up while it’s doing 65 on the highway without getting it all over your shoes? It should be part of the initiation process to get into fucking Skull & Bones! Anyway, a dropped lantern turns the whole thing into a mobile inferno, with our de facto heroine (who’s not exactly a bastion of morality since she’s having an affair with her dead sister’s husband) managing a literal leap of faith that would make Zoe Bell pop a thumbs up. She’s immediately accosted by Lumpy Scarface, who rips off a piece of her dress, rubs it on his face saying “they’ll follow me”, and runs off into the woods to play decoy, shouting to attract the attention of the baying wolves echoing in the night.

The next morning, she wakes up to find the galoot has since returned, and he enlightens her as to his origin story. His name is Antonio, and he used to be a common thief. One day, while burgling a church, he was confronted by a wolf (I still say the wolves around here look more like jackals) that shrugged off a point-blank gunshot like it was the world’s mildest beer belch. In retaliation, it attacked this clearance rack Randy Couture and brought him into the brotherhood of the wolf (different movie). After engaging in a few co-murders with his new barking bro, Tony became so overwhelmed with guilt that he now hunts Romasanta to bring an end to the monster and maybe get his own curse lifted by scoring a few redemption points from Jehovah while he’s at it.

When Barb goes with him to the constables to corroborate his story about the WolfManuel (see what I did there?), they declare Tony as clearly insane and have him locked up. No doubt his big fat head and damp mitts gave him away. They practically caught him red wet handed, wakka-wakka! Despite Antonio’s detaining, D.A. Lucy believes Babs enough to put out the 1850s equivalent of an APB on Romasanta before sending her home. While there, she finds a stash of Manny’s stuff, including letters he had transcribed for his many girlfriends to their families, but never delivered. It’s not explained whether he intended to deliver these later, was keeping them as mementos of his conquests (serial killers are weird like that), or just hadn’t gotten around to burning them yet, but they serve as the perfect plot twist excuse to turn Babs vigilante and put her on his trail. She takes off across the countryside, returning the letters to their original senders and asking around about any recent Romy sightings. As you can guess, it turns out this traveling salesman has a different alias in every town, and now that his new squeeze is ratting him out, it’s time to start cutting ties with all of these other girlfriends. Along with their throats, abdomens and whatever else he feels like severing.

Ladies, when a man is willing to murder all of his other girlfriends to be with you, it means you’re his Jet Li/Neo. You’re the One.

Back at the nuthouse, the doctors tell Tony that he’s not now, nor has he ever been a werewolf. He’s simply a delusional psychopath who was manipulated by Manuel into being his murder amigo. The Ottis Toole to his Henry Lee Lucas. The Tex Watson to his Charles Manson. The Ringo to his rest-of-The Beatles! With the second banana’s help, the man(uel)hunt gets a lead on where the killing spree could be heading next: a middle of nowhere town wherein the killer is cornered while doing day laborer work, reaping in a wheat field. For a scene where so many people are wielding scythes and sickles, there’s a disappointing lack of dismemberment to be had. Despite managing to evade the 5-0, Santa doesn’t run off like a smart fugitive would. Instead he takes the opportunity to confront his lady love (she fell behind the rest of the posse when her gunshot wound re-opened), who holds him at arm’s length with the tip of a sickle planted firmly in his neck. Whether her restraint is because she still loves him somewhere in her head, she wants to let the judicial system deal with him, or she just wants to know how her body rates next to the 30 or so other baked potatoes he was slinging his sour cream with (I’m presuming from experience, not sexist stereotypes), she keeps him there until the constabulary circle back around and take him into custody. The tension of this scene makes it a real “shut up and take notice!” moment. The intensity on Barb’s face sold me on Pataky as not just a likeable and lovely lady actor, but as someone who can act the living Hel out of such a scene with just her face. Between that and Plaza’s direction, it’s insta-boner stuff that puts movies with five times its production values to shame.

Manny’s taken back to Galicia and put on trial while a ravenous gang of villagers screams for his head outside the courthouse. They sadly lack the torches, pitchforks, and nooses you come to expect from angry Victorian Era mobs. Besides, why would there be multiple nooses? Did Steve, Randy and Carl ALL think it was their turn as “noose guy” in the rotation? Or is Randy known for using cheap rope when it’s his turn, so Steve and Carl just thought it prudent to bring back ups so as not to let Randy’s thrifty tendencies ruin another perfectly good lynching? “Damn it, Randy! You do this EVERY time!”

At trial, “the Werewolf of Allariz”’s defense is that he’s innocent and it’s Mother Nature who’s responsible for his crimes. Typical self-entitled cunt, always blaming his parents for his choice to be an asshole. Where he comes from (Allariz), it’s well known that the 9th born son of any family is touched by the Devil, and being his father’s 9th son that makes him inherently (or inheritedly in this case) evil. His transformation into the wolf is his malediction, and since a wolf’s natural instinct is to kill, it’s not his fault that he kills people when he’s furry and four-legged. He says he can be saved, and that his love for Barbara is the cure to the curse. Their relationship is the only thing that’s ever given him regret for his crimes and he didn’t feel the urge to kill a single person for the few days he spent romancing/fingerbanging her. To test this claim, the Professor (and Mary Ann?) puts him under hypnosis and he’s taken to the forest so the tribunal can witness his transformation into a bloodthirsty fleabag…or just watch a grown man play make believe. Santa recreates his actions during the murder of Maria and Teresa and guess what? No transformation. Not a physical one anyway. Sands’ portrayal of said recreation is either grand drama or pure scenery munchery. I’m not entirely sure which, but it’s definitely something worth watching!

Phillips diagnoses Romasanta with Adult Onset Lycanthropy (take a shot!), in that a strong emotional trigger turns him into a ravenous maniac. So, he becomes a metaphorical “wolf man”, rather than a literal one like more superstitious (i.e., dumb) people would believe. Thus, Phillips believes Manuel’s not only not responsible for the crimes he committed but can be rehabbed, thus Dr. P recommends to the judges that Romy be given over to the custody of the sanitarium. As with any cop, this puts Luciano on the express strain to FUCK YOU! Town, as his moral code of black & white (insert joke about racist cops here) says there’s no excuse for criminal acts and Roms needs to be imprisoned, followed by a nice public execution so justice can be served! I’m waiting for him to pull a Dirty Harry or a Frank Castle and just put a bullet between Manuel’s pretty blue eyes before this is over.

The court’s verdict? Manuel is to be remanded to the asylum’s custody pending further investigation. While there, he starts to pen his memoirs until he’s interrupted by Babs (wow, way to go security) who brings a silver knife to a love fight. She falters when Manny declares she can’t kill him because her heart won’t let her, but hopeless romantics tend to underestimate the overpowering lust for revenge. His lady love sheathes her pig sticker into her boyfriend’s pancreas, albeit with tears in her eyes. He falls to the floor, uttering his last words to her as some poetic b.s. about love and death before he says hello to Oblivion (“Hello, Oblivion!”) and fades to black. I’m as wrapped up in the words of wooing (not to be confused with Ric Flair’s words of “WOO!”ing) as the next tragic love story lead, but I’m pretty sure my final line to my girlfriend-turned-executioner would’ve been some variation of “AHHHH! FUCK! YOU FUCKING KILLED ME, YOU CUNT! I HOPE YOU DIE UGLY AND ALONE, YOU SELFISH BITCH!”. I can be a real prick when it comes to girlfriends gutting me though, literally and figuratively.

When the pork people discover him DOA, Lucy sees no need to investigate, likely chalking it up to a Willy Loman (*wink*wink*), but possibly going with the old “self defense” excuse after they put a gun in his hand and a bag of angel dust in his pocket. Like Bruce Hornsby put, that’s just the way it is, some things will never change. Funny how people who clamor for by-the-books justice are always the first to go rogue when said “justice” doesn’t fit their personal definition. I mean, this wasn’t even a case of a crooked judge or a slimy lawyer getting a serial rapist off the hook because the arresting officer wouldn’t let him wash his hands before cuffing them! The criminologist that he himself brought in to help with the investigation says that Romasanta’s insanity plea is legit, so Deputy Dog’s all “Fuck your science! Let’s get this guy dead as soon as possible!” and lets a vengeful citizen do the wet work for him while he covers for her! Justice? More like “just us”… best of luck explaining that one to yourself, because I’m foggier than The Fog on it, myself. Just random words!

The movie wraps with Barbara attending Manuel’s burial in the pouring rain (and wearing all black, so she’s clearly mourning her admissible retaliation), with the aftertext telling us that the real life Romasanta story played out much the same as what we just saw. The few exceptions being that his alleged accomplice Antonio was never found and Manuel was originally given a death sentence until Dr. Phillips petitioned the Queen to convert it to life in prison instead, due to his suffering from Lycanthropy. While he was awaiting a full pardon, though, Romasanta died in prison of “unknown causes”. The admirable dedication to the reality of the tale is no surprise, since script writer Alfredo Conde also wrote the fictional novel, The Uncertain Memoirs of a Galician Wolfman: Romasanta. Oh yeah, Conde’s also a descendant of one of the doctors involved in the original “Werewolf of Allariz” court case that took place in 1853/54 in Galicia, Spain! That’s some seriously cool pedigree to have for your “based on a true story” horror movie.

Before Romasanta, I thought Dagon was the only greatness to wade from the tar pit of bad-to-mediocre known as Fantastic Factory. But now? Holy shit. We’ve got a new #1 contender. As such, Dagon and Romasanta will be battling it out in a steel cage surrounded by jackals inside of a flaming steel cage surrounded by crocodiles for the Fantastic Factory Undisputed Championship Title! Or they can just share the awesome and serve as co-ambassadors for the non-existent campaign to bring the Factory back. Hell, Brian Yuzna’s been up to pretty much nothing since their doors closed, so we know he’s free! Now, where can we dig up a few millions dollars?

Aside from a plot hole here and there, an unanswered question or two, the story is good. I would’ve preferred more of a mystery with the whole thing, but the tale of Manuel and Barbara is a good one. It technically counts as a romance too, so next time your marital relations partner(s) want to watch something romantic, try and slip this into the rotation. It’s like a finger in the ass – you won’t know for sure until you try! However, if it doesn’t work the first time, don’t try it again. You might not get your finger (or DVD) back.

Paco Plaza’s direction is appropriately fantastic, no pun intended. As stated prior, PP (huh huh) makes this under the radar period piece look like something double its budget. There’s a single transformation scene (a flashback as told by Antonio) where we watch wolf Manuel turn back into his human form and it’s an excellent sequence. All practical effects, decidedly slimy “shedding your second skin” moment, cool “paws become hands” stuff, and a simple but effective beginning where the canine’s fur just washes off in chunks in the rain. My compliments to the chef(s)!

As far as the casting goes, I have no complaints about anyone involved, and nothing but praise for Miss Pataky. I was expecting Julian Sands to be the only standout in a cast of people I’d never heard of, but she was so likeable and intense and dramatic and DAMN was she good! To paraphrase Roger in Dawn of the Dead, she got this by the ASS! One of the review blurbs I read after watching referred to it as a “performance making role”, and I’m inclined to throw my thumbs up in agreement. She’s since become a reoccurring character in the last three Fast & Furious movies, so though I’ll never watch them, I’m happy to know that she’s making big fat Hollywood franchise money for her talents. Julian Sands definitely fits the title role because he’s handsome enough to be a ladykiller, but also has a nose that helps you believe this dude’s face elongates into a muzzle from time to time. He still pulls off the seductive thing in his advanced age too, so all the more reason he lives up to the part. His performance is pretty non-assuming for the most, but when it comes time for him to really get into the crazy, he definitely makes it a spectacle! Everyone else earns their paychecks and I had nothing to complain about. A backhanded praise to some, but believe me, a perfectly serviceable cast is a rare thing considering how bad some of the ensembles in prior Factory flicks turned out.

I’m REALLY happy I didn’t wait to do an episode on this one. It’s a slasher movie disguised as a werewolf flick done as a character study. Really well made, well acted, and if it weren’t for the disjointed story moments and sometimes inconsistent pacing, I’d say it was due for a golden feather. As is though, I’ll gladly give it a well-deserved 4 out of 5!

Next time I’ll be getting back on track with the World Tour de Farce. Where will I go and what will I see? The surprise is part of the fun! Until then, be sure to check out the other Adult Onset Lycanthropy reviews that the Celluloid Zeroes have in store for you! Keep those silver bullets warm and always carry some Wolfsbane in your socks, trucker fuckers! Don’t wanna get caught solajwf (shit outta luck and jolly well fucked). Ciao!


3B Theater: Micro-Brewed Reviews – Curse of the Black Widow
Checkpoint Telstar – The Bat People
Cinemasochist Apocalypse – Kibakichi
Las Peliculas de Terror – The Evil Within
Psychoplasmics – An American Werewolf in London
The Terrible Claw Reviews – Sssssss
Web of the Big Damn Spider – Summer School

Moral of the Story: In the 1850s, hypnosis and acupuncture were all the “psychiatric treatment” that the mentally ill needed. Meanwhile, “DNA evidence” was based on a suspect’s hat size and hand perspiration. Still, it’s slightly more scientific than the method of the modern day American justice system: basing a culprit’s guilt on their skin color and/or religious beliefs.

Screenshots_____

“Please don’t tell me you’re the Publisher’s Clearing House people! I am NOT TV ready! Can you come back in an hour!?”


Surgeon General’s Warning: NEVER eat an entire box of Gushers Fruit Snacks on your own. There’s just too much fruit juicy flavor for one person.


Oh great, now that my cousin Scratch has had a cameo in a movie we’ll never hear the end of it at Cthulhumas. No surprise though, he always was the “looker” of the pack.


Looks like the local Chinese buffet is stocking up on “beef” for the weekend rush.


“Ladies! Ladies! Please stop fighting! There’s enough Mr. Ed for the both of you!”


“ARGH! DAMN IT, TERESA! I TOLD YOU NOT TO LEAVE YOUR LEGOS LAYING AROUND ON THE FLOOR ANYMORE!”


“…and so, gentlemen of this tribunal, in the case of “Who Smelt It v. Who Dealt It”, I give you your smeller AND dealer!”


“Your neck is so beautiful, so long, so… uggh! What is that, a skin tag?! Gross. You should have that burned off. It looks infected!”


“Why?! Why would you think I’d want to see nude photos of Carrot Top bathing in tapioca pudding?! I have a child here for God’s sake!”


He looks exactly how I feel after I’ve been touching raw chicken skin. Like one of King Kong’s loogies, or the guest of honor at a kaiju bukkake party. Uggh!


Ah, the all too familiar morning after moment of “What did I do last night?!” mixed with “I am NEVER doing Jägerbombs again!”.


“Look, I’m sorry I jumped to the conclusion that you’re only angry because you’re on your period, but… I mean… well… aren’t you on your period?!”


I know that look well. That’s the look my Evil Dead Bride gives me when we’ve had a fight, I make a really dumb joke, and she tries her best to stifle the laugh so she doesn’t lose the “angry upperhand”. She always laughs though… except that one time… I really miss my left testicle.


“With my new invention, the cranium re-sizerator, men and women need never worry about their hats being too small or too large again! Their skull will always be the perfect size!”

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Anubis will return next time in
“Complex Problems”

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

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

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Feature 20 – Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies (2012)

or “The Great Emancipator (of Heads)”


Featuring: 
Bill “Krampus the Christmas Devil” Oberst Jr. , Jason “Gut” Vail , Baby “Just Go 4 It” Norman

Director:  Richard “A Diva’s Christmas Carol” Schenkman

Writers:  Karl “Karl’s In a Coma” Hirsch , J. Lauren Proctor , Richard “A Diva’s Christmas Carol” Schenkman

Origin: USA

Review_____

A man divided against himself cannot stand.”

“Hey, if you want me to take a dump in a box and mark it guaranteed, I will. I got spare time.” We all remember that brilliant line from Tommy Boy, delivered by the late and (sometimes) great Chris Farley. Well, if The Asylum were ever in the market for a fitting motto, there it is. Change the “me” to “us”, the “I”s to “we”s, and you’ve got a pretty apt description of their mission statement. If anybody reading this happens to work at the Sticky’s All-You-Can-Eat Pizza Hole and Waste Management Facility where the Asylum big wigs hold their board meetings, float that out there like a morning turd in the toilet bowl. I promise that at least one of them will offer you a job in their marketing division!

When I announced to my friends that I’d be reviewing today’s guaranteed dump (originally intended to be reviews for President’s Day until, well, I didn’t), everyone who knew what I was talking about replied that they’d turned it off at varying points in the running time. Not only did NO ONE make it to the end credits (fun bit of irony for a horror movie), but the general consensus of tolerance levels were in the 20-30 minute range. Was there a particular “ground zero” moment that drove these viewers in droves to hit the Stop button and walk away, or was it a steady poisoning of their systems and 20-30 minutes of such contamination was the point of saturation? This isn’t just a movie review now…this is science!

This bucket of bowel movements is Asylum’s rip-off of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Rather than being based on a book though, ALvZ is based on a crumpled napkin an Asylum writer found sitting in the alley behind his basement apartment. Encrusted with the remnants of cheap margaritas and even cheaper tacos, it no doubt fell out of the dumpster belonging to the Tex-Mex restaurant under which he lived. Amidst the multi-colored stains, some scribblings that may or may not have stated “steal both” baffled the alleged scribe, until he looked to his coffee table. Seeing a copy of “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” he’d borrowed from a friend sitting next to a DVD of Curse of the Cannibal Confederates given to him by his parents as a high school graduation present, a new Asylum feature was born. In a bit of personal experimentation, rather than have a shred of hope that ALvZ is going to be anything but the standard issue Asylum carnival of stupid, I went into this viewing with my expectations squarely in the john. Then I remembered that, again, this is a fucking Asylum movie, so I took my expectations out of the nice porcelain pot they were bobbing in, and instead tossed them into the infamous crapper from the pub in Trainspotting. Perfect. Now, as Dr. Clayton Forrester would say, let the experiment…BEGIN!

…oh poopy.

Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves, united the states, taught himself to read with a shovel (or something), and wrestled bears…though as more is uncovered about the secret life of our 16th president, those “bears” may be more in line with the gay community’s definition than Wild America’s. One of the things not covered in his illustrious upbringing is the apparent 1818 boyhood trauma of his mother’s transformation…into a zombie(!)…after she was attacked by them in the forest(!)…because…reasons!? Whatever brought this about, Abe’s dad couldn’t muster the gumption to kill his zombie wife, so he put a bullet in his own brain instead (great parenting, asshole, leaving your kids alone with a ghoul for a mom), tasking young Abe with the duty of decapitating dear mother Nancy himself. He did so with a scythe, which just supports my lifelong plan to live near farm country, providing me plenty of tool sheds and shotguns to pilfer when the zombiegeddon finally gets its lazy ass in gear.

We jump ahead to the summer of 1863. The year James Plimpton patented the four-wheeled roller skate, the first underground train opened in London, and Thomas Crapper invents the one-piece pedestal flushing toilet. Spoiler alert: that last one is an incredibly appropriate piece of info for what’s about to happen here. Meanwhile, The American Civil War rages on as Southerners fight for the right to continue claiming black people as tax-exempt property. Abe’s all grown up and Presidential, in charge of keeping the nation in one piece. He’s also become Bill Oberst, who’s locked in perpetual Lloyd Bridges mode for the extent of the movie. An important lynchpin to winning the war of gray vs. blue is capturing and maintaining the strategic point of Fort Polaski and controlling the Mississippi River. But, after sending a regiment to take Polaski under the banner of “Operation Big Shanty”, only one soldier returned alive…and his skin’s looking grayer than Robert E. Lee’s Sunday best. No sooner does he report to President Lincoln that Big Shanty went FUBAR due to a contingency of flesh eating maniacs residing in the fort, he then turns into one of the man munching monsters himself. Having had experience with the not-so-demised before (Mommy Mommy, choppy choppy), Lincoln fends off the zombie until a lackey can retrieve his trusty folding scythe from his carriage…that he just happens to carry with him…despite having never seen another zombie in the 45 years since relieving his mother’s use for bonnets…okay.

The president’s new “secret service” team is assembled to clear out and reclaim Polaski to both swing the Civil War in the Union’s favor and wipe out the living dead scourge before it can spread like so much shit water from the clogged toilet in a Taco Bell bathroom. They really need to put limits on the amount of food one customer can order. Unless they’re getting it “to go”, in which case they can put their own crapper in jeopardy. Let’s just say I’ve heard horror stories and will never be able to look at a Taco Bell Party Pack again without igniting my gag reflex. Blart. Anyway, when the Major assigned to lead the group is killed by the ghoul, Abe appoints himself the new leader of the task force, citing his “prior experience” with the disease as his leading asset…because just telling a new leader that the disease is spread through bites, and that the only way to kill them is decapitation or burning them would waste valuable time…and because I guess he figured Andrew Johnson was gonna replace him eventually anyway!

Proving that he practiced what he preached, Lincoln’s Suicide Squad (or “Task Force X” if you’re nerd enough) includes one black agent, who could only be given a position on a top secret operation due to the potential political controversy if the public knew their government employed a black man. Hence the term “black op” was born, and the rest is made-up history that you school-aged readers probably shouldn’t reference for any history reports. Also, the black dude’s there so he can bring the term “zombie” into the mix later on, given the term’s Haitian origin, and lay out the irony of enslaved people owning slaves themselves, albeit dead ones. The Abe Brigade also includes an interesting member that eventually leads to one of the solitary good kernels of corn in this shit log of a crap-ass cash-in effort, so I won’t spoil who it is. All I’ll say is that it adds an interesting re-visioning to the President’s ill-fated future as an unsuccessful theater critic. If you want to find out the mystery prize in this box of Cocoa Poops though, you’ll have to earn it yourself and bury your hands in up to the elbows. Whether it’s worth the challenge to your tolerance levels will vary from person to person, but let me remind you–-I’m the only person I know who actually saw this cinematic skid mark through to its dingle-berry bedazzled end.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself here, when I’d much rather be getting myself head. Wakka wakka! Lincoln leads his logs (not an actual joke, just a needless pun) to Polaski, and with the exception of a few fodder agents who end up as bite victims, the good guys do well at clearing out the shuffling maggot manufactories, mostly thanks to Mr. Lincoln and his newly revealed deadly arts of leap-‘n’-slash-fu. I really need to commission Osiris for one of those short-arm folding blade scythes. It’d shave much needed hours off of my reaping schedule and leave me with a lot more time to review… Asylum… movies… fuuuuuuuuuuck. Never mind. Securing the fort (which was mostly secure already, until Lincoln’s men attracted zombies into the place with their gunfire), the Secret Service finds a small group of Rebels holed up in the basement, led by famed southern military strategist General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. Not to be confused with county music man Stonewall Jackson, who sang “Waterloo” and “BJ the DJ” (not about what its title implies), though that was the musicians real name and he did claim to be a descendant of the original. Everyone immediately thinks I’m related to David Bowie despite how we spell and pronounce our last names differently. I do like to sometimes claim that Tandy Bowen (Dagger of “Cloak & Dagger”) is my cousin though, despite the fact that she’s a completely fictional character… plus I’d feel really gross for doing the knuckle shuffle to someone who’s actually my cousin… and don’t bring up the irony of how the Egyptian mythological pantheon was full of incest anyway. That was a different time, and I’m not about to take the “racist grandparents” excuse and chalk it up to being “from a different time”. Cork it.

Stonewall (and his HUGE, super fake, glued-on beard) surrenders himself and his remaining men to Lincoln’s Logs (just let me have this!), but refuses to agree with the president that the soldiers and civilians he just got done beheading were necessary casualties. Stoney PlayStation 4 (okay, that one was just to boost search engine hits, I’ll cop) is convinced that the recently diseased/deceased are just in need of medical treatment, and Honest Abe’s just a murder happy maniac looking to take out his “reverse racism” hate on the slavery lovin’ southerners. This from a time period where a shot-off toe resulted in a full leg amputation for fear of the spread of gangrene, yet this knob thinks that a ravenous full-body cannibal infection can somehow be fixed with snake oil and coal water. Must be all that inbreeding. Sorry to offend any southern readers, but stop breeding with your kin. If we deities can help ourselves, so can you, damn it. You just have to want to. If nothing else, do it for the sideshow of tormented offspring you would’ve conceived that would one day grow up to turn on you and burn you all alive in your trailer to wipe the blight of your broken genetic legacy from the face of the Earth. Long-term investments, Cletus.

Fun fact: the name Cletus/Cleatus is of Greek origins, and means “illustrious”. Meanwhile, the modernized definition would be “slack jawed yokel” or “football playing robot that murdered the Burger King”.

Locking the uncooperative grays up, the blues secure the fort in typical zombie movie DIY style. In the basement they find and are overrun by a gaggle of hungry corpses. While escaping into an already boarded up section of the fort, they find another small group of survivors. Shit, this has to be one of the biggest speaking casts for an Asylum movie EVER…which would explain why they all act about as well as a real movie’s background extras. Anyway, this new group is led, conveniently enough, by Abe’s prostitute ex-girlfriend Mary Owens (played by the unfortunately named Baby Norman), and includes a young boy from New York who was separated from his family and ended up there during the outbreak. I won’t spoil who the boy is, but let’s just say that Abe encourages him to avoid attracting the zombies by speaking in a soft tone, and defend himself from them with the use of a sizable length of timber. And yes, if you have a basic knowledge of American political history (or you too watched that Bugs Bunny cartoon where he ran for office opposite Yosemite Sam), your brain probably just vomited acid all over itself in a desperate bid for oblivion too.

Okay, so we’ve got the zombie movie staples all in play – a group of survivors with conflicting viewpoints, both moral and political, some of whom share a rocky personal past, all of which are trapped together in a confined space while a seemingly endless mob of extras in halfway decent Halloween costumes shamble around outside, waiting to pick off the slow, impatient, and unlucky over the next 45 minutes or so. It’s like some big metaphor for the war itself, or humanity itself, or the 1600 or so living dead movies that came before it themselves. Will Abe be able to bring these opposing factions of uninfected together before their so-called “moralities” lead them all to losing their own heads, figuratively at first, then literally afterward? Will you care enough to find out? If nothing else, I suggest firing it up on Netflix and fast-forwarding to the last 10 minutes. That way you can get the whimsical ending and avoid all of the stupid shit the self-proclaimed “writers” culled from a junior high American History textbook to denigrate into goofy characters and bastardized action movie one-liners.

Being an Asylum secretion, watching ALvZ is like juggling a half-dozen water balloons full of diarrhea: you know you’re gonna get shit all over you, and the best you can hope for is that none of it’s infected with anything more dangerous than a level 6 gross-out contamination, and that you lose nothing more than a ruined outfit and a bit of self-esteem. The shit balloon bursts all over us with computer generated blood, dismemberment, explosions, and gun flashes (because squibs and blanks aren’t “cost effective”). We also get splattered with a bleached out visual filter to either push the impression that the movie takes place in olden times, or just helps cover up the sloppy CG gore. (Not to be confused with AD Gore, proprietor of satans-sideshow.com, who supplied much of my wardrobe in high school.) Also running down our faces and pooling in our pockets are Asylum’s staples: bad acting (no surprise), bad script (also no surprise), bad audio (I had to watch it with subtitles on so I wouldn’t have to wear out the volume buttons on my remote), bad lighting (to further cover up the bad CG effects), and bad dance-fight choreography of Lincoln jumping around like the world’s oldest action hero (minus Schwarzenegger and Stallone, who’re both older than the secret sex dungeon under the Appomattox courthouse). It’s all silly. Not a fun silly, but a hemorrhoid silly…because it’s uncomfortable… and itchy…and I don’t fucking know! You try writing something even remotely witty while some F-grade movie hacks’ weekend of work farts in your face!

Aside from the ending, the only thing that saves this movie from total damnation in Ammut’s cornhole is Oberst’s oddly decent portrayal of Lincoln. Sure, the goofy scythe-fu stuff can cause aneurisms if viewed for too long without proper protection, and the painful out-of-context historical quotes turned one-liners could lacerate kidneys, and if you close your eyes you’d swear Admiral Benson was about to tell you about how he lost his eyes to a bazooka round at Little Big Horn (or was it Okinawa?), but when Oberst actually gets to make inspirational speeches like the Great Emancipator was known for, he’s pretty damn effective. Not exactly Bill Pullman’s speech from Independence Day, or Raymond Burr’s ending soliloquy from Godzilla 1985, but if Billy O can bring even a sliver of credence to a shit cauldron like Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies, then the dude deserves his Daytime Emmy Award…though that’s like winning a gold medal at the Special Olympics, so don’t put too much credence in my use of the word “credence”.

By the way, if the amount of fecal and/or toilet allusions in this review seem like a bit much to you, you should really stop expecting better of me. When dealing with an Asylum production, a reviewer becomes the sewage treatment plant worker of the movie criticism field – knee deep in waste matter for the length of the effort. It’s a minor miracle if we can keep from killing ourselves after the first few times on the job, let alone just swearing off them for life. Reviewers of Asylum movies are like Ed Norton (the character, not the actor), except our best friends aren’t spousal abusers (hopefully) and we lack the televised medium to benefit from slapstickery and goofy voices, so we’re stuck relying on whatever creative writing we can muster. Forgive me if the majority of creative metaphors I can come up with are shit related, but once you’ve got an Asylum feature’s stench saturating your every pore and follicle, it’s hard to think of much else. I need a heavy dose of anti-venom (viewings of Re-Animator or Return of the Living Dead usually do the trick) just to keep me out of a coma.

That said (with about 50 more words than needed), it’s all the more upsetting that our next episode will be ANOTHER Asylum feature! Has my cinemasochism reached new, dangerous heights from which no sane man or man-dog deity can possibly return unscathed?! Gird your loins and girdle your lions (if you have any) and tune in for what’s bound to be another 5 pages of furious/flaccid shit slinging! Same Anubis time, same Anubis channel! *ONOMATOPOEIA!*

Moral of the Story: The Confederate flag is no longer the most offensive hold over from the American Civil War.

Screenshots_____

I see the guy responsible for the title graphics hasn’t figured how “stroke” or “highlight” works on text layers. At least make the blood a lighter tone than the damn words!


Kids, if your father looks like this every time he tries to shave, do NOT let him teach you how when you hit puberty.


You know The Asylum’s hit big money time when they can afford enough Miller High Life to pay that many Civil War reenactment actors.


“You might wanna pull it back a little on the buttons, soldier. You’re not Steve Harvey.”


“I’m sorry Mr. President. I understand that you want to bring an end to this war, but I’m Santa Claus! I can’t withhold presents from the good Confederate children on Christmas just because you think it will stop the bloodshed!”


“Hey Jackson, what do you call a thousand coloreds at the bottom of the ocean?”
“If you finish that statement, I will kill you now and seduce your wife at your funeral.”
“… Sorry. I didn’t know you were so ‘politically correct’.”


Lincoln’s got his “serious business” stovepipe on. If this were a Robert Rodriguez movie, that thing would be full of pistols and dynamite.


Dear Isis, no! They killed Chris Elliot! Now we’ll never get another season of “Eagleheart“! You bastards!


The Asylum’s poor spending of the lighting budget to buy more zombie makeup ends up working in our favor by obscuring EVERYTHING. If only all of their movies could be shot by lantern light!


“You may be a high ranking General, but I’m the fucking president! NO ONE gets to have a bigger beard than mine, damn it! Shave it off, or I’ll rip it from your god damned jaw myself!”


Is he doing his Edward G. Robinson impression, or is he trying to eat an entire sandwich in one mouthful? History may never know.


“I’m no doctor, ladies, but I think the best thing to stop my bleeding wound would be to plug it with your ample boobs. Boob fat is very malleable and would mold to the shape of the wound. But… you know… if you want me to just bleed to death on your floor, I guess you don’t have to.”


“And what’s the deal with this Mason-Dixon Line anyway? I mean, who are these people?! Am I right?! Thank you, you’ve been a terrible audience. Remember to tip your waitress.”


They’re trying not to look at his dollar store mustache, otherwise they’ll laugh and the producers will make them pay for the re-shoot.


I’m no lumberjack, Beard-O, but I’m pretty sure that’s not how you hold a hatchet…


Michael Cera’s creepy dad scrapes a booger from a sleeping woman’s face.

Anubis will return next time in
“The Sixty Dollar Man”

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

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

Bill “Krampus the Christmas Devil” Oberst Jr. , Jason “Gut” Vail , Baby “Just Go 4 It” Norman