Feature 49 – American Psycho (2000)

or “Scum Yuppies Must Die!”

Featuring: Christian “Batman Begins” Bale , Willem “Spider-Man” Dafoe , Jared “Suicide Squad” Leto

Director: Mary “I Shot Andy Warhol” Harron

Writers: Mary “I Shot Andy Warhol” Harron , Guinevere “BloodRayne” Turner

Origin: USA

Sequel: American Psycho 2

Review_____

“Don’t just stare at it, EAT IT!”

Oh my Elder Gods, this movie. Apologies for taking yet another detour from the World Tour de Farce, but this month marks the 15th anniversary of the release of American Psycho. I fucking love American Psycho. A decade-and-a-half ago, 4 months into a long distance relationship with this evil 17 year old from a far away land (I was only 18, so put down your torches), my Evil Dead Bride-to-Be and yours truly had been highly anticipating this amazing looking cerebral slasher flick summation of the infamous ‘80s materialism obsession. In those tormenting times when we could only see each other once a month (she was my period and her period was, well, her period), we had to plan rest breaks in our coital merrymaking, so going to the movies would help prevent us from injuring ourselves. This is the first such feature from that time that I can do a proper review for, so…here it is!

I didn’t read American Psycho until after seeing the movie, so I was in no way ahead of the curve on this one. The only inkling I’d even had of the subject was the 1997 Misfits album of the same name (fuck you Fallout Boy, you shunty ass-butts!), which was the first release sans Danzig and, thus, the last Misfits album I’d ever listen to. My Evil Dead Mother-In-Law had read the dark and twisted tale by Bret Easton Ellis, but couldn’t finish it after the infamous rat chapter…which meant I had to see what the fuss was aboot. I was nonplussed by the graphic descriptions of genital mutilation, but I’m inured to that kinda shit anyway. I have no soul. Unless you show me those videos of animals from different species playing around like friends. Those hit me in the joy buzzer. I thought Ellis’ writing was fantastic though! Not an opinion I deja vued when I tried to read Less Than Zero, but that might’ve just been due to a disdain for spoiled dickbag preppie college kids.

Hey! This isn’t a friggin’ stupid book club, damn it! This is a friggin’ stupid movie review site, damn it! Get on with it, damn it!

The time is 1987. The place is Wall Street. Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) is obsessed with his job at the firm of Pierce & Pierce. Actually, no, he’s not. He doesn’t do a lick of “work” throughout the entire running time of this movie! Sure, he spends hours each day occupying his office space (“Somebody stole my stapler…”), but all he actually does is dress down his secretary, do the New York Times crossword (very poorly), and doodle in his date book. No, Patty’s true obsession is having the best clothes, the smoothest skin, the slightly-better-than-his-peer’s haircut, the deepest understanding of ‘80s pop music, eating at the upperest crust restaurants in New York City and wanting women to ask him what he does for a living so he has an excuse to brag. He’s the anthropomorphizing of the “gimme gimme” decade, and he’s climbing to the top of the high society food chain, populated by his fellow worshippers at the alter of the almighty dollar (AKA “the alighty ollar”). In the land of yuppie royalty, he’s Claudius, plotting his ascension through the disposal of those that stand in his way, dreaming of the day he’ll sit in his throne atop a pile of corpses in Armani suits, their blood smeared Rolexi glinting in the golden beams of his all consuming ego. How all-consuming? He’s the kind of guy who’ll go balls deep in a pair of $500/hr call girls, then just spend the whole time checking himself out in the mirror.

That wasn’t a joke.

When the sun goes does down, this wolf of Wall Street goes full lycanthrope (figuratively), as his world of mergers and acquisitions turns into a waking nightmare of murders and executions. Beneath his Gordon Gecko exterior lurks a bloodthirsty Norman Bates, man! Get it? “Bates, man”? Bateman? Well, if you haven’t picked up on it yet, don’t over grind those gears in your noggin. I wouldn’t want your ears to start throwin’ sparks and risk catching my collection of oily rags aflame. The smoke alarms are all dead because I never replaced the batteries after my last “let’s put 9 volts on our tongues!” party, and I’ve yet to flush the ichor out of the sprinklers following that vampire Ishtar-Easter rave I rented out The Tomb for a few weeks ago. I know, vampire raves are so ’99, but who am I to say no to a dance floor full of topless wanna-be Bathorys showered in gore? Exactly…and for no reason at all, now I can’t imagine the name “Bathory” without it being shouted in the manner of Metallica’s “Battery”.

Where was I? Oh yeah, Bath-o-ry. I mean, oh yeah, Bateman.

At his core, Patrick Bateman is a man that wants to fit in and be liked by his associates, so he gives up any sense of self-identity in his efforts to do so. He appreciates “Hip to Be Square” because of its message of the pleasures of conformity, further convincing himself that being a faceless clone is the way to go. We’ve all felt that need to be accepted by a group at one time or another. They used to make socially conscious scare films about it in the ’50s, warning kids not to join gangs and break windows just because they want to be popular, instead recommending they volunteer at the retirement home or get their heads blown off in the Army instead. For me, the need to fit in is past tense, because once I realized humanity is mostly refuse not worth the gasoline and frozen orange juice concentrate needed to napalm it into oblivion (“Hello, oblivion!”), my desire to fit in died faster than a fetus on a coat hanger. Unfortunately for Pat, he lives in a world of sociopaths. They’re all like mannequins: interchangeable nothing entities that are judged solely on the things they wear and the places they’re seen. Every sentence of his narration, Pat name-drops some highbrow product or exclusive restaurant because he has to constantly tell you (and himself) about how great the life he struggles to maintain is. That grappling to keep his mask of normalcy in place is worth not being who he really is…not that he’d probably know who that is at this point. Even his relationships with his girlfriend Evelyn (Reese Witherspoon) and his mistress Courtney (Samantha Mathis) are equally as hollow – socialite Ev is just there to up Pat’s status, while Courtney’s just a Xanax Xombie vessel for him to do a pump & dump into when he feels like it. As he himself tells us, he has no emotions but greed and disgust. Hell, following a scene where he can barely contain his impotent rage over how everyone else has a better business card than he does (we’re the only ones who realize they’re all the same), he stabs a homeless man (Reg “Marcus from Airheads!” Cathey) to death, then stomps the guy’s dog. It’s both horrific and pathetic.

There may be hope for Bater’s salvation in his previously alluded to secretary Jean (Chloe Sevigny), who seems to see something worthwhile in Patrick. Maybe she’s just naive, or maybe her innocence and her separation from the yuppie social life is what’s appealing about her. Whatever the case, Patrick can’t bring himself to kill her…though he comes realllllly close on a date before sending her home. Like, “nail gun to the back of her head for almost getting sorbet on his coffee table” close. Instead, our hero(?) opts to vent his urges on more deserving fare – his lady friend Elizabeth (Guinevere Turner – the screenplay’s co-writer!) and a hooker (Cara Seymour), both of whom can be excused. We all have friends we’d like to decapitate sooner or later, after all. As for the hooker, she had a sleepover with Patrick prior that ended with her going to an emergency room, in need of some reconstructive surgery (use your imagination) and fearing for her life. But when he comes back to her corner and flashes a wad of cash? She hops into the limo and goes home with him for round 2! You know how important money will be to you if you’re not alive to spend it? NOT AT ALL. It’s not fucking rocket surgery! Just another testament to how little some people value everything else in the face of their green paper god.

Speaking of, the absurdity of the 1% portrayed here is hilarious. Business cards (more later), cuisine that sounds like something people in an alternate dimension from a “Twilight Zone” episode would eat, those Zack Morris cells that make military field phones from ‘Nam look more convenient, and CD players from a time when only the five richest kings of Europe could afford them. Those last two have probably already been the subject of one of those dumbass videos where teenagers from today look at them like 4 year-olds given a particle accelerator. “Durrrrr! Old things are confusing! I have no cognizance of things existing prior to my birth!” BLART!

Throughout his blood soaked escapades, the only Bateman victim that anyone gives a fuck about is his high-profile rival at P&P, Paul Allen (Jared Leto). Infuriated that Paul’s able to get reservations at Dorsia (apparently it’s yuppie El Dorado), his constant mistaking of Patrick for fellow P&P cookie-cutter clone Marcus Halberstram and his business card being so much better than Pat’s to the point of emasculation (Bale’s performance here is scary good). He plots to take the guy out to a shithole restaurant (no risk of peer witnesses), get him drunk, then invite him back to his place to listen to some Huey Lewis, while our dapper death dealer expunges the finer points of The News and disposes of Paul’s need for, well, anything that involves a head. It’s here, and in some similar scenes later, where I start to think that Patrick missed his calling as a music critic…or he just spends way too much time on the shitter reading reviews in “Rolling Stone”. Either way, he butchers his associate with an axe while shouting, “Try getting a reservation at Dorsia now, you fucking stupid bastard!”.

Despite doing his best to cover up the casual slaughter (by taking measures to make it seem Paul had to make a last minute trip to London), Allen’s girlfriend Meredith still reports him missing. It’s not long before NYPD Detective Donald Kimball (Willem Dafoe) follows a trail of breadcrumbs to the office door of one Master Bateman (*wink*wink*).

Kimball is a great performance by Dafoe, not only because the guy’s a top notch thespian (insert cliched joke about how “thespian” sounds kinda like “lesbian” here), but because Mary Harron had him read his lines in 3 different contexts – Kimball thinking Bateman was innocent, thinking he might’ve done it, and thinking he was guilty as OJ. The three sets of takes were then chopped up and edited together as such that audiences couldn’t read which way he was leaning. The first time I saw this, I thought it might’ve just been unbalanced acting on Dafoe’s part, looking to pick up a paycheck and get home in time to watch “Wheel of Fortune” while he fucked a TV dinner. When I learned the truth, it made a lot more sense. It’s a great reflection of Patrick’s paranoid perception of their exchanges, as you see our titular psycho start to sweat and panic just shy of becoming that nervous guy in cartoons who pulls on his collar so hard that his neck turns an acute angle.

According to Kimball, several people in Bateman’s social circle commented on how they’d seen or spoken to Paul while he’s been in London. The first time I saw this, I thought that Patrick had just fantasized about all of the terrible things he’d done and there was never any actual bloodshed. Having seen it several times since, I’m convinced that the murders really did happen, only nobody noticed because they all live in a constant state of head-up-their-own-ass-ity. Paul Allen’s identity is actually questioned in several scenes, as Patrick’s companions mistake one person or another for Allen. Once again, an attestation to the sameness of every a-hole on the stretch between Broadway and South. There’s also the possibility that Patty himself may be the one suffering a case of mistaken identity, but if that were the case, Paul’s girlfriend probably wouldn’t have reported him missing.

Amidst all this, there are two great scenes that revolve around the bizarre business card obsession these maniacs have. The first is the previously mentioned exchange of Allen “winning” the dick measuring contest of who has the better card amid his fellow Piercers. The second involves Courtney’s fiance Luis (Matt Ross, looking like the bastard spawn of Lyle Lovett and Pippi Longstocking), as he tempts Bateman’s ire at lunch by nonchalantly showing everyone his new card, whose “perfection” pushes Pat over the edge faster than Thelma and Louise in a ’66 Thunderbird. When our lunatic tries to strangle Luis in the men’s room after, Luis thinks Patty’s just being aggressively flirtatious and responds by making passionate mouth foreplay with the murderer’s hand! The resulting confusion and revulsion from Bate-and-switch is hilarious, but rather than continue with what would be a hate crime by today’s standards (or “AIDS prevention” by the medieval logic of the Reagan era), Pat washes his gloves and leaves the restaurant in a huff, citing his usual excuse of needing to “return some videotapes”. Easy money says it’s porn or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, since that seems to be all he ever watches. Still my favorite way to say goodbye to people, even years after that sentence no longer means anything.

Eventually, Patrick finally just loses it and tosses his metaphorical mask of sanity into the nearest metaphorical toilet. He goes on a rampage, gunning random strangers down left and right. His body count includes an old lady, a doorman, a janitor and several policemen before he finally escapes. Despite evading capture, he picks up a phone and calls Howard, his lawyer, then leaves a confession on the ambulance chaser’s answering machine about all of the atrocities he’s committed (most of which didn’t make it onscreen)! The next morning, after flipping out on Jean from a payphone, Patrick meets his cohorts like he does every day, as if NOTHING HAPPENED. Here he runs into Howie, and their confrontation only results in a case of mistaken identity, where Patrick’s advocate confuses him for someone else entirely and thinks the whole phone message was a joke! He cites Bateman as being too spineless and dorky to ever pull off something like a killing spree! As Patrick says himself, “this confession has meant nothing”, and it’s then that our antagonistic protagonist realizes there’s no escape from the numb and pointless existence he’s tried so hard to be a part of. You’d almost feel sorry for the guy if he hadn’t tried to feed a stray cat to an ATM machine…

You know what, I’m just gonna post his entire ending monologue here because just saying “this confession has meant nothing” doesn’t do it a lick of justice… also, “Lick of Justice” sounds like an all oral fetish porn where everyone’s dressed in police uniforms and judges’ robes.

“There are no more barriers to cross. All I have in common with the uncontrollable and the insane, the vicious and the evil, all the mayhem I have caused and my utter indifference toward it I have now surpassed. My pain is constant and sharp, and I do not hope for a better world for anyone. In fact, I want my pain to be inflicted on others. I want no one to escape. But even after admitting this, there is no catharsis; my punishment continues to elude me, and I gain no deeper knowledge of myself. No new knowledge can be extracted from my telling. This confession has meant nothing.”

Getting American Psycho made is your typical tale of a train derailment to Clusterfuck City. Harron left the project when Lions Gate insisted on having Leo DiCaprio star (Lions Gate? Leo DiCaprio? CONSPIRACY!) rather than her original pick of Bale, and they subsequently brought in Oliver Stone to replace her. Stone wanted James Woods to play Kimball, Cameron Diaz as Evelyn, and Elizabeth Berkley as Courtney. But, with Stone’s budget going gaga and Leo leaving to make The Beach instead, Harron and Bale were brought back to make the cheaper (and likely better) film. When it was originally optioned for the cinematic treatment WAY back in ’91, Ellis was actually set to adapt the screenplay himself, Johnny Depp was eyed to play Batey, and Tomb hero Stuart “Re-Animator” Gordon was set to direct! The man who gave life to celluloid Herbert West wanted to stick as closely to the book as possible (which would’ve popped the flick an ‘X’ rating) and planned to shoot the whole shebang in black & white. When that attempt died a painful death, David “Scanners” Cronenberg was pegged to man the camera for a second effort with none other than Brad Pitt lacing up Patrick’s Ferragamos! I wouldn’t ask for either of these as an alternative to Herron and Bale’s final product, but Set DAMN would I love to have both of those version as companion pieces! When CERN finally figures out how to tear open dimensional gateway vaginas into alternate realities, somebody bring me back the Gordon and Cronenberg versions of American Psycho! I’ll even cover the gas money, or boson money, or whatever you need me to pay you! It can be my birthday and Cthulhumas presents for the rest of my life! JUST MAKE THEM HAPPEN!

Anyway, the movie we did get is pretty fucking great! It doesn’t delve too deeply into the more graphic depictions of violence portrayed in the book, but selling an NC-17 movie is near impossible if you hope to make any kind of profit on it. That’s fine by me though, because I’d rather experience the beautiful monster we’re given if it has to be at the expense of not seeing a woman’s cunt torn up by a giant sewer rat who hollows out her pelvis to make a nest. Yes, that happens in the book…or something like it. I don’t know, it’s been 15 years. Fuck off. A friend of mine recently started reading it and complained that all she’s seen so far is some guy talking about designer clothing for 20 pages. I don’t want to spoil the nightmarish “Marquis de Sade on coke” stuff for her, but I may need to before she loses all interest. Now, about that movie…

Harron’s direction is superb. From the illusory pouring of raspberry sauce that the audience initially may mistake for blood, to Bateman’s opening monologue/morning routine going directly into a straight-out-of-an-’80s-movie shot of the NYC skyline serenaded by “Walking On Sunshine”, you know the next hour and a half are going to be damn weirder than your average slasher flick, and maybe, just maybe, more fucking magical than a unicorn & pegasi orgy. The orchestral music is great, and reminds the viewer of the classic stringed tunes of the Psycho soundtrack…or, to a much lesser extent, Richard Band’s mostly copyright-infringing Re-Animator score. Likely not an accident, I’m sure…the Psycho connection, I mean, not Richard Band being a rip-off artist like his brother Charles.

The visual composition of the scenes are so beautifully arranged too, and I’m not the type of digital movie griper to bring attention to artsy shit like that very often. Osiris, it’s all just so slick and pretty. That business card showdown! The sounds of unsheathing swords were used for the guys’ pulling their “weapons” from their holders, and it’s all shot so stuffed to the gills with tension that you’re just waiting for Patrick to start stabbing everyone in the eyes with a letter opener! The death of Christie the hooker is another one of the movie’s iconic highlights, as we’re given the nightmarish vision of a bloody and naked Bates, wearing nothing but sneakers and wielding a chainsaw almost as deadly as the look of complete insanity he’s got on his face. He chases the courtesan through a poorly lit hallway before planting the steely teeth of hungry death into her insides like someone drilling for oil. You know that part in the second episode of Netflix’s “Daredevil” with the bad guy on the stairwell and the fire extinguisher? All I could think of when watching that was Bateman + chainsaw + gravity = dead hooker.

The writing is also top-notch and packed with so much quotable goodness! From dark, insightful, self-actualizations of horrific (in)human nature, to trivia about pop stars and serial killers, to shit that’s just fun to shout at people, there’s something for everyone! Patrick’s running narration helps keep the rhythm of the book and is a constant reminder that this story is Patrick’s and no one else’s – just the way he’d want it. Bale puts on a career making performance. Literally. Despite being told by everyone that playing a scum-ass misogynist serial killer would be the premature burial of his future in Hollywood, he went on to be, well, Batman among other things! Speaking of, was it weird or straight up providence that Elizabeth calls Patrick “Batman” in the book, and the guy who would play Bates in the movie would go on to play fucking Batman in the Chris Nolan trilogy!? And further crazy dicks? Christian Bale’s character brutally murders Jared Leto’s character here. Leto is going to play the Caped Crusader’s jolly nemesis The Joker in the four-color feature, Suicide Squad next year. So, we get to watch Batman ax the Joker to death. Also, for no reason, Willem Dafoe played The Green Goblin in Spider-Man. For further no reason, Reg Cathey will be playing Sue and Johnny’s father, in this summer’s Fantastic Four re-boot… or, if you’re a shit lord in 20th Century Fox’s marketing department, Fant4stic. A testament to how comic books have become a legitimate movie genre over the last 15 years, or just proof that everybody needs to pay their bills and funnybook films are the way to go? Either way, fun facts for my fellow fanboys/girls.

So, yeah, Christian Bale brings Bateman to life. Like Vic Frankenstein with a lightning rod and open access to a cemetery. And after hearing about the other actors that could have played him, I can’t picture anyone other than Bale being Bateman. His line delivery. His facial expressions. The way he inserts violent threats into casual conversation. The way he fake fucks two women while winking at the camcorder and pointing at himself in the mirror. All of it. There were a pair of scenes that I was taken out of the magic by my nose hairs, though. I know PB’s confessions at the end are SUPPOSED to be broken and manic, but I feel Bale goes a little too far off the rails and develops a hankering for the distinct taste of scenery. Not nearly as off-putting as the infamous Batman “tonsils in a rock tumbler” voice (which Bale has made it a point to place the blame for squarely on Nolan), but it does verge on being goofy. Other than that, though, I’m gonna reach into my cliché cookie (like a fortune cookie, just stuffed with cliches) and pull out…“tour de force performance”. Sure. That works. Go with it.

Wanna know more about the Bateman family tree? Check out The Rules of Attraction. Dawson Van Der Beek plays Patrick’s little brother Sean. It’s not as good as American Psycho, but it’s still a solid flick. Also, there’s no serial killing, so its lack of horror/sci-fi/fantasy/action kinda disqualifies it from getting its own episode and thus I won’t be reviewing it. Sorry kids, sometimes you gotta watch movies yourselves.

I’m just a happy camper, rockin’ n’ rollin’, but I gotta return some videotapes. My copy of Full House of 1000 Corpses was due back at Blockbuster in 2007, so it’s time to flatline this episode! You live in fear for the day I finally review American Psycho 2, and we’ll meet back here next time for The Tomb 2.0’s big 50th episode celebration! Which movie will it be? You’ll have to wait and see. Until then, watch this video. If it had a sentient brain and a Social Security Number, I’d adopt it. Later, mutilators!

Moral of the Story: If your friends don’t appreciate your extensive knowledge of serial killer trivia, you need to find some new friends…after you kill the current ones.

Screenshots_____


Gah! This guy looks like a Muppet! Not even a licensed Muppet! He looks like a Made In China Muppet! He’s a Murpitt!


The Hel? Is this The Lone Ranger training for a marathon? Did somebody switch reels/discs/.avis on me?!


See? I knew I wasn’t the only adult who still covers the hairless parts of their body in glue and tries to peel it off in the largest sections possible. I see Patrick’s mastered the “Elmer’s Death Mask”. Kudos to you, Sir.


“I’m sorry, Reese, but I just didn’t think Sweet Home Alabama was very good. No… you know what? It was GARBAGE! It was utter pandering TRASH and I HATE YOU!”


What’s with that hair?! Did he steal it from the set of Heartbeeps? Holy shit… I just made a Heartbeeps reference… I’ll see myself out before everybody starts awkwardly asking what the fuck that is. I was never here.


Ah, the ’80s. When porn wasn’t just parodies of popular TV shows or innuendo titles. When your movie’s called “Inside Lydia’s Ass”, you know what you’re getting.


I applaud Bateman’s patience. I’d probably lose it if the bastard son of Carrot Top and Pee Wee Herman started fondling my pocket square.


This! Showing someone THIS is enough to get your face split open with an ax! Wall Street was fucking Fury Road 30 years ago!


“I turned down every role that came my way because I wanted to keep my schedule open for Airheads 2, and without any work, I ended up here. Adam Sandler has been telling me since 1995 that he was gonna produce Airheads 2! HE PROMISED ME! He told me there’s a script and everything, they’re just tweaking it and I need to hold out a few more weeks! I’m starting to doubt him…”


“Why the slicker? Are you kidding?! When the ladies see this hi-fi setup, there’s going to be a *SPLOOSH* tsunami coming my way!”


“Sorry for my appearance, but you know what they say: a real man loves his woman every day of the month! Haha!”


Is he making reservations at a restaurant, or calling in an air strike?! I wish cell phones were still that big though. I guarantee I wouldn’t have to listen to every asshole at the supermarket shouting their personal conversations if they had to lug one of those monsters around.


Bateman was 25 years ahead of the curve with recording adorable cat antics. Unfortunately, he taped over all of them with snuff films before YouTube would be invented.


“Hey! Does that picture frame look crooked to you? You know what, never mind. I probably should’ve waited till later. Damn coke… but seriously, is it just me or is that fucking frame, like, REALLY crooked?! IT GETS MORE CROOKED THE LONGER I LOOK AT IT! Alright, I’m sorry, but I can’t finish this till I fix that damn frame!”


Did you know Patrick Bateman invented the FlowBee? His was called the BloodFlowBee though… also, it killed you… there were a LOT of lawsuits. It bankrupted him.


“So, can I rely on you to help me with my little spider infestation?”


“Of course, provided you can help me get the bats out of my belfry… permanently! Hahahahahahaha!…. We are talking about teaming-up to kill each others’ nemesi, right?”


“I know I said that whole ‘real men’ comment earlier, but COME ON! When you sneeze it’s like Evil Dead 2 in here! I can’t keep buying new Egyptian cotton sheets EVERY MONTH!”


In Miami, you learn not to look up. Every time you do, THAT is what’s staring back at you from EVERY fire escape. Fucking Florida.


“And THIS is for all the times you insisted on cornering me in the elevator and forced me to make small talk with you! I don’t CARE about your FUCKING grandchildren getting their FUCKING braces off!”


“No… please… please… PLEASE STOP! I just… I just want the internet service… THE INTERNET SERVICE!… NO!… I don’t want 3 free months of 15 different Showtime channels!… no…. no…… NO!….. NOOOOO!…. PLEASE STOP!…. please….. please…. just…. please…. just stop….” *heavy sobbing sounds*

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Anubis will return next time in
“Ghouls’n GearHeads”

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 46 – Pontypool (2008)

or “Radio Ga Ga, Eh?”

Featuring: Stephen “Shoot ‘Em Up” McHattie , Lisa “Ejecta” Houle , Georgina “Eddie: the Sleepwalking Cannibal” Reilly

Director: Bruce “Roadkill” McDonald

Writer: Tony “Septic Man” Burgess

Origin: Canada

Review_____

“I feel like I’m living in the basement of the world.”

Welcome to the first installment of my 25 part (give or take) series, “World Tour de Farce 2015”! Every episode will basically involve my ignorant American self (Egyptian godhood aside) traversing international bad cinema in an effort to make myself a more cultured Death God… and maybe expand my brand on a global scale into heretofore untapped markets, exploiting my core competencies with an eye towards productivity and connectivity. Sorry, I hired a business consultant to try and turn the Tomb into a profit and he just kept barfing stuff like that into my ears until I had to staple his tongue to the roof of his mouth. Anyway, stop #1 on this round trip is the maple syrup dripping, lumberjack spawning, hockey rocking, very polite Great White North known as Canada! And the landmark shown in our “Where in the World is Anubis Von Mojo?” teaser image? That’s the UFO Landing Pad in the town of St. Paul, Alberta! Yep, Canada’s got its own UFO landing site. Apparently Mars Attacks was never released in the land of the Doug & Bob McKenzie. You can read more about Alberta’s extraterrestrial airport at this link. Arm yourself with knowledge, kiddos!

I know I just reviewed a Canadian film a few weeks ago (Santa’s Slay) and a zombie movie last episode (Pro Wrestlers Vs. Zombies), but I’ve been itching to give Pontypool a viewing for a couple of years now, so fuck it. Here comes what’s guaranteed to be some of the most accommodating living dead (except they’re not) this side of Mormon Heaven! And if you don’t like it? Soory, hosers. I’ve got a thing for girls who say “aboot”. Let’s split a sixer of Moosehead, fry up some back bacon, enjoy the free health care and take in some Canucksploitation until we leave for our next destination!

People (well, 2 of them) have been preaching the benefits of Ponty to me since its release. The best I could offer them was the promise that it would have a place on my “I’ll get to it when I get to it” list. Well, I got to it. And sweet succulent jalapeno poppers dropped from the Virgin Mary’s hair pie do I feel like a better human being having done so. Let’s run the recap and afterward I’ll take a cue from Ben Murphy if you’ll “Permit me to explain wah.

For starters, this is NOT to be mistaken for the documentary Pontius Pool, which followed Jackass member Chris Pontius through the summer of 2013 as he attempted to fill a swimming pool with his friends’ bodily fluids, while living within said gathering of secretions. It lead him on a downward spiral of madness and near-fatal body toxicity that won him 3 Oscar nominations, a Golden Globe, and 4 CableACE Awards… despite the CableACEs having been discontinued in 1997. No, this is Pontypool, based on the novel “Pontypool Changes Everything”, as written by Tony Burgess. Why does that name sound familiar? Oh yeah, it’s because his name’s up above in the “Writer” credit! Yep, he’s the same Tony Burgess who adapted the screenplay. I’ve never read the book because, as I told my high school English teachers, I’m illiterate. That said, given that the author of the book was also the author of the movie, I really hope this turned out to be a faithful adaptation. Especially since I’m actually going to break my illiteracy rule and READ the damn book now!

From the opening, I get a hint that there’s something interesting in store for my next 90 minutes as we’re greeted with an oscillator scope illustrating our opening narration from talk radio host Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie). Despite being played by a native Canadian, I’m presuming that Grant’s a transplant from the U.S. of A. given his unfamiliarity with the surrounding area and very American “cowboy” manner of wardrobe selection. “Presuming” rather than “assuming”, as I make it a point never to leave myself verbally vulnerable for the same “assuming makes an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘Ming’” retort that I prefer to inflict on others. And you never want to make an ass out of Ming. He’ll put his bejeweled boot a Mongo mile up your Flash Gordon.

The Mazzster’s a Don Imus-y type of “Fuck politically correct, I don’t care if people think I’m a racist asshole, you’re gonna listen to my opinion!” personality who takes his morning coffee 50/50 with whiskey. His radio perfect voice carries the morning show on CLSY Radio 660 (“the Beacon!”) in the small town of Pontypool in the province of Ontario. On the way into his shift one dark and snowy Valentine’s Day morning (it is Canada, after all), and after firing his agent over his cell, Grant’s stopped in the parking lot by an oddly acting woman who bangs on his car window while uttering something incoherent over and over again, only to slowly back away into the darkness when Grant addresses her. He calls out to her, only to be answered by his own echoes…though I’m not entirely sure they’re all his (he said, knowingly).

Joined by his no-nonsense producer Sydney (Lisa Houle) and starry-eyed tech engineer Laurel-Ann (Georgina Reilly, pulling off that “girl next door/looking good while not looking like she’s trying to look good” appeal so well), Grant goes about his morning business battling back his winter blues to give the hosers something to listen to on their way to cut down trees and wrestle beavers and play hockey and whatever else it is Canucks do for work. They’re your typical talk radio trio: Grant causes trouble, Syd tries to rein him in, and LA sides with the old man because she admires him and may or may not want to fuck him. That’s not just me being an old man saying that young girls are attracted to we fossils, through “daddy issues” or some misguided sense of “age = maturity = sexy”, either. My Evil Dead Bride actually said it as soon as we see their first morning exchange, so if that sounded sexist, blame her!
Editor’s Note: She was TOTALLY eye-fucking Mazzy. This is NOT UP FOR DEBATE.

After a morning of what I’m presuming to be their typical “office family” squabbles, news of a hostage situation comes in over the radio band with a pair of gunmen holding a van of people against their will… you know, hence the term “hostage situation”. Thanks to LA “accidentally” feeding it into the booth to him against Syd’s wishes, Mazzola (the Indians call him “Maize”) reports on it prior to any police approval, while also implying that everybody involved is probably drunk, including the alcoholic local constabulary. Following, the station is called to drop the story as it’s officially been “resolved”, leading to a nice little exchange between Mazz and Syd where she politely tells him that their listeners are small time folk who prefer their shared small town ignorance, as the cops are actually alcoholics and, while we’re peeking behind the curtain, CLSY’s reporter/weatherman/traffic guy Ken Loney’s “chopper” is just a Dodge Dart he parks on top of the tallest hill. Everybody knows it, but they just like to pretend his sound effects are the real thing. A town just oozing blissful ignorance. Mazz in turn opens up to Syd, confessing that he’s got serious depression issues and every winter wonders if he’ll be able to hold out long enough to see the Spring again. Cue the canned audience noise where everybody goes “Awwwwwww”, but in an awkward way where they’re all worried that Grant will lose it and hang himself from the only bridge in town.

Immediately following their little moment, another newsflash comes in about a big mob of people swarming around the office of John Mendez: a local doctor who’s had recent controversy with writing questionable prescriptions. “Chopper” man Ken (voiced by Rick Roberts) calls in with a play-by-play of the pure chaos on the scene, including “an explosion of people”, bodies all over the place, and military trucks and helicopters (real ones) coming in from out of nowhere. Mazztermind wants to cover the story, but Syd would rather keep the airwaves free of potential public panicking turmoil while she tries to dig up something official that they can report. Mazzter Blaster is forced to go ahead with the planned show, including a performance by their special guests: local a cappella group Lawrence and the Arabians! Fun fact: the guy playing the group’s titular leader is none other than writer Tony Burgess. Hold onto that one next time you and your friends are playing DIY horror movie Trivial Pursuit.

As you can imagine, this performance doesn’t sit well with our self-professed bastion of truthy journalism…until shit gets interesting when Maureen/Farraj, one of the “Arabians” (I see Canadians don’t have the hang-ups with wearing black face that we do down here in North America’s ever-expanding waistband), starts speaking gibberish and eventually just breaks down into repeatedly shouting “PRA!”. Hannah Fleming, who plays the girl, actually does pretty well with her brief smattering of dialogue and that’s saying something coming from the guy who’d rather watch the child actors of the world thrown onto one massive tire fire than have to watch them “act”. Good for you, Hannah. Maybe when you’re older I’ll get to see you in a role with a few more lines and a lot less racial insensitive minstrel show shit smeared on your face!

As more reports make their way into the station, we learn that the people from the Mendez incident have formed into a “herd” of maniacs, swarming like bugs over people trapped in their cars, and collectively making weird sounds (like windshield wipers) or speaking utterances and phrases in unison as if they’re all connected with a hive mind. While trying to sift through the deluge of updates, suddenly the BBC is contacting CLSY in an effort to verify reports that the rest of the world is getting – news about military quarantining of the entire town and a possible terrorist insurgency/mass political uprising in progress! Not much later, an emergency message broadcast breaks into the station’s signal, relaying in French about how everyone within earshot should avoid loved ones, using terms of endearment, and speaking English…and how they also shouldn’t translate this message into English… which Mazzy and friends do…over the air…oops. Keep fucking that chicken, Grant.

Ken escapes the mob, holds up in a grain silo somewhere in town, and calls in to report further. We listen to a man whose face we’ll never even see as he sobs on the brink of total collapse about things he’s seen today “that are going to ruin the rest of his natural life”. Don’t worry Ken, I’m pretty sure your natural life won’t be haunting you much longer. Over the air, Ken relates how everyone is acting less than human and more like wild-eyed like dogs, cannibalizing anyone in their path, and tearing people apart with their bare teeth. Listening to Ken narrate everything to us is somehow far more intense than if we were watching it ourselves. Seeing the three in the studio hanging on each panicked word just as desperately only adds to it. When he records the twisted baby-like screams escaping an infected victim’s throat before it dies, followed by Grant descending into his own auditory hallucinations inside the sound booth? Fuck. That’s some stomach churning Silent Hill levels of terror tension. The games, not those dumbass movies.

When the horror movie paranoia and isolation kick into full swing, Mazzter & Commander and Syd argue right out the front door and into the awaiting blizzard (like I said, Canada)…where a horde of mindless psychos nearby catch wind of their exchange and start screaming “DON’T YOU WALK OUT ON ME, GRANT!” together, mimicking Sydney. Director Bruce McDonald refers to the infected as “conversationalists” rather than zombies, given that they’re not dead and they’re continuously listening while repeating words in a twisted form of symptomatic conversation with their victims. A great concept, but a twist in the vas deferens for someone like myself who doesn’t want to type “conversationalists” twenty or thirty times over the course of a few dozen paragraphs. As such, since they’re all basically brain dead on a conscious level, I’m sticking with “zombies”. If you don’t like it, then in the words of the epic poet Homer (Simpson), go to Russia!…like I will be in a future World Tour installment! Hope they’ve got enough vodka stocked away. Not for me, for them. I’m a whiskey kinda guy.

Barricading themselves in the studio and attempting to maintain their sanity by going on with the show (starting with a surreal obituaries segment), Laurel-Ann joins the ranks of the zombies almost immediately after, standing in place and mimicking the whistle of a tea kettle as she stares off into nothing. This is when Doc Mendez (and his German accent?), the guy whose practice went up in an explosion of bodies and flames earlier, crawls in through a window! He hurries Syd into the sound booth with Snazzy Mazzy and starts telling us what he’s learned by studying the outbreak’s victims. Meanwhile, LA spirals into her own zombiehood as her co-workers watch in saddened horror. To make matters worse, Ken calls back in finally…only to start losing his own mind as we listen to him jibber-jabber away the closing incoherent lines of his life story. Mister T would not like this virus.

Syd drops a shocking little revelation about Ken after his “passing” that fits in with her previous theme of small town not-so-secrets secrets that folks would rather ignore than confront. The twisted look of surprise and disgust on Grant’s face during this is priceless and mirrors what the audience is probably feeling at hearing the same news. Anyway, according to Mendez (whose accent I can’t hear without picturing Dr. Scott in Rocky Horror), the victims of the virus degrade into little more than a “crude radio signal” that’s just seeking something to bounce off of. His theory is that the it’s some kind of “god bug” that spontaneously came into being and is spreading, unpredictably and possibly boundless, infecting people at random and reproducing at epidemic proportions. And how is this bug being passed? Through the blood? Through the air? No. It’s being spread through the mind. Specifically, through the English language. Somehow words are becoming “infected”, and when these infected words reach into a victim’s brain and are understood, it turns the victim into a mindless animal. It then forces them to “hunt” for more words. And when they find someone speaking said words? They rip out their victim’s throat. And if they can’t find a victim? They die. Violently. And Vomity. The only motivator for one animal to murder the fuck out of another animal: self preservation.

In an effort to stem the virus from infecting them too, Syd and Grant stick to communicating in French and through written notes, while Mendez rambles in what may or may not be unsubtitled German. Sooner than later, the mob make their way into the building, but are lured away by a recording of All That Mazz saying “Sydney Briar is alive” played over the outside loudspeaker. Because things can’t be that easy (remember, we’re in an outbreak movie!), a random blip in the power causes everything to reset, defaulting to a playing of the Canadian National Anthem inside the building that lures the mob back in, all shouting “OH CANADA!”. Mendez runs off into the blizzard shouting “Sydney Briar is alive!”, presumably to perish as he leads the maniacs away to give Mazz and Syd a chance for safety. So much for my theory that Mendez was part of some Nazi think tank whose experiment to destroy the world through a 70 year old genocide project got away from them, what with the zombos’ rambling about Hitler and U-Boats. Oh well.

Trapped together in a supply room, Syd works on drinking herself into a numb oblivion and writing stuff on the walls in Sharpie like a teenager, while Grant tries to figure out how to cure the virus. His theory? The reason people are repeating the words over and over again is to say them so much that the words lose meaning, thus losing their contaminating power. It’s a defense mechanism by their immune systems attempting to purge the invading taint. The Mazzter Baiter’s idea for a cure? Don’t just repeat the words until they’re meaningless, but reteach the infected a new meaning to the words. Example? When Syd starts to lose it, her trigger word is “kill”. Instead, Grant keeps repeating “kill is kiss” to her until her brain replaces the meaning of the word “kill” with the meaning of “kiss”, thus curing the trigger! It’s weird, it’s a bit heady for a movie most people will probably expect to be a basic zombie schmoz coming into it, but it’s different. It works though, with Syd whispering “kill me” after, leading to the resolution of that “just fuck already!” workplace sexual tension between the two as they trade spit. It’s like some kind of emo romance thing.

Grant makes one last broadcast in an effort to fix the problem, but it’s like putting a band-aid on a severed leg. Too little, too late. The only people who know the cure take it to their bomb obliterated graves with them as Pontypool becomes a victim of the Return of the Living Dead Protocol. But, to his credit, Grant Mazzy’s last words are spent shitting all over the heavy handed government who responds to something they don’t understand by murdering an entire town of people in fire and thunder. It’s a brilliant tirade, and I don’t use that word casually either, because this diatribe is fucking brilliant to behold. Stick around after the credits though, because there’s a fun, entirely nonsensical stinger at the end that gives our heroes a fucking insane Tarantino-ish happy (I think?!) ending send-off. I hope to see you on the other side, Johnny Deadeyes and Lisa the Killer!

Before I get into the technicals, I’d just like to make mention that the term “OPP” dances through the dialogue time and again. OPP stands for “Ontario Provincial Police”, hence its frequent usage in a Canadian quarantine flick. All I could think of every time I heard “OPP” though, is that Naughty By Nature’s message of what they were “down with” had a whole different meaning up North. In Canada, they must’ve come off as the most law abiding, Kilted Yaksmen supporting rappers ever!

Pontypool. Holy. Shit. Holiest of shits. My faith in movies as a means to grab me by the nose hairs and make me feel things has been restored. Freddie Mercury meme goes here. I have not felt this sense of dread and suspense licking my neck with its barbed tongue since [REC]. While that movie managed it by utilizing the “found footage” method to perfection, Pontypool does it on pure pacing. Oh, and Stephen McHattie (who looks a LOT like Lance Henriksen from the right angle). Stephen McHattie’s like…fuck. His performance is uncannily good here! It’s almost inhuman. Like my Evil Dead Bride said, he was like Dennis Hopper levels of grand with his perfect transition of casual into intensity into stoic into in-fucking-sanity and back into “fuck you” stoic. Mazzy keeps his shit together, but not without faltering here and there so we can be impressed with how quickly he regains his shit just when you think he’s gonna lose it down his pant leg. McHattie acts his ass raw. Down to the bone. I hear he had to sit on a hemorrhoid doughnut for a month after they wrapped filming before they could find a compatible donor for seat meat implants. So much more than I expected from the evil NRA guy from Shoot ‘Em Up. Odd coincidence how he’s the connecting element between the Tomb’s first two 5 star features… and weird as John Merrick’s balls how McHattie looks like Jon Astin on the DVD cover art.

The minimal approach is just so fucking potent! It’s full-on tension. I said it before, but it bears repeating: it’s a thousand times more effective than anything they could actually show us. There’s very little in the way of graphic violence (really, there’s just zom Laurel-Ann bashing her face off of a window and hyper barfing all over the place), but it’s the way that we’re relayed the violence verbally that haunts us. The voice acting by Rick Roberts as Ken as he tells us all of the horrors he’s seeing is fantastic. It’s intense, borderline heartbreaking stuff to hear. The characterization of our tiny group is excellent. Pardon me for finding myself unable to stop sucking it’s metaphorical dick, but this has to be one of the best slow builds I’ve ever seen. If you’re looking for a fast paced splatter-palooza, this is not the movie you want. They’re great in their own right (one of my favorite sub-sub-genres, really), but Pontypool is all about the drama and gradual slide into deep horror. To keep you on your toes, there are also these weird, brain poking moments where reality seems to hiccup. As if the movie is a nightmare coming apart in places as the threads unravel. They’re not as blatant as the “PANCAKES!” scene in Cabin Fever, but they’ll get your attention.

Beyond that, there’s not really a whole lot left for me to say on why I love the maple syrup out of this motherfucker! Let’s bathe in a bit of the afterglow before we go.

There are/were two sequels to Pontypool that were actually planned before this initial installment. They’re supposed to provide more exposition, according to Burgess and McDonald, but given the nature of most sequels, this knowledge fills me with more apprehension than anticipation. When something unique really works for a movie like this (i.e. the isolation and the very slow-but-satisfying expositional foreplay), it doesn’t usually carry over to the follow-up. Remember how The Blair Witch Project and Quarantine both went from “found footage” benchmarks directly into paint-by-numbers horror movie sequels? I have this stabbing dread in my liver that Ponty 2: Electric Booga-Pool Harder would just try to be a low budget World War Z… or that could just be a serious infection from that uncooked meat I ate yesterday. Hey, I just can’t say no to ChiChi’s Baby Tartare Enchiladas! And yes, ChiChi’s does still exist, but only in China, Belgium, Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Indonesia and here in the Underworld.

Given that it’s been 7 years since the first sequel was announced at the 2009 Cannes, and director McDonald and writer Burgess have had a dozen or so other movie and TV projects between their respective schedules since with NO sign of any actual progress on the proposed Pontypool Changes (not as good as my title, to be honest), I’m going to officially call it a Natalie Wood – dead in the water. Natalie Wood: the only kind of wood that doesn’t float! Or, if you’re going for a more “upturned proboscis” approach, you can call it a Virginia Woolf. Pinkies up, fuckers!

Oh well. As douche-snob shithead as this might sound, I prefer my PP pure… call me a hipster and I’ll feed you your mother’s insides colon end first. Just focus on the part where I “peepee” and let’s move on.

Pontypool was also done as an hour long radio play that was broadcast on the BBC’s website, which I was legit excited to hear of, considering the H.G. Wells “War of the Worlds” vibe I was feeling throughout the length of the feature. Sadly, all attempts on my part to find a playable version of it met with dead ends. The best I could drudge up was a YouTube video someone put together of Mazzy’s radio material as taken from the flick. Speaking of the spoken word, if IMDB is to be believed, Burgess’s original concept for the movie was going to be the “The Outer Limits” style oscillator image (seen in the movie’s opening) as the singular visual, bouncing along to Burgess’s voice as he simply read the script for an hour and a half… Might’ve been okay as some kind of performance piece, but as a movie you’re asking people to pay money to see? Outta your fucking mind. Besides, we would’ve been robbed of McHattie’s brilliant visual performance that came along with the verbal. A performance that probably gave Sir Alec Guinness’s ghost an erect lightsaber as he watched from Jedi Heaven. What does that even mean? I don’t know! I may have just become infected… TIME TO GO! GO! GO! GO? GO! GO! GO!

Seriously mine peeples, why wouldst thou be breeders of sinners? Get thee to a Netflixery and submerge thy selves in the Pontypool, lest I pity thee as fools, eh?

With the finale of our episode, so ends our time in France’s North American piece-on-the-side. The Canadian Chuck Norris, Zap Rowsdower, welcomes you to get the fuck out. See you next time in [REDACTED]! To the airport!

Moral of the Story: Genocides are always better when accompanied by elevator music.

Screenshots_____

Typoo – what it’s called when your spelling and grammar mistakes are so far from correct, they’re just straight up unrepentant shit.


That’s a few too many man rings there, Grant. Just buy a pair of brass knuckles and be done with it.


The only movie where you can watch Joey Ramone sexually propositioning a fish. In real life he was more a marsupial type of guy.


This reminds me of Monkey Shines… but Pontypool is still a great movie in spite of that. Fuck you, Monkey Shines.


“Wait till she finds out that I replaced the morning weather report with a track of nothing but fart sounds! And that I replaced her coffee creamer with Ex-Lax! And that I replaced her birth control pills with rat poison! … What the fuck is wrong with me!?”


“‘Best part of waking up’ my ass. This stuff tastes like it was poured out of a ranch hand’s boot at the end of a long day.”


Ever since Laurel-Ann made the joke about how microphones are robot penises, Grant doesn’t like having his nearly as close to his face as before.


Ladies and gentlemen, the look of an actress who just realized her current role should probably be left off of any future audition reels.


“Why so serious?!”


That moment when you’re in the middle of introducing your morning interview guest and regret having a breakfast of nothing but coffee and bran muffins.


Grant gets a little too wrapped up in his latest promo read for Crazy Larry’s Discount Used Cars. “WE’RE NOT JUST CRAZY AT CRAZY LARRY’S! WE’RE FUCKING INSAAAAAAANE!”


“All work and no play makes Syd a dull girl. All work and no play makes Syd a dull girl. All work and no play makes Syd a dull girl. All work…”

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Anubis will return next time in
“How Sweet”

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

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

Feature 37 – Life After Beth (2014)

or “Night of the Living Ludgate”

Featuring: Aubrey “The To Do List” Plaza , Dane “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” DeHaan , John C. “Step Brothers” Reilly

Director & Writer: Jeff “I ❤ Huckabees” Baena

Origin: USA

Review_____

“I’m not dead, I’m alive. I can’t be both!”

Hey kids. Long time no see. Sorry about pulling the old “I’m going to the Chug ‘N Plug for cigarettes” routine on ya. I didn’t plan on leaving you guys and gals in the lurch with no Death God-spun reviews and ridicules for the last two months. Unfortunately, your Uncle Anubis is a Quixotic Casanova, and this hopeless romantic was out falling in love with a fling that ended up being just another windmill. But, bruised heart aside, it was one of those relationships that just wasn’t meant to be. “Love” is what you call it when two peoples’ mental illnesses synch up…until they don’t…then it’s called…ah, who the fuck knows, fuck nose. Enough with the heartache, Lord Byron, we came here for a movie review!

On today’s docket is Life After Beth, a zombie-centric tale about love post postmortem and dealing with the regrets and realities of break ups…shit…what an awkward time to do a movie like this…that I fully intended to review two months ago. I guess my Evil Dead Bride is right: I’m a self-fulfilling prophecy! Maybe if I keep telling myself that I’ll become Aubrey Plaza’s canine-humanoid object of eternal lust, I’ll actually become a prophecy I WANT to fulfill! Propheting for fun and profit! Meh. Enough with the life coaching, Tony Robbins, get to the damn review!

Aubrey Plaza stole my heart as the foulmouthed Julie Powers in Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World, and has since kept a stranglehold on said life pump as April Ludgate, the modern day Darlene Conner in “Parks & Recreation”. Her quick wit and paralyzing sarcasm are like 500cc’s of liquid Viagra right into my happiness parts. Because you can’t pronounce “happiness” without “penis”. I wrote a haiku about it in sixth grade English. True story.

Ms. Plaza plays our titular “Beth” – a barely legal gal who lives with her parents Maury (John C. Reilly) and Geenie (Molly Shannon) in their well-to-do, whitewashed paradise in the Los Angeles suburbs. Life’s not all sunshine and sugar-free gum for young Miss Slocum though (whose last name is one letter away from the first girl I feel in love with, and thus makes this review all the more awkward than it already was…THANKS, MOVIE!). Recently she broke up with her beloved skinny, emo walking corpse of a boyfriend Zach Orfman (Dane DeHaan) for reasons of, I don’t know, “teen stuff”. Possibly because he’s so creepy looking. Did you see Harry Osborn in Amazing Spider-Man 2 after he was exposed to the Green Goblin gas? That’s Dane DeHaan without makeup! It’s true! Imagine that on top of you, humping away, making all those horrible sex faces… Yeah… Blart.

While out on a little hike through the 1% of unmolested LA countryside, our adorable antagonist runs afoul of an unfriendly serpent (not to be confused with my very affectionate trouser snake I’d like to introduce her to) who penetrates her alabaster legs with its venomous love tap, killing our angel-with-resting-bitch-face before we even get to the opening credits.

Would I still? Oh, I would. You know what I mean. It’s not necrophilia if it’s done out of love, it’s necroamory. Just because I can’t legally marry Aubrey Plaza’s bloated, discolored corpse doesn’t make our love any less real than what you have, you fucking Nazis! Ah, who am I kidding. Corpsey Plaza would probably just break my onyx-encrusted jackal heart too.

After Beth’s unexpected expiration, Zach bonds with Mr. and Mrs. Slocum in their shared grief, playing late night games of chess and sparking up jazz cigarette doobies full of the marijuanas together. Zach also starts wearing one of Beth’s old winter scarves (During summer in California? Fucking hipster.), to which he forms a bond that…I’ll leave up to you to view. Just keep a barf bucket handy for your eyeballs. Anyway, their little three-person support group is cut short when the object of said grief suddenly returns! Was Beth brought back by the Slocums’ minority housemaid a la Zombie Nightmare? Was she possibly bombarded by cosmic radiation from a crashed satellite? Was the ground she was buried in saturated with a failed experimental marijuana defoliant created by the US government? Did her parents have her buried in the Pet Sematary by accident?! Whatever the case, their Life After Beth has just become…uhm…life with Beth? Re-life with Beth? Life with re-Beth? Bah. Enough with the shitty re-titling jokes, Rex Reed, get to the rest of the review!

All weirdness and mystery around Beth’s resurrection (not to be confused the with res-erection she gives me) aside, mom and dad are just pleased as (spiked) punch to have their little girl returned to them by the grace of “God”. But, they’re also well aware of the potential shitstorm it would cause if anyone else ever found out about this miraculous event, so they opt to keep Beth in the house and away from the outside world. Attempts to keep Zach away were unsuccessful though, and his snoopery ended up getting him in on the big secret. He immediately wants to take her out and use this second chance at shared happiness to experience the world with her, bucking the adults’ better judgment as teens are oft to do. To paraphrase a Texas propane salesman though, that Beth ain’t right. She has no recollection of dying, now insists on living in the attic, keeps talking about how she has some test she needs to study for and goes through violent mood swings while displaying signs of superhuman strength. She also has an odd aphrodisian proclivity for smooth jazz and she doesn’t remember breaking up with Zach, thus she’s still madly in love with him…a bit more madly than prior to her death. Weird, right? Nah. I’d still let her put a gimp mask on me and lead me around on a leash. Enough with the sadomasochism, Donatien Alphonse François de Sade, is the movie any good or not?!

As a dark comedy, Life After Beth works. The movie delves into pretty dark territory more than once. Not Under Siege 2: Dark Territory either, but actual dark territory. Like, “that’s some upsetting shit” type dark territory, not terrorists-on-a-train type dark territory. Just wanted to make sure that was clear. Sadly, the bite of some of said darkness is blunted later on like a crocodile with corked teeth, but there’s still some sad to be had that throws off the comedic ballast of this boat trip just a bit. But hey, any comedian will tell you that comedy comes from suffering, and the whole movie’s all a big metaphor for getting over a bad breakup. Heartbreak is the worst pain of all, right? Just don’t tell that to people with cluster headaches. No, seriously, that shit’s supposed to be worse than giving birth. I read it on a “Top 10 Most Painful Medical Conditions” website…GO LOOK IT UP! Enough with the snap diagnosis, WedMD, let’s get this over with!

As a zombie flick, LAB‘s makeup work is pretty damn slick, while the gore is pleasantly graphic and gets abundant later on. It’s no Braindead, but it is a bit of a shock at how much of the red stuff comes out once they open the floodgates. It’s like a suicide bomber going to Heaven and finding out that ALL 72 of his promised virgins get their period on the same cycle. Speaking of misery, the stages of Beth’s zombie transition and Zach’s handling of it are a horror movie embodiment of the five stages of grief, and I appreciate the metaphor. It doesn’t come off as too “punch you in the face” with the approach and actually made me feel a little better about my own recently deceased bout of romantic human interaction.

Personal therapeutic biases aside, overall I thought it was an okay movie. Not bad for the guy who wrote I Fart Fuckabees. Nothing to set the world on fire, and I think I’m a little too old for romantic teen zomedies at my advanced state of chronological decay, but it’s a charming little flick to share with the horror lover in your life. Or, just watch it by yourself while crying into a pillow after said horror lover leaves you for any of the myriad of reasons you’ll be spending the rest of your miserable life alone eating microwaved mac & cheese while jerking off into that sock they lost under your bed the last time they were over.

Amusingly enough, in addition to dear Aubrey, someone else I first found out about by viewing Scott Pilgrim also appears within these scenes. Anna Kendrick (who played Scott’s caffeine slinging sister Stacey) shows up as Zach’s school peer Erica, who becomes Mopey McGaunt’s potential new girly girl while he’s on the rebound and down. As you might guess, things go all 90210 when our titular living dead girl, in her heightened state of bestial ferality, discovers said rival for her hunk of man meat…well, maybe “thinly sliced scraps of off-brand boy meat substitute” would be more fitting.

I hate looking at Dane DeHaan so much. Just look at him. Take a good long look.

Feel that mass trapped in your throat? That’s not the hamster you swallowed last night (you weirdo), it’s a chunky cocktail of rage and vomit. The guy’s like the Rage virus spliced with Ebola and stabbed directly into your eyes and ears with foot-long hypodermic needles.

And that’s that. Sorry it took me TWO MONTHS to write so little about the movie itself. It’s a new release, so I didn’t wanna spew too much and ruin it for viewers-to-be who just wanted to find out if it was worth a watch, or just came for some laughs without a buttload of spoilers. Thanks for joining me here for magical Episode 37. Or, as Kevin Smith afic(ionados) would call it “The ‘Sucked Dicks’ Episode”….hmmm, really should’ve thought this through and reviewed Dogma instead…fuck it. I’m sure this review wasn’t worth the wait, and may very well have fellated proverbial phalli in the process, but it’s over. Now, much like Zach (and yours truly), we can all get beyond this Thunderdome known as love and move on to greener pastures…especially if said landscape is the verde dyed pubic hair of some no-strings-attached punk rock rebound fuck.

By Osiris’s Prince Albert, I am one romantic son of a jackal bitch.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m really nervous for the test tomorrow and my Evil Dead Bride and I are going hiking. Sjáumst!

Moral of the Story: In the land of the dead, Kenny G is king.

Screenshots_____

Miss Plaza, seen here dialing the police after the last bout of drunken texts I sent her… I think the bestiality pics I sent may have been a little much… I STILL WANNA MAKE A LITTER OF PUPS WITH YOU, BABY! PLEASE CANCEL THE RESTRAINING ORDER!


The vent cover watches its prey, waiting for the moment to pounce and claim the car as its victim. The circle of life continues.


“That’s checkmate AGAIN Mr. Slocum! Off with the pants!”


“Filthy, nasty hobbitses! They have stolen it! My Precious!”


“You fucking poser! You call yourself a Whovian?! That looks NOTHING like the 4th Doctor’s scarf! Take it off before I go all Dalek on your ass!”


If some studio tries to pull the Twilight bullshit on the Frankenstein mythos, here’s your YA Monster. “Girl hottie… too hottie… FIRE BAD!”


He looks like she just told him the pee strip turned blue… THOSE ARE MY PUPPIES, YOU SON OF A BITCH!


Molly Shannon’s great, but she’s got one of those frighteningly over-gummy smiles that looks like her dentures are falling out…


A young Matt Frewer after a fortune teller’s crystal ball shows him what the future holds for his hairline. Poor kid.

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Anubis will return next time in
“The Grand Kill-the-Rest Hotel”

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