Featuring: Kurt “Escape From New York” Russell , Rosario “Clerks II” Dawson , Zoë “Game of Death (2011)” Bell
Director & Writer: Quentin “Inglourious Basterds” Tarantino
Also Known As:Death Proof
“I’m afraid you’re gonna have to start gettin’ scared immediately.”
Intro: As mentioned in my Planet Terror rerun review, Grindhouse hits the big 1-0 this year, so what better time to exhume the remains of a pair of my old pontifications from the rubble of the old site (I should really get around to having that cleaned up) and see whether or not this double-feature retained its luster after the last decade? The answer: there is no better time…unless we’re talking about last month on the anniversary of Grindhouse‘s actual release date. But, what has been done cannot be undone, and what was not done is being done now. Got it? Me neither. Anyway, heeeeere’s Death Poof!
I mean, “proof”… here’s Death Proof…
Quentin Tarantino comes in with the second feature of Grindhouse and, unlike Planet Terror‘s demolition derby of start-to-finish action and gore, Death Proof makes you earn that privilege by sitting through a lot of characterization and dialogue first. In other words, it’s a Tarantino movie. I’ve never had a problem with Quentin’s movies, I just hate the man himself because he’s a spazzy little pissant that should never be allowed to do interviews or step foot in the general public. But, if I was going to be slowly driven insane by listening to actors spew lines of vulgarity and pop culture references at each other until it pulled a Chinese Water Torture on my frontal lobe, I’d want it to be written by QT…or Kevin Smith.
Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) is, well, a former stuntman, in case you didn’t catch that part of his name. Mike used to do a lot of “falling off horses” stand-in work in the old days of TV westerns before falling back on car crash stunts when he ran out of actors to look like. But, in this modern day of Hollywood penny pinching bullshit like computer graphics imaging, jobs are scarce for guys like Mike. With all this free time on his hands, Mike’s got plenty of opportunities to find new ways to keep himself entertained. Whereas most normal guys would simply work on their porn collection or take up a hobby like pyrography, Mike instead discovered his new fetish: killing women!
Mike’s technique of choice isn’t anything as simple as stabbing, shooting or strangulation, though. Instead, he likes to involve them in violent car wrecks the likes of which no one could ever possibly walk away from. This way, said meticulously plotted slaughters can never really be seen as anything more than one guy’s unfortunate string of car wrecks. Would-be accusations of stuff like “premeditated murder” are immediately followed by stuff like “no concrete evidence”, so Mike gets away with little more than a brief stint in a hospital room for a broken bone or two, which is all in a day’s work for a stuntman anyway. But how does SM pull off such a thing without getting himself an early ride to the grave in the process? Turns out that stuntmen can super reinforce a car in a way that guarantees the driver will not be killed should the car be otherwise destroyed. This method is called…wait for it… “death proofing”.
That’s right kids, we have ourselves a title.
So, we have our antagonist. Now, where will we find him some victims? Enter Abernathy (Rosario Dawson), Kim (Tracie Thoms), Lee (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Zoe (real life stuntwoman Zoe Bell as herself!) – four friends looking for fun. Ab, Kim and Lee are all on break from their current jobs on the set of the latest Lindsey Lohan tripe, which gives them time to hang out with their pal Zoe who’s in town visiting from New Zealand. Seems that while she’s here, Zoe plans to live out a longtime goal of riding on the hood of a car (a game she calls “ship’s mast”) that’s the exact make and model of her panty-peeler fantasy ride from the cult classic carsploitation movie Vanishing Point – a white 1970 Dodge Challenger.
As luck would have it, such a car is being offered for sale by one of the yokels in the Tennessee area where the ladies are residing! After Ab sweet talks the car’s slack-jawed stereotype into letting the gals take a test drive (which includes a terrifying allusion to leaving Lee, cheerleader costume and all, behind so Billy-Bob can “get to know her”), the remaining trio of ladies take the Challenger out for a spin. Too bad for the babes that what starts off as a dream come true for Zoe turns into a car chase nightmare when who else but our homicidal hombre Mike, out of the hospital and behind the wheel of his newly proofed Chevy Nova, is back on the prowl to grind more fresh lady flesh under his Goodyears. What follows is one of the greatest car chase finales since The Road Warrior.
As mentioned before, the movie’s a bit talky. Since Grindhouse is over 3 hours long, people are going to be begging for any opportunity to hit the restroom and empty their Pampers. My best recommendation would be to drain the reservoirs during the first 20 minutes of so of Death Proof. If you love Tarantino’s writing you might want to ignore what I just said, but if you’re not the type who absolutely must see half an hour or so of characters being established only to have all of that effort flushed in the long run, heed my words. I could live with seeing everything before the first car accident scene trimmed down considerably, then leaving the last half of the movie as is, to be honest. But, like everything else on this website, that’s just my opinion. Despite the innately inessential opening act, the latter half of the flick makes sitting through the first half so worth the effort.
Kurt Russell looks like he had as much fun playing the weathered Stuntman Mike as Tarantino probably had directing the whole movie (despite its lack of his infamous inclusion of n-word carpet bombing the script). The man-who-was-Snake runs the range from funny to creepy to charming to pathetic and he does it all with a wink and a smile. His performance is nothing if not a blast to watch… sorry, “blast” was the best word I could come up with when typing this.
The cast of gals are all having a lot of fun here too and it shows. Zoe Bell should definitely mix in more actual acting roles with her stunt work (FYI: she was Uma Thurman’s double for the Kill Bill movies) and she looks like she’s genuinely having a pisser of a time riding that hood. Tracie Thoms is the definition of “crazy bitch” as she hoots, hollers and curses her way through the last 30 minutes of the movie and makes me wish I was cool enough to hang out with her. And Rosario Dawson? I’ve fallen in love with her all over again since the first time she made me do so in Clerks II. She’s cool, she’s sweet, she’s hot, she’s adorable, she’s a FUCKING COMIC GEEK and, when it gets down to it, she’s a hellacious bruiser! Her best moment? Wait till about two seconds after “The End” pops up on the screen and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
As with Planet Terror, everybody else on the credits scroll did their job and that’s about all I can say about that. Eli Roth (who directed the Thanksgiving trailer I’ll be mentioning later) and Tarantino himself have small roles too – Quentin as a friendly bartender and Roth as a patron at said bar trying to get his ovarian target for the night drunk enough to go home with her. Can’t say I blame him though, as I can only imagine the looks he gets when he tells chicks, “Yeah, I’m the guy who made Hostel! Wanna go back to my place and shit on my chest?”.
Aside from the two or three hundred movie references Tarantino drops throughout the dialogue (you’d think he was making a commission on DVD sales from these things…), I’m sorry to say that I’m not a follower of car chase flicks, so many of the tribute pieces were probably lost on me. For instance, if my mother-in-law hadn’t pointed out that the chrome duck hood ornament on Mike’s car was an homage to one used in the movie Convoy, I would’ve just seen a stupid chrome rubber duck. The one thing that I did pick up on (at least I think so…) was a scene where Stuntman Mike plows through a roadside movie marquee advertising a double feature for Scary Movie 4 and a Wolf Creek sequel. Somebody correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m gonna say that this is a little tribute to Wes Craven’s now classic use of a torn Jaws poster in the original The Hills Have Eyes as a way to say that the latter was a superior scare flick in comparison to the former. Did Tarantino use this to say that the double feature in Grindhouse is superior to an imaginary double feature of these other non-existent movies, or am I just reading too much into it? More importantly, do you care? Me neither.
As far as the Grindhouse gimmick goes, Tarantino shies away from the liberal use of film scratches and superficial burns that Rodriguez leaned on for Planet Terror, opting instead for other loving faux faults like audio hiccups and a couple of frames missing from the reel that cause cars to suddenly disappear, small pieces of conversation to be left out and people to magically teleport from one place to another. He also does a great bit with the opening credits, in which the title card for the movie’s original fake original title of “Quentin Tarantino’s Thunder Bolt” is clipped out for a generic looking still of the alternate title (that of course being “Death Proof”) printed in white on a base black background. That was a definite favorite moment for me. This movie’s “Missing Reel” moment is a lap dance scene that I couldn’t care less about missing to be honest, so if this was never shot and doesn’t make it into the DVD, I won’t mind.
For you trivia hounds out there, Stuntman Mike got into the stuntman biz through his brother, Stuntman Bob. If that helps you win ‘Jeopardy’ someday, you owe me 20%!
All in all, I meant what I said and I said what I meant: I recommend Grindhouse 100%. And now, for the “coming attractions”…
I’m going to talk about two of Grindhouse’s fake trailers here and the other two in my review for Planet Terror, so if you haven’t checked that out yet, do so when you’re done here.
The first trailer (which is actually the third trailer shown throughout the length of the double feature) is Don’t. In a hilarious lampooning of the infamous “Don’t [Action to be Disparaged Goes Here]” movie titles US release companies gave European releases in the States during the sleazy ‘70s, Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright previews a fake movie for us about people trapped in a haunted house, including the director’s frequent collaborators Nick Frost and Simon Pegg. Pushing the joke all the way, the trailer is entirely narration (by Will Arnett) with none of the actors getting off any actual lines, a trick used by said US releasing companies 30 years ago when they didn’t want potential audience members to know that the European movies being released under these new pseudonyms were cast with actors of heavy accents, worried it would turn people off. Much like Shaun of the Dead, this trailer’s literally brilliant and uses the underlying humor of its source material to full comedy effect. If I were the kind of guy who rated trailers, this would be a five star all the way!
Our final trailer is from Cabin Fever horror wunderkind Eli Roth, who brings us a parody of ‘70s and ‘80s holiday gimmick slasher movies called Thanksgiving that seems to be equal parts Halloween and My Bloody Valentine homage humor. The trailer goes for total shock factor, dick slapping everybody with graphically implied sex scenes and over-the-top gore. To put it in terms of audience reaction, everybody in the theater was laughing for Don’t, then groaning and gasping as loud and painfully as possible for Thanksgiving. Severed heads aplenty here, along with Cinemax level softcore scenes of chicks giving out blow jobs like they were Christian propaganda fliers, a disturbing scene of a topless cheerleader on a trampoline getting a very sharp alternative to a Tampax shoved up her birth canal, and a baffling final scene of someone cooked and stuff like a giant turkey before a very brief glimpse of what looks like Roth himself being sodomized at a dinner table…what the fuck?! Roth has shown he likes shock value over “artistic vision” and I’d definitely watch Thanksgiving as a feature, just to say I sat through it without blinking…because I’m a desensitized sociopath. Though I can appreciate some fairly done graphic violence and sex, the actual urge to see something like this isn’t as inspiring as I think the man was trying to do. 3 out of 5.
Xtro: Okay, for starters allow me to redact my pissing and moaning about Tarantino being a spaz, as it’s hypothesized that the mad genius of genre tropes and snappy dialogue may well have Asperger’s or at least fall somewhere on the autistic spectrum. I’m not saying he needs to be pitied as a result, I’m just over being annoyed by his manic mannerisms and “too much cocaine in his coffee” personality. Considering the mental demolition derby I’ve been involved in in recent years myself, that would also make me a bit of a hypocrite. And remember kids, it’s not hip to be a hypocrite… just ignore the difference in spelling there. My PSA is still viable, G.I. Jerkoff.
Unlike Planet Terror, Death Proof‘s special effects skew more traditional to the grindhouse theme, opting for what at least looks like 100% practical magic (housewife witchery not included) rather than dicking with digital deceptions. This ain’t no Fast and Furious fuckery, fanboys! This is a straight up traditional car-on-car bump n’ grind! And what did R. Kelly teach us before he was trapped in his closet and pissing on teenage girls? There ain’t nothin’ wrong with a little bump n’ grind. Or, if you too were raised on Mad Max movies (like moi) or those classic off-the-radar car flicks of the ’70s, the old way is the only way. It’s an art form that, depressingly, has fallen victim to technology and breaks my heart…well, except for Mad Max: Fury Road, because I pray George Miller my soul to keep.
Tarantino also made Death Proof with what you’d imagine to be an anorexic budget, as its 2 hour run time takes place in fewer locations than an agoraphobic’s weekly routine. So much of it happens in a honky-tonk bar or a diner or on back roads or just in the cars themselves that it has to be Quentin’s most minimalist shoot outside of Reservoir Dogs and The Hateful Eight. This doesn’t keep the man from shooting it all beautifully with his usual “100 different angles” style though, and even for someone who hasn’t spent so much as 5 minutes in a film class, it brings a tear to my eye and a jealousy to my heart. Speaking of jealousy, I imagine that most of the obscure movie posters and paraphernalia that decorates the sets belong to Tarantino himself, which no doubt saved a fair amount of pressure on the prop budget…unless he was smart and used said budget to buy a bunch of cool shit he himself didn’t already have, then just pocketed everything when the job was done.
The cast is fantastic, the direction and cinematography are beautiful (moreso if you’re a foot fetishist like QT, far less so if you’re a podophobic like my mother-in-law), if you’re a fan of Tarantino’s usual heavily scripted free-flowing dialogue by characters who would all kick your ass at Trivial Pursuit you’ll be happy to know it’s all there, the soundtrack is pitch perfect (because it’s gods damned Quentin Tarantino, so of fucking course it is), and the stunts are so eye blisteringly stellar that the team deserves a friggin’ constellation named after them! It’s almost a perfect movie. But…
The biggest problem I first had with DP (huh huh huh) was watching it directly after having sat through the 100+ minutes of Planet Terror. Even if I weren’t a lightweight when it comes to theatrical marathons (I’ve only watched two movies back-to-back in a theater twice), following up a zombie slaughtering action-comedy with a “talkie” that takes the better part of an hour before it sheds any blood? It’s a rough transition. I wouldn’t blame anyone who walked out, fell asleep in their seat, or passed on paying for a ticket altogether. Even as its own entity, I still have a major issue with the movie’s structure: it sandblasts my ass to introduce and flesh out a cast of characters just to kill them off halfway through the movie and introduce a second cast of would-be victims after. Why? Because the only person we follow throughout the flick is Stuntman Mike, but he’s less a main character than a catalyst! He’s the antagonist, fine, but we get no inclination of his motivation beyond that he’s a former fall guy who really hates women for… some… reason. Want to excuse this as part of the bad movie gimmick? No. If you’re giving us snappy dialogue delivered by talented actors but leaving out important background details about the only constant character in the movie, that’s flying like a lead zeppelin full of mud sharks.
My other gripe is the inconsistency of the grindhouse mimicry. The gimmick shit comes on heavy in the first few minutes with intentionally awkward cuts, audio skips, and that great title card change paving the way (pun intended). The grimy grainy motif carries on throughout the first half, but then the second half starts on an incredibly clean black & white scene (of which QT is keen) for reasons unseen. The colors come back on after the new apples of Mike’s evil eye are introduced, but the crisp look continues on until the finale. It’s an absolute orgasm for the oculars, especially now being able to see the grand 20 minute vroom vroom chase in 1080p, but why drop the titular shtick?! Punch my ticket and tickle my pickle.
And if you’re wondering if Tarantino’s penchant for excessively over-salting his scripts with a Lt. Col. Killgore level carpet-bombing of the n-word (and no, that’s not short for “napalm”), then yes. Not Samuel L. Jackson levels, granted, but Tracie Thoms does utter enough “niggas” to give Jeff Sessions a semi. So, if hearing said term churns your aural sensibilities, your ears will not be spared here.
While my reunion with Planet Terror reminded me just how much fun it is to watch, seeing Death Proof again bore me an all new respect for it. Despite my criticisms, I do appreciate the ass off of it! It’s not Quentin Tarantino’s best (in fact, he’s called it his worst), but it’s only one shelf below top shelf, and that makes it money in my book.
With that, kiddies, it’s time to say goodbye. Join us next episode when we get a visit from a certain team of super powered people who “guard” humanity from evil…
Moral of the Story: Bars offer all manner of pleasantries outside of booze. Alcohol is simply the lubricant for social interaction… unless you’re me, in which case alcohol is the legal anesthetic through which my body pisses off my brain by becoming completely unresponsive to any and all commands.
“I’m so glad I cut an emergency hole in all of my pants so I can plug up any unexpected leakage issues! Why doesn’t everybody do this?!”
“And then the monster was all like, ‘FIRE BAD!’ and shit. Hahahaha.”
“Bitch, does this look like an Appletini? If I wanted a margarita, I would’ve asked you to get me a margarita!”
Eli Roth wasn’t quite prepared for the vitriolic text he received from Keanu Reeves following the critical response to Knock Knock.
Cousin It spends yet another Saturday night dressed in drag and picking up strange men in bars, despite promising the rest of the Addams that it would never happen again after that weekend he spent locked up in Roman Polanski’s basement.
Special cameo by Eddie Izzard!
I wonder if he got that scar from eating pussy… or “pineapple” if we’re being censored.
In case you forgot you were watching a Quentin Tarantino movie. Oh well, it could be worse. At least his fetish isn’t school girls showing live eels up their butts or octogenarians shitting on Precious Moments Figurines!
If this were made in Japan, that would just be an indicator that she’s incredibly horny.
Beauford misread Jake’s comment and leaned in for a kiss that, sadly, would never come to pass. He and his broken heart resigned from the department shortly after to avoid the uncomfortable awkwardness between them that resulted, and spent the rest of his years married to Martha, dreaming of what could have been.
“Damn it, guys, I told you not to let Jenny have second and third helpings of chili for breakfast! I’m stuck back here with her for the next hour and it already smells like the ladies room at White Castle!”
A rare still from the long lost Michael Myers parody porn, “Hallowiener: Is That a Butcher Knife in Your Pocket, or Are You Just Happy to See Me?”. The producers were advised not to distribute it as a Betamax exclusive, but they insisted it was the wave of the future. But, as this ad proves, sometimes it takes more than sex to sell.
We’ve all been the odd one out when it came to 3 people riding in a 2 seater and you weren’t fast enough to call “shotgun”.
Despite his wealth and fame, Kurt Russell refuses to pay drive-in prices, opting instead to watch Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 from his neighbor’s roof.
“Well, it looks like Boss Hogg didn’t take too kindly to those Duke Boys leaving an upper decker in his private moonshine still, so it was up to Roscoe to put Bo and Luke on ice. And all this just hours before the annual Hazzard County ‘Wings & Wangs’ barbecue and penis measuring festival!”
Hey ladies, are your pants registered with Airbnb by any chance? Because I’d like to live in ’em for a few days while I’m in town! *rimshot*
“And THIS is for Overboard! You ruined my trust in men for years with what you did to Goldie Hawn, you sick freak!”
Anubis will return next time in “In Soviet Russia, Copyright Laws Infringe You!”
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!
“It’s just like life, isn’t it? There are no do-overs.”
Hello, kids! Your humble narrator here, once again. My apologies for my absence these last few weeks. I wasn’t intentionally being enticingly elusive, I just lost all of my fingers after a “business agreement” with Robert Durant kinda fell through, and have been awaiting their regeneration. They’re still not 100%, but I’ve got enough stubbage to bang out a few words for today’s overdue review!
Also, no matter how hard you try, you’re now unable to read this without imagining my creepy little malformed digits clacking away at my keyboard. Take it, you slut. Take it all! Take it to your GRAVE!
Now then, back when “The New Adventures of Old Anubis” here started up, it got off on the right foot (the left one, if you’re Christy Brown) with The Night of the Living Dead 3D: Re-Animation, a repugnantly poor zombie sequel with an upsettingly long title starring personal favorites Andrew Divoff and, the reason The Tomb exists in the first place, Jeffrey Combs! Unfortunate to say, it was a decidedly drab performance by the career Herbert West, which may have had some small part in why I’ve only reviewed one other Combs movie since – Beyond Re-Animator. Though the lesser of the beloved trilogy, BRA was a better-than-average entry in the SIP (Scientists In Prison) sub-subgenre and an exponentially better outing for Combs than what we wound up with for TNotLD3DR. Then again, you can transplant the blame for that one to whomever cast such a master of scenery chewing for a barely-better-than-background-character role, should you feel so inclined to.
Today’s movie is a return to form for Mr. Combs, so I’m happy to start off our next 100 episodes with a heavy dosage of Jeff Monster Dos (Jeff Monster Uno being Jeff Goldblum) in the dinner party game to end all dinner party games! Or we could just get a pizza, order The Bye Bye Man on pay-per-view and stay in tonight. Would you rather? Too bad, cuz this review’s happening with you or without you.
Still here? Cool. Embrace your life of servitude. Our protagonista Iris (Brittany Snow) is one of those unfortunate “had so much potential and was going to college to do great things, but was forced to drop out and return home to take care of a sick family member by getting a low paying job she’s tragically overqualified for” dramatic heroines that we all root for out of a deep sense of pity or, worse, sympathy. The ailed family member in Iris’ case is her younger brother Raleigh (Logan Miller) whose leukemia is a total buzzkiller, man! I’m talkin’ Bring Down City, dudes, population Iris! Totally bogus, she-brosef! When their parents died in a car crash, she literally became her brother’s keeper. While Iris may accept her burden like a leading character would, Rals is less than happy about being a big dumb cancer-riddled shackle around big sister’s ankle, so he sits around all day feeling sorry for her while mocking her inability to speak with a French accent. Given that she pronounces “monsieur” as “man-sewer” like she’s one of the wild and wonderful Whites of West Virginia, I have to question the legitimacy of the movie’s claim that she was on the road to any kind of “greatness” beyond assistant manager of an under-performing Cracker Barrel. C’est la cinéma.
With medical bills mounting and the government dominated by elephant worshiping mutants genetically predisposed to refusing affordable healthcare for people in need, Raleigh’s grave illness is looking more and more deserving of that descriptor as time ticks away. Fortunately for the siblings, this is a movie! And since it’s a movie, the highly unlikely prospect of finding a bone marrow donor for Raleigh and covering the cost of the transplant operation is offered to Iris by the lad’s oncologist, Dr. Barden (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.)! Well, not Dr. B exactly, but he does introduce her to an incredibly wealthy philanthropist type guy named Shepard Lambrick (Jeffrey Combs) who offers her the self-same salvation.
Hold up. Shepard Lambrick? Shepherd? Lamb? What the fuck is that about?! I hate whimsical naming tropes. Blart.
Shep invites our gal to a dinner party he’s hosting and promises to solve all of Raleigh’s problems if she participates in and wins a no doubt left intentionally ambiguous “party game” with his other guests. Barden vouches for the eccentric, evil emanating gent’s offer, revealing that the mustachioed mystery man’s charitable foundation opened the very same drive thru window of McOpportunity for him some years back when he too was in dire need of help. That might explain why Doc doesn’t seem to give a shit that Sheppy Warbucks has been building a mountain of discarded peanut shells on the fainting couch in his office for the extent of this exchange. Had Ed McMahon ever come through with that giant check he was always promising me, I’d have let him sit naked on my couch during the hottest day of the year and shuck all the legumes he wanted wherever he wanted!
Not entirely sure that she isn’t being set up to play one of the titular tuchi in an “ass to ass” show for a roomful of guys in business suits a la Requiem for a Dream (still a less disturbing scene than watching Marlon Wayans rape stuffed animals in A Haunted House), Iris needs some time to think about the offer. When she goes home and gets the GTFOut callback from TGIFridays about the hostess job she was hoping to land, she’s left with little option but to toss her metaphorical hat into Mr. Lambrick’s dinner party ring. She tells Ral that she’s going out for the night to blow off some stream with her friends, rather than doing the smart thing and explaining the situation to him.
Any time you’re invited to an affluent stranger’s dinner party (the closest to which I’ll ever experience being GJ Echternkamp inviting me to lunch after reading my review for Death Race 2050), you should leave behind every piece of information you can with as many people as you can, as your first presumption should be that said affluent stranger intends to either kill and eat you (not necessarily in that order) or, best case scenario, that their friends are going to hunt you across a private island like some sort of game. A dangerous game, if you will. Perhaps, dare I say, the most dangerous game?
Our embattled heroine is chauffeured to the event, which she's told is not held in the Lambs’ personal home, but in a mansion the family uses solely for this special annual dining event… Sorry to keep harping on the inevitable danger we can all see waiting for Iris like Shin Godzilla on the horizon, but sometimes my mind takes its cue from my Jethro Tull “Thick as a Brick” cassette – it has 1 track. Ready for a 100cc injection of irony? The 8-track version of “Thick as a Brick” too only has said singular track. Think about it.
At the party, Iris (and the viewer, vicariously) is introduced to the other 7 attendees. We don’t learn much about each, so I’ll just give you the quick role call. We have Lucas (Enver Gjokaj), Cal (Eddie “CRABMAN!” Steeples, who still has the same rebellious mane he did in ‘My Name is Earl’), Peter (Rob Wells), Linda (June Squibb… no relation to the man who invented the squib), Travis (Charlie Hofheimer), Amy (Sasha Grey), and Conway (John Heard… what? What has John heard?). Each was recruited for tonight from one corner of the country or another, with Iris as the only local talent. Given that Doc was a past winner though, maybe that’s good luck? You know how competitive people are about their superstitions, after all. Still, that does come off as convenient…
Once their meal gets underway, the reason for the dinner (and our title) becomes immediately obvious when Iris declares herself a vegetarian and apologizes for having to decline the flesh heavy entree. Shep in turn offers her $10k to bypass her dietary morals and choke down her steak and foie gras in front of everyone. Naturally (and literally), she bites and earns herself a handy five figures to stomach rich people food that doesn’t consist of live snails or monkey brains! Nice. Next on ‘Deal or Ordeal’, recovering alcoholic Conway cashes in his 16 year chip for a decanter of “the finest Scotch money can buy” and a $50k payday of his own. Shit, I’d down a gallon of Tenafly Viper and a chaser of Shaq’s sweaty sneaker full of horse piss for $50k! I also have zero shame.
So, as far as asshole rich people in movies go, our antagonist has established himself as the Ted DiBiase type: offering the less fortunate what he considers a pittance to shit away their dignity for his amusement. Ladies and gents, welcome to the game that’s a sadist’s paradise – Would You Rather.
With the pre-show over and everyone sufficiently intrigued/terrified, the guests are offered an out before things go any further. Looks like they all assume that they’re just going to be paid to eat and drink things they normally wouldn’t be into though, so no one takes the Get Out of Guantanamo Free card. When Shep’s hired goon Bevans (Jonny Coyne) rolls in a DIY shock therapy machine, the now imbibed Conway indignantly tries to take his $50k and run, only to be met with a bullet in the face from the former MI5 spook-turned-Caucasian Random Task (hopefully without all that “Christmas Eve gang rape and torture” nastiness)! Yes, kids, when someone who’s clearly a sadist says you’re allowed to leave the situation before things get “serious”, you run for that glowing red EXIT sign as fast as your feet will carry you before Million Dollar Man Jigsaw changes his mind!
In addition to Bev, Lambrick also introduces his son Donald Jr., I mean Julius (Robin Lord Taylor) to the group. As you’d anticipate, Jules is your typical fucking rich kid snot rag who clearly carries daddy’s mean streak in his DNA, minus the false face of eminence and empathy that pops portrays to the plebians. The wormy shit’s last name would be better pronounced “Lame-prick”, and if you didn’t wanna punch the young Oswald Cobblepot in the face with a bedpan bad enough before seeing this movie, you’ll wanna shove Domon Kasshu’s burning finger through his face by the end of it.
Round 1 (FIGHT!) involves the guests zapping each other with the “enhanced interrogation” electroshocker, as two players per turn get their heads wired. Each person is offered the opportunity to rattle their own fillings or give the person to their right a taste of the Carrie Fisher Treatment. It’s like the “take a penny, leave a penny” tray at the liquor store, only with a higher risk of heart attack and self-defecation. Though most of the remaining 7 play nice and opt to take Ben Franklin’s Kite Ride themselves, Amy keeps it 100 and buzzes old lady Linda’s wig faster than Electro on uppers. Clearly someone’s grandma was a bit heavy handed with the wooden spoon while she was growing up and now has a case of Grandmasogyny. You can’t watch this part of the game without thinking about the family therapy episode of ‘The Simpsons’…
With no fatalities (aside from Conway getting a case of .45 caliber gray matter splatter in the pre-show), the Surviving Seven all go on to Round 2. Then again, Round 1 clearly wasn’t meant to eliminate anyone, so much as it was just a way to prod (No pun intended? No, pun intended!) everyone into disclosing who the Samaritans are and who the Jeff Varners/human skidmarks are (*whisper* it’s Amy). During their between-rounds timeout, the gang try to work out an escape plan. While they ponder how best to jump Bevans and his back-up lackeys, they make sure to let Amy know that her bitch-ass is on her own. Much as I echo the sentiment, that’s the kind of thing someone who’s shown themselves to be self-centered to a violent extent is just going to use later to further smother their conscience and fuel their “fuck the rest of you” mentality. Good luck with that.
Round 2 ramps shit up a few levels, graduating to “Would you rather stab so-and-so in the leg with an icepick or cane the ever loving nougat out of Travis”, who made the mistake of talking back to Orange Julius during his intermission “mock the poor people” pep talk. Trav offers himself up as the sacrificial lamb so no one has to risk taking a poke in the femoral artery and bleed to death. Some people opt to look their personal gift horse in the mouth and, rather than just let Travis die, take a chance with stabbing their neighbor instead. Not unlike the way I stab myself in the thigh with the old steak knife I keep next to my keyboard whenever I start zoning out while typing reviews.
Without going into too many specifics, the round ends with 2 victims, which is way more than any of the Stalkers in The Running Man were able to rack up. The remaining players attempt their coup (oddly devoid of background music) before Round 3, only to fail. One contestant tries some saber rattling with an actual saber, but his revenge is cut short by the gun that Shepard keeps on himself for just such as occasion. While the others are forced to return to the table, Iris escapes into the house’s basement, only to be snatched mere inches from freedom by none other than Julius Seize-Her *rimshot*. The living embodiment of a garbage bag full of used tissues attempts to rape our heroine, only to get a first hand taste of girl power as Iris beats the fluid out of the little douche bag and leaves him lying. Doc Barden (whose guilty conscience forces him to try and rescue Iris) appears intending to assist in her liberation, but his best efforts just make him the modern day Dick Halloran when his big ol’ PHD brain proves no match for Bevans’ peacemaker, mere seconds later. You can’t help but hear Groundskeeper Willy uttering “Ach, I’m bad at this!” from the ether.
Bev retrieves our leading lady, with Summer’s Eve being the one who gets punished for his uncouth behaviors. Nothing in a cool “gets his dick shot off” manner, though. The rat faced Pat Bateman wanna-be is just sent to his room and basically grounded from watching the rest of the game. Boo hoo.
Would You Rather Round 3 kicks off with the extant contestants not too happy that Iris gets to return to the game despite her near-successful dash for freedom. To be fair, running away is akin to a forfeit, but since she’s the Atlas upon whose shoulders our tale is told, their host turns a blind-eye to any repercussions. Then again, if you consider it, maybe adding Iris back into the game is her comeuppance? Whatever your opinion, the clash’s 3rd quarter is, as Shep calls it, “the known vs. the unknown”. Its gimmick revolves around a series of “punishment cards” issued randomly to each player via nondescript envelopes. Before opening their individual fates, they’re given a choice between gambling on what torment the card holds for them or spending 2 minutes held face down in a cask of H2O by Bevans. Given their host’s upper crustiness, I would imagine it’s VOSS or Volvic or at least Evian in there. Whatever its origin, as you may remember from grade school science, water is not a substance that humans can breathe.
Again, to avoid ruining the outcome of the scene for you I’m just going to tell you what the anonymous tortures consist of. One card entitles its holder to one free FULL dental extraction. Another requires its recipient to hold a lit quarter stick in their hand to completion. A third card forces its owner to slit open one of their eyeballs with a razor blade (at least they get to choose which one, so… that’s fair… right?). The final card, well… I’ll get to that. Now, though we may have shed our gills millions of years ago in the evolutionary march to now, scienticians have told us for ages that the average human can hold their breath for 2-3 minutes with relative ease. So, provided you don’t have a stroke, why wouldn’t anyone opt for the barrel instead of the card? Unless they’ve got “kid on christmas” syndrome and not knowing what’s in the envelope will make them go into seizures. Or you’re horrified of water because someone or someones very near and dear to you drown… which happened to one of the final four. Said player clearly doesn’t want that, so they opt for their card – FOUR minutes of face time with the supposed source of all life (and its fair share of death). Given such a “coincidence”, I have to wonder how true Lambrick’s claim was that these cards were issued completely at random. Hell, given the entire barrel concept I’d say its a safe bet that this entire round was targeting that self same player. Hmmm.
With two more eliminations courtesy of round 3, the game goes into its 4th and final showdown between our last two survivors. A coin toss to decide who goes first sees Iris win (like you didn't know she'd make it to the end) and she's presented with the following scenario: she and her opponent are both allowed to leave, pockets none the richer but both allowed to live, or she has one shot with a dueling pistol to kill the person across the table from her, in which case she stands the victor atop the bodies of her enemies and Raleigh gets an expansion on the figurative ranch house that is his life.
Now, here’s the fun part. If you’re adequately intrigued by this premise and want to keep your brain virginal so as to experience its finale for yourself sans spoilage, you have two choices to continue your adventure – allow me to pop your cherry and continue reading, or close this window immediately and read no further until you’ve watched Would You Rather, returning later instead. Make your choice now before reading further!
Iris' opposition offers up the sob story that brought them here in a last ditch effort to make us care about them, but Iris is even less interested than we are and puts them down before their guilt trip gambit can get past “I have 3 sisters”. Arrangements are made for Ral's operation, a donor was already found beforehand so the transplanted marrow will be on a plane to the US in less than a day, and on top of all that, Iris will be given enough money to take care of things for both of them while also getting the chance to go back and finish her education. She mutters out a mandatory “thank you” to her captor/savior and is taken home. Hooray! The Day is won! At a terrible cost of her humanity and likely any semblance of non-PTSD ravaged sleep for the rest of her life, granted, but at least it all worked out in the end!
…Until she gets home and discovers that Ralo pilled himself straight into deceasedhood while she was out.
There are only two real ways WYR should have ended for me. I would’ve accepted a happy ending (which I always do, ladies) had the final scene been a montage of Raleigh going through the surgery while Iris sat alone in a hospital waiting room until he comes out in the clear and the pair share a brother and sister moment of triumph, only to have a Psycho-ish final shot where the camera pans slowly in to Iris’ face, freezing on her eye, finally saturating into a grainy black & white while a sound byte of her screaming from earlier plays over it. Or, the ending we got, despite my telegraphing it as soon as we got the shot of little bro feeling guilty over his sister having to make special plans to have something as simple as dinner with her friends while probably worrying about him being home alone the whole time. My suspicions were proven as soon as the last few minutes of the movie focused on Iris checking on her “sleeping” brother before showering and getting some manner of rest only to discover Ral’s state when she goes to wake him the following morning. Hey, sometimes being right about the surprise awaiting you is even more satisfying than getting something out of left field just for the sake of an audience swerve.
I also thrive on “sad” finishes. When The Mist wrapped up, I laughed and cheered, clapping as Tom Jane crumbled into a heap of overwhelming, impotent horror. I love downer endings! The Empire Strikes Back was my favorite Star War. Not just because I find the standard issue “Hollywood ending” impractical for as many times as we’ve seen any and every conflict, no matter the scale, wrapped up with a last minute feel good resolution just in time for the end credits, but because I’m a callous prick who likes to see imaginary people suffer horrible losses. And sometimes real people… when the situation calls for it… or I’m just feeling sadistic… or when I can’t sleep… or when I sleep too much…
As a general statement, I’m not a big fan of what the faux-conservative types have long since labeled the “torture porn” subgenre. Clearly not due to some bullshit ethical quandary, given half the tirades I’ve thrown out here over the years. I didn’t mind Hostel, and I’m not against people enjoying movies whose main selling point is graphic violence. Hell, vulgar displays of blood and guts and meat and bones are always welcome in The Tomb! As sad as it may be to say, though, I’ve been doing this (i.e. criticizing “bad movies”) for almost 20 years. With extended gaps in between and having lost 90% of my material from before 2013, sure, but that’s still a LONG time in which I’ve seen a LOT of movies. Mutilating people for fun should be but a single bloodsoaked piece of your plot, not the whole thing. This is where Would You Rather becomes torture porn done right! It’s not just a group of masked sadists causing physical violence on wayward vacationers for kicks, it’s subjecting the characters and audience to psychological torments too. The fact that it doesn’t go to comical excesses the way something like a Troma movie would, and treats even potentially goofy things with a serious tone that makes it way more effective.
I do have a qualm or two with Shep’s excuse that he does all of this under the auspice that it’s for his guests’ “own good” to unveil each player’s “true character”. Just like Jigsaw always said his games were about “making the victims struggle to appreciate their lives and earn the right to keep living”, it’s all bullshit. Both guys are clearly just getting off on making people torture themselves and each other, so don’t pretend it’s some kind of higher level existential crap. They’re violent psychos with too much time and too many resources on their hands that could be making the world a better place, but instead choose to be self-indulgent assholes who can get away with murder, so they do. Repeatedly. Deal with it.
The setup for Shep’s game feels more than a little absurd, even beyond the whole “Iris just happens to live in the same general area, while everyone else was flown in from around the country”. And if you’re asking yourself “Why wouldn’t someone who survived the game have told the cops about all this?!”, that’s an easy one – since the winner is the only one to survive, and their entire motivation for going through with it was to live the rest of their life on the Lambrick Foundation’s tab, why would they go to the authorities? “But why didn’t the doctor just go to the cops when he decided to help Iris?!” you say? Why? So, provided he survives long enough to make it to trial, he can then spend a chunk of his life in prison for being an accessory (and get shower shivved by someone on the inside on Shepard’s behalf) while Lambrick’s money and standing within society gets him off? Sure, he was killed anyway, but chalk it up to the illusion that too many gun owners buy into the fantasy that they’re invincible… until someone else with a gun kills them… or someone without a gun just takes their gun from them and kills them.
I think my biggest logic fart with today’s flick is covering up all of the “unsuccessful” contestants. There’s no mention of how long the Lambs have been shepherding unknowing victims for their slaughter, but it’s been at least twice. Now, if the previous game included the same number of players, that’s 7 victims from each dinner, for a total of 14 people. Among those 14 people, you have to imagine than no less than, let’s say 4 of them must’ve told someone where they were going and what they were doing. Especially given that they were flown in from sea to shining sea. How has the game gone on this long, even if it’s only the second time, without any major red flags being raised over at least 14 missing people?! Given that those 14 people were brought to the house all expenses paid, there must be some kind of figurative paper trail to lead the authorities back to the fucking Lambrick Foundation! I enjoy your your concept in a style befitting of that one kid from Prince of Space (in other words, “Very much!”), and the story plays out entertainingly enough (especially that nod to The Shining with Doc), but the devil’s in the details Steffen Schlachtenhaufen (gesundheit!), so maybe fill in some of those plot holes next time for a smoother ride.
And this isn’t ‘MST3K’, so don’t tell me I should “really just relax” either!
Finally, the cast. Brittany Snow is a serviceable leading lady, at least in a movie where the focus is spread throughout a dozen or so people sitting around a table for most of the runtime. Not sure if she could have carried a more centrally focused flick, but that’s nothing to do with Would You Rather. On the opposite end of the lady spectrum, Sasha Grey makes a GREAT high-riding bitch! Then again, if you’d seen her dominating other women in as much of her, uhm, “other roles” as I have, you wouldn’t be surprised. On the other side of the chromosomal line, Robin “Lord” Taylor is as good a loathsome shit shucker as Grey is a massive cunt. The duo would’ve made a great couple, simply because seeing someone as attractive as her on his arm would’ve just made the audience want to feed him to an industrial lawnmower all the more!
I was a little disappointed that John Heard wasn’t around longer, especially since his character would’ve been drunk for the extent of the proceedings. Oh well, despite his short screen time, it was still better here than what he gave us in Sharknado. Speaking of letdowns, Eddie Steeples. Man, I had hopes to see something special out of the guy. He’s a solid comedy guy, so I was hoping to see how far he could stretch his legs with a dramatic role. Then again, the role didn’t exactly give him much to run with, so go piss up a rope with all that “no small parts” crap, Stanislavski! Everybody else in the movie? Fine. With the exception of Rob Wells’ slight resemblance to Danny McBride (who’s in Alien: Covenant – what the fuck?!), I doubt I’d recognize any one them in another movie ever again. There is always the possibility one of them could be involved in some crazy shit like that Ryan Jenkins “stuffed his dead wife’s naked body into a suitcase he then left in a dumpster” stuff, but I’d imagine not.
As for Combs? The reason we’re all here today? I thought he was amazing. The star of the show. He brought his overacting gloves to the set and a big appetite for that aforementioned scenery! He makes what could have been a throwaway evil rich guy into a memorable bastard who treats the entire game as an amusing but perfectly normal get together. He has a weird respect for the game and seems personally invested in the others’ actions, studying them and eager for the next surprise. He takes joy in it, but keeps a moderate air of dignity for the most part, keeping a firm hold on the reins as he leads the confused, frightened, angry guests through the challenges. He full on loses his cool during one scene and Combs’ voice cracks, but it adds a smidge of realism to the moment, much the same way that Veronica Carwright’s legit delivery during Alien‘s chestburster reveal helps lend it credence. I’m not recommending that JC’s act is going to wow everyone, but for my tastes, I really enjoyed it.
Much as I’d like to see a continuation of the Lambricks’ lethal luncheons, after 5 years I’m pretty sure we’re not getting a sequel. Then again, it was 41 years between Two-Thousand Maniacs and 2001 Maniacs, so as improbable as it is, nothing is impossible! Except that live-action Attack of the Super Monsters movie I keep bugging Senor Spielbergo to direct. That’s pretty impossible. Your lawyers can only protect you from my script for so long, Steven!
If a Would You Rather follow-up isn’t on the table, you know what should be? A board game and/or card game! See what I did there? Because of the table and the games that are played on tables? Yep. Anyway, if nothing else, WYR is screaming for a Kickstarter project to make such a thing happen!… wait, those may be the screams from my basement where I… left the TV on? Never mind!
That’s the tale of “When Anubis Watched Would You Rather”. It’s a nice solid step to start our journey through the next 100 episodes, which is sure to bring us sights, sounds, and stupid shit the likes of, well, what you generally expect from movies around here. You should give it a watch if you like seeing people suffer, you’re a fan of Pitch Perfect – Home Alone crossover fanfic, or you’re like me and worship at the alter of a JC whose hands you can really put your faith in. Combs be with you, brothers and sisters and everyone in-between.
Finally today, despite all of that Kylie Jenner commercial retardation, my stance as a proud Pepsi drinker was only reinforced recently, as it was revealed that President Nacho Cheez Dick Sneeze has a button in the oval office specifically for calling a butler to serve him his favorite beverage: Coca-Cola. Yep. Just imagine he and the rest of white trash Mount Rushmore (palin, nugent, and… uhm… “rock”) in a helicopter gunning down the hibernating Coca-Pola’ Bears this christmas. I think I just gave Hallmark their top-selling holiday offering in the southern and midwestern US markets for 2017!
Moral of the Story: You’ll never know if your dynamite’s a dud if you don’t light the fuse.
IFC Films – Buying back the indie cred our channel lost by putting out movies that no one in your family has ever heard of!
“I don’t care what the commercial said, just because pizza’s on a bagel does NOT mean you can eat pizza anytime!”
Maybe Jason Chaffetz was right. Maybe if Raleigh hadn’t spent all of his allowance on that PSP, he could’ve afforded to pay for an anti-Leukemia health plan! You know, cuz all it takes to prevent Cancer is $100 in GameStop trade-in credit…
“That’s just Norman. Don’t mind him, he’s just feeding peanuts to his imaginary baby elephant again. He doesn’t bite. The elephant I’m not so sure of.”
Brittany Snow is disappointed to discover that plans for the ‘Nurse Jackie’ prequel series she’d audition for have been scrapped.
Looks like he just asked her out for a drink sometime and she replied with “I don’t date… uhm… jazz people.”
Spoiler for Trainspotting 2 – Spud and Sick Boy one made a co-donation at the local sperm bank, and their grown up son comes looking for his two dads!
Disappointed that her blind date isn’t as interested in her as he is in their waitress, Iris begins playing footsie with herself.
“Come on, Fluffy! Do your trick! Show everyone your talent! He eats his steak with a knife and fork. It’s so cute. Usually he does it, but he might be too excited with everyone else here. Fluffy! DO THE TRICK!”
“So then Bill Bixby says, ‘You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry’ and starts hulking out like this as he turns into Lou Ferrigno! Grrrr!”
Someone implied the group should say Grace before dinner, not realizing that Shepard is a militant atheist. Shortly after this he started throwing mashed potatoes at them, screaming “Where’s your god now?!” and everyone agreed that Thanksgiving was ruined yet again.
Peter McCallister is briefly concerned that he left son Kevin home alone again, only to remember that Kevin was beaten to death by the Wet Bandits and disposed of in a river 10 years ago.
Ever since discovering Primer, Terrance has been trying to create his own time machine. Just tell him how good it looks and how smart he is, then walk away.
That’s what happens when you’re sitting across from Sasha Grey at a table and ask her if she was “any good” during her adult film days. Like two golf balls being sucked through a garden hose…
When your host tells you they run their home under “Singapore Rules”, DON’T leave your gum under the dinner table!
My grandma gives me the same look every time I try to explain how to access the on-screen guide via her cable remote. Hopefully no one tells her about DVR or I may just push her down her basement stairs.
People once believed that when someone dies, a crow carries their soul to the land of the dead. But sometimes,something so bad happens that a terrible sadness is carried with it and the soul can’t rest. Then sometimes, just sometimes, the crow can bring that soul back to put the wrong things right.
You know you had a hellish night out when you shower the morning after, look down, start seeing red randomly circling the drain and have no idea where it’s coming from.
Anubis will return next time in “Dicks Don’t Get Wet”
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Featuring: James “Black Milk” Johnston , Eliza “Boudica Bites Back” Russell , Marie Findley
Writer & Director: Ken “Tommy” Russell
Also Known As:The Fall of the Louse of Usher: a Gothic Tale for the 21st Century ; Ken Russell’s The Fall of the Louse of Usher
“Even if you come in here sane, no way you’re gonna get out of here anything but crazy!”
Guten tag, schmutz-kinder! Today marks the annual event known to wrestling fans as Wrestlemania. On a larf, I thought it would be fun to do a roundtable of reviews for Ken Russell movies. What does Ken Russell have to do with professional wrestling? Nothing. At least not that I know of. No, the theme for this gathering exists for no other reason than because it lends itself to the ‘table’s puntacular title!
Yep. That's the kinda shit I do. And thanks to my fellow cinemasochists for taking this journey with me! Though never a big Ken Russell fan, I have seen a few of his better known flicks. I thought Altered States was a fun acid trip through pseudo scientific madness, Tommy was an enjoyably dark and unique musical experience, and Lair of the White Worm is still one of my favorite flicks to come out of the UK and the definite catalyst for my bizarre attraction to serpentine women who want to eat me alive. Despite the creep-ass little goblin from the cover of the Gothic VHS being burned into my memory from childhood, I never got around to renting it. From what Ragnarok has to say in his review, it sounds like I didn’t miss much. Too bad that copy of The Devils I sent him was rerouted back to me via USPS, otherwise he could’ve reviewed that instead. Stupid lack of proper postage!
Before I get started, I’m throwing out the disclaimer that this review is going to be a rush job, so apologies if it lacks the polish (or Polish) of other episodes. I’ve been entangled on the battlefield of the mind in a war with the Overfiend for possession of my soul and just recently managed to lock the beast away in the Crystal of Zoloft, putting me at odds with my own predetermined due date. As such, I’ve filled my gut tank with several cans of Tear Ass energy drink from Dollar Embargo to give me the fuel I need and, as an odd side effect, the ability to taste color! I can confirm that, yes, purple is indeed a fruit. The only flavor they had on-shelf was the nebulous “Citrus X”. Unlike Chemical X, which turns inanimate objects into Powerpuffs, the only thing Citrus X transforms is the odor of your urine. My piss bucket smells like it’s full of orange peels swimming in battery acid. I’m not 100% sure my kidneys aren’t going to explode by the time we get to the moral of this story. Oh well. Sallying forthwith!
In the twilight of his career, Kenny Russell wasn’t much for movie making. He stuck with weird short subject shit for the most part, while my pick for this Celluloid Zeroes collaboration is the final feature length flick the freaky fiend filmed before punching his ticket to the Underworld in 2011. And when I say “filmed”, I don’t mean it literally, because The Fall of the Louse of Usher was shot entirely via camcorder!
Yes indeed my flowers and weeds, the technology your parents used to have to rely on when they wanted to make their own sex tapes (back when they were actual tapes) is the medium through which Uncle Ken chose to tell this backyard gothic rock opera of his. And I gotta say, upon discovering this, my immediate concerns were that I had been bamboozled and this wasn’t the same Ken Russell I was looking for. Learning that its legitimacy is legitimate however, I felt like I was watching home movies of someone’s grandpa in the final days of a fatal cancer diagnosis. Without mincing words, you just can’t shake that awful feeling of pity for seeing someone brought so low. Even if just done as a simple pet project to have fun with his friends and neighbors (which it was), it still feels so beneath what the man had done with his prestigious (or at least semi-prestigious) career that it’s… well… pathetic. If they’d kept it as a private joke to share with each other and bring out for summer barbecue viewings, that’d be one thing. But to put it out on a DVD and demand people pay to see it? By Roger Daltrey’s tasseled togs, are you fucking yankin’ my crank?! Clearly not, otherwise I’d have nothing to rag on here! Well, aside from the extension cord I use for a belt.
Roger Daltrey – Innovator of the “glue huge strands of cooked spaghetti to your sleeves” look.
Okay, enough puttin' off the lovin'. Let's rinse off our genitals, put on my Lou Bega mixtape of bone medleys, and bang this bitch out like Sean Michaels (the porn actor, not the wrestler)! Let's just hope we don't let loose any two-cheek squeaks (or squeakquels) while we're at it.
The setting for our story in simply “Orange County, USA” according to our opening. Okay, so is it the Orange County with the arguing family of motorcycle builders, the one with Mischa Barton, or one of the half-dozen other fucking Orange Counties in the damn country!? Though it’s later revealed that our setting is the West Coast edition, that tiny tidbit of info would’ve been nice to know beforehand. As Baphomet would say, “Bah”.
Roderick Usher (James Johnston, who doubles as the movie’s composer) is a goth rock musician 20 years behind the curve. Lead guitarist and singer/whiner (and occasional whisper rapper) of a heretofore unnamed band (might I suggest “The Poegues”?), he’s arrested for the suspected murder of his wife/maracas player, Annabelle Lee (Emma Millions), to whom everyone likes to attach the preface descriptor of “Sweet”. Not so sweet when she’s found walled up in the Usher house with half her face missing and her pet mini-pincher chewing through her guts! Since her rocker widower is clearly off his rocker at the time of his capture, barely coherent and ranting about his innocence, rather than going to prison Roddy’s instead carted off to the local loony bin. Here he’s put under the care of the demented Dr. Calahari (Ken Russell) and his sex bomb assistant, Nurse ABC Smith (Marie Findley).
Not a good sign of things to come… pun intended.
Not just another bimbo in a medical fetish costume, ABC (Already Been Chewed?) is one of those wonderfully empowered ladies who uses her sexuality to manipulate others into getting what she wants, the endgame of which is often something fatal for those seduced by her charms. Also, as everyone is keen to point out, “She’s a great piece of ass”. Pretty much what you’d expect from a Russell girl.
They’re similar to “Bond girls”, only way more likely to be emotionally damaged and way more likely to have some manner of underlying disfigurement that will make you paranoid of any woman who hits on you during last call. Not unlike how Basket Case taught women to never talk up any guy at a bar carrying a picnic basket.
Russell's oddball headshrinker has a penchant for wearing a variety of headpieces, which may or may not be the writer/director/producer/editor/cinematographer/actor's unsubtle pun to the audience that he himself is a “man of many hats”. Or, it could just be a sign that he had a bunch of goofy hats lying around in his home prop box that he thought would make for a running gag funny only to him. Either or. Said fetishizer of up top props also puts on a “hard to pinpoint but I'm pretty confident it's meant to be German because ABC keeps referring to him as 'Herr doktor'” accent that sounds exactly like the frantic urine lab doctor from the English dub of Dominion: Tank Police. And if you don’t know what that is, your life is a little less happy than it should be. Fix that. Soon. Or be forever denied existence as a complete person. Tank Police. Feel the power that we’ve got. We’ll give it our best shot.
No sooner is Rod tossed into his new cell then he starts in on the standard issue sexually deviant hallucinations that every lead of a Ken Russell movie suffers from. In this case, our hero envisions an orgy of blow up dolls that includes an inflatable dinosaur for added “Da fuq?!” factor. As he writhes, physically in his straight jacket and emotionally in his madness, ABC looks on intrigued. Speaking of our Nightingale on Elm Street, her role at the hospital is seemingly as Calahari’s personal caretaker more so than as his assistant. Much of their screen time together is spent with ABC feeding him, cleaning out his ears, and constantly checking the old fart’s vitals while they discuss the Usher case. Mayhaps the demented doc is a hypochondriac and needs frequent reassurance that he’s in stable health? Could it be that he’s due for a mandatory physical by the Department of Health? Then again, it may just be a thinly-veiled metaphor about how nurses tend to do all the work as doctors sit around getting fat off their fancy college degrees and trying their best to distinguish between a patient’s sphincter and a hole in the ground… which should probably raise some concerns from everyone given that doctors’ offices generally don’t include holes in their floors.
While DC and ABC try to unravel the mystery of Annabelle’s death (and whether it has anything to do with Roderick’s sister/violinist Madeline Usher [Ken’s wife Eliza Russell]) With a bona fide celebrity in their midst, Cal wants ‘Rick to perform for the institution’s patients-and-staff mixer, leaving it up to ABC to do the convincing. When her lusty demeanor isn’t enough to persuade the disturbed music maker, she confines him to a makeshift torture bed (that looks to be a beach chair with a blanket tossed over it) as a swinging pendulum butcher knife gradually descends back and forth above his pelvis. Though the protag laughs off her threat, citing an erectile deficiency, he’s not so sure of himself when XYZ reveals that she gave him Viagra. At the mere mention of her boner juice roofie job, Lil’ Rod (sounds like a personal problem) springs to life and Mr. Usher gives in to his caretaker’s demands. Good thing my doc’s accompanying CRN isn’t that hardcore. Being the world’s worst diabetic, she’d have had me paying dues to the Eunuchs Union Local 37 before you could say “THIS IS A MEDICAL EXAMINATION! STOP EATING THAT CHEESECAKE!”.
During the crazy people social soiree, Roderick is encouraged by Dr. C to get every available appendage he can up Nurse Smith’s very short uniform skirt. Hey, getting turned down by trim doesn’t mean you can’t encourage your fellow phallus holder to have a try! Bro code… or some horseshit. Anyway, Mr. Usher is then accosted by a pair of his fellow inmates that are heavy on a hippie astrology kick, asking him if he’s into “Ass-trology”, which I assure you that I certainly am. They allude to Miss ABC’s past interactions with a group called “The West Side Boys” which, from their intonations, presumably refers to some fucked up tribulations. More specifically, the ones spelled G-A-N-G-R-A-P-E.
No, not “gan grape” you nards! I meant “gang rape”. She had her flower forcibly plucked by a vulgar group of ne’er-do-wells with more testosterone than social grace. At least as far as I can infer. The later reveal that her entire erotic demeanor is made up of literal artificial bits and pieces (including that “great piece of ass!”) to disguise whatever shapeless horror she really is, postulates clearly that her outer self is a deceptive shell to hide the fragile truth beneath. Some obvious symbolism for Uncle Ken to waterboard us with. It’s an interesting visual representation, but is smashed so hard into our faces that it’s like being talked down to by a tech support rep that makes you wanna reach through the phone and elbow them in the throat.
I don’t do great with “message movies”. Unless they involve people getting run over en masse.
While Nursey Poo and The Rod explore their blossoming relationship, Dr. C uses the astrologist gals (one of whom is your typical old gypsy lady, while the other is a minstrel mummy… let that sink in) in an effort to Ouija up the soul of the slain Annabelle Lee and get the story of her demise straight from the victim’s protoplasmic mouth. Unable to establish a direct connection to the lass, they do manage to summon OSIRIS(!!!) instead, who speaks to them through the sacred vessel of… a Big Mouth Billy Bass.
Okay. This part got me. A surprise kidney punch of happiness I wasn't prepared for that left me on the floor with upturned lips ever so slightly trembling. This leads to a riddle that leads to a vibrating slinky version of those “weasel chasing a ball” toys that finally leads to the gypsy character divining that the question to the answer “The reveal of Annabelle Lee's true killer” is “What's the secret of her bones?”. Man, trying to force gags into a ‘Jeopardy!’ shaped mold requires mental gymnastics that my caffeine fueled cortex can’t fucking handle right now. This leads to Calahari sending his masked henchman Igor to retrieve Ann’s pearlies from her gravesite.
Taking a break from all story progress, Dr. Cal takes a scenic route scene to gloat to Roderick about his prized experiment – having hypnotized (via several props acquired from a Spencer’s Gifts clearance sale) a previous patient/guinea pig named Ernest Valdemar (Peter Mastin) in the midst of the man’s death throes, allowing Ernie’s mind to continue living indefinitely and communicating through a voice amplification box despite the death of the rest of his body… except for the part about how his jaw and eyes are still functional, and the other part about how THE BRAIN CANNOT SURVIVE WITHOUT BLOOD FLOW OR OXYGEN. Unfortunately, despite Mr. V’s predicament being an interesting piece about a person buried alive in the grave of his own corpse for 7 months, this bit of sidetrack has zilch to do with Rod’s tale and only serves as a *wink*wink*nudge*nudge* to EAP readers that reeks of time filler.
Sick Destro cosplay, bro!
Speaking of filler, the next segment takes the same theme, makes like a looter with a new TV and runs with it. Calahari has a therapy session with a woman hidden behind a mask who has some weird psycho-sexual fear of garden gnomes. Through his mania-delving analysis, the doc helps her realize she's actually famed femme fatale female wrestler, Beulah Von Birmingham (Sandra Scott)! Her revelation is interrupted when a masked prostitute named Mary (Mrs. Russell again) inserts herself into the scenario, declaring herself a birthday present to Roderick from his big sister… while ironically being played by the same woman who plays his big sister. Beulah recognizes her as one of her wrestling rivals though, and the pair have a no holds barred hardcore brawl for supremacy! It degrades into the two just dry humping each other before the silliness subsides prematurely with the pair escaping over a wall via convenient step ladder, to the chagrin of Calahari who planned to imprison the pair in his crazy house. Again, fun random bit of wackiness, but also again, entirely disconnected from having anything to do with advancing the damn story!
Wait a sec… Whoa. That’s a bit weird, isn’t it? I establish this review on the basis of its creator’s surname being a pun on the word “wrestle”, and ultimately there’s a scene of female wrestlers doing just that. The hypothesis of my subconscious being an astral projected time traveler while I sleep gains more and more traction. Nanoo fucking nannoo.
When Igor returns with the disinterred dentures of a dozen or so Ushers buried in the same boneyard (or, purchased from a gumball machine outside the corner deli as the case more likely is), Annabelle’s rise from the collection and hint at Poe’s short story ‘The Murders at the Rue Morgue’ as being the key to unlocking what really happened to her. Cal deciphers this as meaning Rod’s wife was actually murdered by a gorilla, but before he can question this logic further he’s called away to Valdemar’s room, where his pet zombie finally gives up the ghost. As if that weren’t enough to upset the bloated old goat, the institute’s previous staff, which the doctor had apparently imprisoned in the asylum’s basement for challenging his “revolutionary methods”, have somehow escaped (or at least the two members we’re ever privy to) and are wilding throughout the building in pursuit of revenge! Less the “pee in the communal coffee pot at work” type and more the “Carrie White on prom night” version.
Roddy, herr doktor, the old gypsy (now wearing a tea cozy on her head) and the blackface mummy lady escape the hospital with all limbs intact, returning to the Usher Estate. Once there, ‘Ricky discovers beloved sister Madeline dead at her own hand on what looks to be a teenage girl’s bed, amid some topless statues in the yard. Seems the “fake news” media reported that her brother had died in the sanitarium riot and the resultant grief with which she was overtaken pushed her to Romeo & Juliet herself, leaving behind a recorded confession (played for them by a crimson faced gorilla) that she was the one who prematurely punched Sweet Annabelle Lee’s mortality ticket! In the thralls of his own heartbreak, little brother Usher demands Death take him too, to which Dr. C relinquishes with an injection of something lethal. The duo are laid in state in their yard, surrounded by potted flowers probably taken from the dumpster behind the WalMart Garden Center.
With 15 minutes left in the movie, the aforementioned gorilla gather the remaining trio of guests in the siblings’ old childhood playhouse to view a VHS tape (played in a microwave for laughs). The vid is a further confession by Mad Maddie, telling of how she used Gory (the gorilla) to kill Annabelle with an obedience chip that the family had planted in the hulking simian’s brain after the poor brute was rescued from an abusive trainer. Thanks to an off-brand Playstation 2 controller, Mads maliciously manipulated the monkey into murdering her only rival for her dear brother’s dingus. From here it’s all about wrapping shit up, as Calahari is captured and returned to the asylum to undergo treatment, Nurse ABC is fine (except for an unexplained hand crushing incident in the end), Roderick and Madeline’s souls descend to hell on a righteous deflating bouncy castle, and their son and daughter prepare to move back into their family home with Gory now that everyone else has been driven away… I’m not going to explain anything from that last sentence, as I’ll leave it up to your own minds to fill in the blanks that, well, we’re never given anyway.
Unless Russell’s next of kin have some 2-4-5 Trioxin laying around, I’m pretty sure this is the end.
And there it is: Ken Russell’s final feature, The Fall of the Louse of Usher. Though greatly hampered by its poor choice of medium and “let’s just use what we’ve got lying around our houses!” budget, there’s actually a lot of entertainment to be had. The sound quality isn’t great, sometimes even bordering on horrible as it makes certain scenes almost completely auditorially illegible, with the worst being a stair well exchange that’s nothing but shouty echoes. Speaking of noise, one of my least liked parts of this cacophony of crazy are the awful little music videos that Rod and Mad made for their band, not the least bothersome of which involves the siblings being all “anguished high school goth kids” (well into their thirties/forties) with each other in a cemetery, dragging numerous visual aids about their incest relationship across our faces where, like the scrotum intimation I’m trying to make here, none were needed.
The cast is actually pretty solid for a buncha no-names. Not everyone, mind you, but our top-of-the-credits trio – Johnston, Findley & Mr. Russell – all make this a much more pleasant pill to swallow. Their characters are entertaining if not always interesting and their performances are appropriately campy without going overboard. Broken heart throb Roderick is well lost in the forest of confusion and desperate to find his way out; Nurse ABC carries a sensuality, charm and foreboding smile reminiscent of Cassandra Peterson’s beloved Elvira or a mash-up of Rocky Horror’s Columbia & Magenta; and Doc Calahari is a kooky crackpot who’s really a lot of fun to watch when you warm up to him, even in spite of Russell’s absurd German-ish accent, which grows on you if your ears don’t revolt against you first.
If you’re a Poe nerd, or have a Poe nerd in your life, you’ll enjoy picking out Louse‘s varied variety of references to the godfather of goth’s library of extensive materials. Some are obvious, some are a bit more obscure, and still others I’m sure I missed entirely because I’m barely acquainted with the chronically depressed fiveheaded oddball’s greatest hits, let alone his deep cut ditties. If what I’ve heard was true, Louse of Usher is a much better homage to Eddie Allan’s efforts than 2012’s The Raven, so again, consider it for the Poephile in your presence. And don’t you worry John Cusack, I’ll be kicking down your door sooner or later with crackling criticisms to burn your nose hair by!
The “gothic tale for the 21st century” has great potential that peeks out from behind its discounted Halloween seasonal mall shop props and modified tool shed sets, and with a little bit of script tampering and an injection of capital, I think, sans hyperbole, that TFotLoU could have easily been another Rocky Horror! Hell, with a Kickstarter campaign and some talented hands, it could still be. It’s as likely as Hulk Hogan playing the dad in a(nother) remake of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, but it’s fun to think of what could have been. Speaking of what could have been…
Hey! I finally made it to episode 100! It only took me… gimme a sec here…
Three and a half years. Shit. That’s an average of 2-3 reviews per month. Double shit. Billy Bass Osiris damn me and whatever wacky fantasy scenario I’m using today to stunt double for my real life personal hindrances. Oh well. I’ve got a pot of chili and a copy of Cannibal Killer Clowns on Dope calling my name with their siren song, so let’s hurry this up and just say it’s a case of quality over quantity.
Moral of the Story: If you ever want to get out of a mental institute alive, never question the sanity of the staff.
On the topic of superior quality, go treat yourself to some more RussellMania from our fellow Zeroes!
I envision a lawsuit by the Estate of Edgar Allan Poe against the Estate of Ken Russell as presided over by the Estate of Judge Wopner here, in ‘The Dead Peoples’ Court’.
See, shit like that is why you’ll never get me within a mile of a LASIK office!
“I have to say, when my wife said she’d gotten me that reverse-gangbang I’d always wanted for my birthday, I wasn’t expecting… well… this. Oh well, let’s make the best of it, girls!”
Yes, kids, Ken Russell as a literal dick nose.
Scary Movie prop mask purchased from Marlon Wayans’ “Fund the next A Haunted House sequel” yard sale.
The New Slash Co. Mark 12 collection of knives! They’ll cut through shoe leather, a soda can and a full-sized rhinoceros, and STILL sever a human head like it were a ripe tomato without a single sharpening! I’d buy that for a dollar!
What? You’ve never been to a white trash Eyes Wide Shut party before?
My sex shed is way nicer than theirs!
“With the Psychic Readers Network, you can get in touch with the Egyptian gods for advice on life, love, and lucky lottery numbers for just $2.99 per minute! Call me NOW!”
Saint Polident – the Patron Saint of Denture Cleansers and veteran of the 100 Years Crusade against the kingdom of the Cavity Creeps.
And this is why I never trust elderly women in lingerie who ask me if I want to “smell their flower”.
A scene from Annie Sprinkle’s long-since-banned educational video for elementary school children on how bees pollinate flowers.
My attempts at bringing my own Frankensteinian meatloaf man to life didn’t go as I had hoped… at least he made for some delicious leftovers!
The only surviving still from a proposed 1992 reboot of Planet of the Apes that, I think we can all agree, would have probably been too awesomely reprehensible for this world anyway.
Alright! The Better Homes and Gardens annual “DIY Funerary Displays on a Budget” issue is out! They printed my article in this one!
In 1997, Nintendo introduced the first “rumble” function for video game controllers, causing them to vibrate as a form of sensory feedback for players to help increase their immersion in the games. 20 years after the introduction of vibrating controllers, females now make up nearly 50% of video gamers. Coincidence? My eye.
Anubis will return next time in “Guess Who’s Dying at Dinner”
Enjoy the review? Hate the review? Have a movie you’d like to see judged in The Tomb? Fill out the feedback form! Never has it been easier to make contact with a deitic being!
Featuring: Manu “Arrow” Bennett , Marci “Days of Our Lives” Miller , Malcolm “A Clockwork Orange” McDowell
Director: GJ “Virtually Heroes” Echternkamp
Writers: GJ “Frank and Cindy” Echternkamp & Matt “Virtually Heroes” Yamashita
Remake of:Death Race 2000
Also Known As:Roger Corman’s Death Race 2050
This Episode Personally Approved By: GJ Echternkamp (Director/Writer)!
“Your review of Death Race 2050 was one of the funniest things I’ve ever read… thanks for making my night!”
“It’s like having sex with 500 men at once – awesome.”
So,we’re only two weeks into the new year and already David Blaine has shot himself in the mouth and Martin “Shcrotin” Shkreli has gotten a face full of doggy dung. Don’t do it, 2017. Don’t tease me like this. After all the bullshit that 2016 pulled, you’re gonna have to give me a LOT more than this to wash off the stink of your predecessor’s legacy! Now, if you were to have Blaine and Criss Angel kill each other off in some form of magician blood feud a la The Prestige and have Shkreli choke to death on a log of piping hot canine crap straight from the pooch’s poop chute, you’d score a fair bucket of cred with both myself and many others. But you’re on super double secret probation until at least mid-April, so keep your nose clean.
Speaking of 2016, despite the murder spree we all witnessed over the length of the last calendar, you know who survived the celebrity serial killer year-that-was? Roger Corman! The spiritual successor of Ed Wood hasn’t directed a flick in over 25 years, but that sure as shit hasn’t stopped the master of the minuscule budget from keeping the bad movie spawning beds bubbling atop his “Producer” chair throne. Much as my opinion of the man’s work ebbs and flows with the shifting of the sands, I will not deny that Cor-Man is the friggin’ Jack LaLanne of schlock. My all time favorite of his features? Without hesitation – Death Race 2000.
If you don’t know that which DR2K is about, it better be because you’re younger than the carton of cottage cheese long thought lost in the dark recesses of my fridge. Why haven’t I thrown it out yet? By the time I found it, I was too afraid to open it, let alone lay my hands upon it. Know what’s in there? Me neither. Let’s keep it that way. Back on topic, DR2K is a 1975 flick that plays like a live-action “Speed Racer” cartoon if it came with an ‘R’ rating and revolved around turning pedestrians into street meat. It was Cannonball Run meets Rollerball. So it was Rollerball Run, I guess. Also, it was already remade in 2008 as just Death Race, as some kind of edgy gay prison sex action-drama art house film starring Jason Statham and Tyrese Gibson also executive produced by Roger Corman. It had two sequels, with a third currently in production as of this review. Samuel L. Jackson that’s a lot of spin-offs for a movie that’s never had an actual sequel! Good on Mr. HardCorman for beating every last cent out of that dead horse. At least it’s his own and he’s not just Michael Bay-ing off of someone else’s work. Speaking of deceased equines, let’s saddle up this thoroughbred and see if it’s riding majestically into the sunset or shuffling off to the Elmer’s plant.
Oh yeah, so (not my) president Pissler and his turd reich are on their way into the White House soon, and though I had another movie in mind to mark the end of civilization as we know it, DR2050 dropped itself face first into my lap instead, and the timing was just too perfect not to unzip. As such, if you were shivering with antici………..pation for this as much as I was, well, urine luck!
For those who have already seen Death Race 2000, you can pretty much Choose Your Own Adventure the next few paragraphs and turn to “Page 32”. For those new to the game, continue on to “Page 7”.
30 or so years in the future, the USA is a much different landscape. Well, it’ll probably be like looking in a mirror 4 or so years in the future from where we are now, but let’s all try to escape reality for a few minutes together and focus on the flick. Corporations have hijacked the land of milk and honey and turned it into Occupy Wall Street’s worst night terror, going so overboard as to rename the nation The United Corporations of America. This “re-branding” includes the replacement of the stars on the flag with dollar signs. Like the most constipated man in history would say, I shit you not. The states have been divided among the most elite of the 1% and also re-branded with new monikers to reflect their new owners, and in some cases strip mined of every available resource straight into hellholes that only extras from a Mad Max movie would be fit to survive in. Sitting atop this smoldering shit heap is the Chairman (Malcolm McDowell), whose goofy haircut, bold faced lies and constant disregard for the welfare of his citizens in favor of bilking every last cent out of their pockets make him an obvious parody of a certain baby-handed megalomaniac obsessed with swimming in gold, and I don’t mean the way Scrooge McDuck does.
With the advancement of medical technology, mankind has managed to eliminate life-threatening diseases like cancer, while also giving the people an Extended Play in the game of life, with most living into the triple digits like it’s no big deal. The resultant unexpected population explosion (remember, guys like the Chairman don’t listen to any science that doesn’t bump up their profit margin) left the nation with an immediate need to relocate their excess citizenry. But, since the UCA grabbed the other nations of the world by their pussies with nuclear rape hands, the remainder of the planet’s kinda unlivable. Hence, violent competitions were established where the participants murder the peasantry en masse for the entertainment of said peasantry smart enough to stay home and watch instead. On that note, cue the theme music as we present you with Death Race: a cross-country rally style automotive conflict whose drivers (and their navigators/co-pilots) do their damnedest to turn every person along the path into meat bag versions of the Incredible Crash Dummies. You know, the characters from that weird ’90s cartoon/toy line, not that weird ’90s band/reason I uncontrollably punch people who hum as hard as I can in the face… with a knife.
Not everybody in the UCA is down with an entertainment industry based on a “re-envisioning” of the Roman Colosseum days. Said like-minded individuals have become a like-minded institution of rebels working toward the common goal of “waking up the sheeple” (I hate young people) and uniting the common folk against their corporate oppressors. How? By stopping the Death Race! How? By killing the drivers! These inept understudies from an off-Broadway musical version of Beyond Thunderdome are lead by an ex government Head of Programming-turned-revolutionary hard-ass named Alexis, who’s played by the former starlet of TNT’s ”Witchblade” TV series – Yancy Butler! Oh, nobody remembers ”Witchblade”? Well, fist my ass.
NOT WITH THAT!
And now, your Death Race racer roster!
Frankenstein (Manu Bennett) – Dressed up like a leather daddy wearing a lava golem mask that may or may not be made from re-purposed tire rubber, this four time winner of Death Races past is a manly man budget version of Tom Hardy and the franchise hero of the coast-to-coast abattoir. Bearing the title of Mary Shelley’s most memorable monster (Victor, not his patchwork zombie “son”), he’s survived his fair share of fender benders thanks to the advanced cyber-prosthesis that have left him a mechanical man. Query: though this explains the Frankenstein name, was his name always Frankenstein, even before he became a walking quilt of flesh and circuitry? Enquiring minds are mildly curious! His co-pilot Annie (Marci Miller) is our main man’s mandatory love interest, so try not to be surprised when their elementary school playground name calling and verbal sparring turns into a begrudging union of souls. Finally, am I the only one who looks at Frankie’s car and can’t stop seeing the TMNT Footski toy?
Jed Perfectus (Burt Grinstead) – The self-proclaimed apex of manliness and a nonstop testosterone factory, Perfectus is the test tube baby byproduct of a genetic engineering experiment tasked with making the ultimate male. He’s determined to defeat Frankenstein (to the point of obsession) and prove himself the new hero that the Death Race fans deserve. A blond-haired, blue-eyed Aryan asshole, this personification of the Übermensch would have Hitler creaming his pants so hard you’d think he’d just poured bottles of Coffee-Mate down both pockets. All that aggressive man juice pumping through his brain makes Jed a bit of a psycho though, so when he strips down to his golden Rocky Horror skivvies and his mole-covered pecs get to flexing, prepare for some of the old ultra-violence. Though the gay jokes are frequent and expected, in spite of them, Jed’s fractured mental state is actually an interesting study in the dangers of toxic masculinity. Unlike the prior picture’s antagonist, Machine Gun Joe, Jed opts for a spear gun over a Tommy Gun. Given the whole “insecure man” angle, I’m sure that’s not just a Freudian slip on the peel of a Freudian banana. Wakka wakka!
Tammy (Anessa Ramsey) – Also known by the nom de carnage of “Tammy the Terrorist”, I’m pretty sure this mid-western religious nut heralded by the stink of brimstone and burnt rubber is named after the infamous Tammy Faye-Bakker. Then again, her lack of comically heavy makeup could indicate otherwise. Whatever the case, Tammy here bears no small resemblance to an out-of-work Jaime Pressly. She’s dressed to the nines in her eye-blisteringly “’MERICA!” outfit that approximates a grown-up version of something you’d see at one of those creepy Dallas prostitot beauty pageants that I’m pretty sure are just massive bait traps for pedophiles. Her white trash Barbarella fashion senselessness aside, Tammy’s defining trait is that she’s the leader of a religious extremist group (i.e. suicide bombers) who worship dead celebrities from the past, so expect numerous name drops along the lines of James Dean, David Bowie, Elvis Presley and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. In case it wasn’t blatant enough for you (or you just weren’t paying attention), she represents the ridiculous forms that celebrity worship can take and the dangers that faith can lead to in the wrong hands.
Minerva Jefferson (Folake Olowofoyeku) – The obvious foil for Miss Tammy, Minerva is a hard-nosed hip hop harlot draped in bad girl bling who’s made a career out of calling for the killing of white people. Not “Whitey” or “The Man” in particular, mind you, but Caucasians as a whole. And no, not Caucasian ass-a-holes specifically, hyuk hyuk. Though I’m a member of the “rap is crap” mentality, as a self-hating honky I probably relate more to Minerva’s motivations than any of the other drivers’. Her car (the Whitey Whacker) has a pair of external speakers that are supposedly so loud they can make peoples’ heads explode, but I’m not sure that’s how sound waves work. Minerva’s latest hit single is in honor of her enrollment in the competition and it’s no surprise that it’s just her chanting “Drive! Drive! Kill! Kill!” to a generic backing track. It’s all a flagrant rip-off of a Homer Is B.I.G. track, anyway.
ABE (voiced by D.C. Douglas) – The fifth and final perforator of pedestrian entrails in this endeavor is even less human than Jed! That’s because this driver is actually the K.I.T.T. of the movie, minus Mr. Feeny’s voice or Mitch Buchannon’s ass in its face. The AI’s creator/co-pilot/girlfriend is Dr. Von
Creamer (Helen Loris)… wait… “girlfriend”? Yep. Though we’re given no background on the self-driving murder machine’s origins, going by Creamy’s frequent usage of its passenger pleasure functions, I’m gonna go with the safe bet that the doctor’s obsession with creating the ultimate vibrator got so out-of-hand that she couldn’t keep it a secret from whoever supplied her research grant, so she just said it was a Death Race car and ended up here. Interestingly enough, ABE (the meaning of whose acronym is also ignored) presents us with the ages old “What’s the meaning of life?” query as applied to an AI. Curiouser and curiouser.
And that’s as deep as I’m gonna delve into this gumball rally of gore. For returning audiences wondering where the flick’s endgame lies, it’s both familiar and new. Not soul crushingly new like New Coke, but more “better than we feared” new like the New Mutants. Also, no, that certain beloved pun-based explosive device (you know the one) does not make a return, despite it fitting this flicks goofy-as-fuck tone. A tad sad, but that’s just the way it is. At least we got this guy, so it’s not like we’re left empty handed!
Find someone who loves you the way this guy loves his giant fiberglass wiener.
So there you have it – Death Race 2050. I’m not gonna lie to you (or am I?), but upon my first viewing of it, I was the kid on Cthulhumas morning who was anticipating a severed head awaiting me under the burning tree of madness, only to find a basket of graphically soiled hobo underwear instead. I was hoping for a movie more akin to Death Race 2000 – a lower budget think piece disguised as a campy celebration of the normalization of violence. What I got was a slightly higher budgeted version of Death Racers with much the same eye violatingly miserable digital effects, written by people to whom the word “subtlety” seems to have a “that which shall not be named” air to it. An embodiment of every vulgarity Echternkamp and Yamashita recoiled at during their formative years, and have since become straight phobias. An offense equal to shitting into their respective grandmothers’ mouths.
Upon my second viewing though, I had one of those RARE changes of heart. Having suffered the shit tier special effects once and watching it with my expectational loins properly girded, I was able to ignore the visual garbage fire and really enjoy the extreme lengths to which Brand Echt and Holy ‘Shita didn’t just put their plans out there for us to see, but fired them into our faces via figurative bazooka. Their revulsion of subtlety works in their favor! It gives the whole movie a boost of Idiocracy style absurdity with a hot beef injection of Troma type energy, blatant sociopolitical subject matter, and tongues so firmly in-cheek that they’re seeing daylight. And in today’s climate? Being released mere days before Pissler’s inauguration? You couldn’t have picked a better time to release a movie like this if you had a DeLorean with a souped-up Mr. Coffee strapped to it. It’s one of those movies whose dialogue is endlessly quotable too, so if you hate flicks that focus on snappy-like-a-mousetrap exchanges and one-liners over more realistic speak, take your bland ass elsewhere.
Speaking of great lines, they’re nothing without proper delivery, which is where our cast comes in. And what a cast they are! All of the racers feel fleshed out, with their own defining moments and personal conflicts. The political participants and co-pilots (except Annie of course) have less dimensions than the characters in Megan Fox’s filmography, but the main cast tow the film fine on their own. The lines feel so natural coming out of their mouths that you almost feel like the characters themselves were tailored for the actors. It’s not high drama Oscar stuff. We’re not seeing the next generation of Streeps and DiCaprios here, but for what the roles required, I don’t think we could’ve gotten better than this batch of relative nobodies. That might sound like faint praise, but coming from someone who’d rather cuddle David Carradine’s bloated corpse in a closet for a night than watch The Departed again, consider it my official approval. Officially.
No matter how much I can indulge in everything else though, none of this helps wipe away the stain of DR2050‘s hideous coat of shit colored digital paint. It hangs heavy over the whole thing like a big brown cloud blotting out the sun. I hate the person who invented computer generated cars. And computer generated explosions. And computer generated gore. Fuck he/she/them with a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire and soaked in ghost pepper sauce. I blame The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, but then I tend to blame Tokyo Drift for most of the problems in my life. Every time I stub my toe or get a paper cut, you can usually hear me shouting “TOKYO DRIFT!” at the top of my lungs. ‘Struth.
In case It wasn’t obvious, I’m recommending this movie for those readers looking to have a laugh with a VERY liberal lean. Just go in expecting Syfy Original “quality” computer effects and you’re less likely to be as mortified as I was at first. If you’re looking for more serious car combat, watch Death Race instead (or again), or just let Fury Road blow your mind for the 20th time. Either way, I’ve had my say, so here’s to hoping it made your day. Later, taters!
Moral of the Story: God is a woman, and she is black as fuck.
“What’s new, pussycat? Whoooooa oh oooooooh!”
“Prop Corn”? What, they couldn’t afford the real stuff? I’m not saying it had to be a case of that fancy Redenbacher bastard’s stuff, but nobody could just pony up for a few bags of generic store brand popcorn?!
In the future, people will be able to splice their genes with other species, Moreau style. Amanda here has just started her transition into a Lepus-American, and we at The Tomb wish her all the best!
Sadly, it’s not whether the black and Asian characters will be killed off, but which one will die first. Sorry, minorities.
“Oh no, darling. This isn’t an oral exam camera. Turn around and think warm thoughts!”
Our hero looks like the gimp from an intergalactic Ilsa movie.
Frankenstein and his car pose for their action figure box art.
From an alternate reality in which Michael Jackson lived well into his 80s and became not just the king of pop, but the king of the world.
NOT the type of face you want to wake up to! Or step out of the shower to! Or… come home to… or… you know what, no one should ever have to see that face… ever.
“How’s our repeal of The Constitution coming along? What do you mean ‘What are we going to replace it with’? No we don’t have anything to replace it with! That didn’t stop us from repealing Obamacare or Social Services, why should it stop us now?!”
“They actually think the audience is going to believe these painted dollar store swimming goggles are VR glasses! Ha ha ha ha ha!”
Presenting Mister & Missus Carl’s Jr. 2017!
“You see these sunglasses? They cost more than your car! Why? What’s so great about them? I DON’T FUCKING KNOW! IT DOESN’T MATTER! They cost more than any other pair of sunglasses, so that makes them (and by proxy ME) better!”
When your shadowcast’s Riff Raff calls in sick and Rocky has to pull double duty.
Gah! I’m being haunted by the ghost of Liberace!
I once ate a rancid can of alphabet soup on a dare, and the resultant game of gastric Scrabble I played in the toilet afterward spelled out something like that.
Anubis will return next time in “How Gurdy Got His Groove Back”
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Featuring: Ángel “Street Knight” Vargas , Vera “Stigmata” Yell , Lee “Once played an uncredited drug dealer on an episode of ‘The Young and the Restless‘” Marks
Director: Craig “Dead South” Ross Jr.
Writers: Carl “Urban Massacre” Washington
Followed by:Killjoy 2: Deliverance From Evil ; Killjoy 3 ; Killjoy Goes to Hell ; Killjoy’s Psycho Circus
“Damn, this motherfucker got some big ass feet!”
A glorious day to you, my heathens and sheathens! It’s me, it’s me, your A-N-U-B… I-S. Always rousing suspicions and arousing suspicious women! From Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man to House of Frankenstein to Frankenstein Vs. Baragon, everybody loves a crossover. Tapping into that vein for so much of its delicious delicious blood, I bring you the “Turkey Day Month Casually Mingles with the Year of the Painted Horrors” pairing you never knew you wanted (because you probably won’t) – Killjoy!
And boy does it fucking ever. I haven't seen a movie so forthcoming with its titular content since New York City Lesbian Gangbang.
Fun fact: I once couch crashed for a week in the Brooklyn apartment of Maria DaMaris, one of the titular participants of said location specific “no Y chromosomes allowed” flesh exchange. It’s true! Also, despite my emphasis of the “tit” in “titular”, Maria’s major physical asset is her posterior, even after her breasticular supplementation procedure. Also also, I was there as a regular guest, not as a sexy guest. Also also also, I may or may not have masturbated repeatedly in her shower…
Remember back at the turn of the century, when Charles Band tried to re-ignite the Blaxploitation subgenre in the late-90s/early-00s with his Alchemy Entertainment/Big City Pictures “urban horror” label? Whether it was a note of romantic intent to the ’70s milestone of cinematic screwiness or just a cheap marketing attempt to convince black and “pale skinned appropriators of urban African-American culture” (you know, “whiggers”) audiences to buy into his bullshit, it happened either way. The tent poles of this inner-city circus were The Horrible Doctor Bones, Ragdoll, and the face-painted farce of fear from today’s feature. Given that we never got Ragdoll Vs. Dollman or the much hoped for prequel Doctor Bones: the College Years, while Killjoy would see the light of DVD again and again in no less than a trio of sequels, the Dollar Embargo Pennywise knock-off was the sole survivor of the label’s purge. His adventures culminated with 2012’s Killjoy Goes to Hell, but unlike a certain masked menace who did the same 15 years prior, this monstrous mischief maker has yet to find his way back.
Oh wait, scratch that. It looks like Chuck Band has summoned his jugular juggling jester back from the lake of fire for the recently released Killjoy’s Psycho Circus. Fuck me.
Speaking of getting fucked, I’m reviewing my physical copy of this movie, which is included on a single disc with both the second and third such flicks that were available at the time. The main menu of the trilogy has no extras or options, simply offering the ability to select each movie individually, or to “Play All”… Who THE FUCK marathons the first three Killjoy movies?! This isn’t the original Star Wars or Indiana Jones trilogies! Fuck’s sake, my juice is dried up by the finish of the first film, let alone would I ever have enough left over to even attempt another 3 hours of half-baked harlequin horrors after the fact! Speaking of juices, let’s squeeze this rancid orange (I’m sorry, president rancid orange) for all its worth and hope we don’t get any in our eyes. Sally forth!
In case you weren’t aware that Killjoy was shot almost 20 years ago, it’s made very apparent from the start as our two allegedly high school age female leads, Monique (Dee Dee Austin) and Jada (Vera Yell), exchange dialogue likes extras out of “Martin”. The Martin Lawrence comedy, not the George Romero “vampire who’s not a vampire” movie, in case I needed to be clear. Their deep conversation on the ethical quandary of “using a boy for his phat ride because you’re tired of walking home from school” is interrupted by nice guy Michael (Jamal Grimes), who’s got a heart-on for Jada, despite Monique’s clear disgust of him and, well, pretty much any guy who doesn’t offer to drive her around in their Mustang convertible. Much as Jada opts to treat the lad like a human being, and may even have a little appreciation for his blatant affections for her, it’s made very clear that Mikey’s immediate future will be in a body bag if Jada’s boyfriend Lorenzo (the oil guy?) discovers the pair have been conversing. Despite all this, Mike still feels compelled to spit into the wind and asks Jada to their school homecoming dance. If you think this is the perfect place for this poor man’s Dulé Hill to get his Jansport kicked in and the Puma logo imprinted on his pancreas, you’d be a way better predictor than Nate Silver right now!
And if you don’t know who Dulé Hill is, I’ll do you a favor: he was the black guy on “Psyche”. Yeah, the one who looks kinda like he played Kenny/Bud on “The Cosby Show” in the ’80s, but didn’t. That’s Deon Richmond, who was in the 2011 Kevin Sorbo, Danny Trejo movie Poolboy: Drowning Out the Fury… Sorry, just trying to avoid talking about Killjoy. I’ll get back to swallowing this capsule of broken glass now.
Featuring all of the cinematic professionalism of an after-school special, our movie actually starts like one too! In true movie fashion, this is the scene that “hood thug stereotype that red states think all black people look and act like” Lorenzo (William Johnson) and his cronies T-Bone (Corey Hampton) and Baby Boy (Rani Goulant) roll up upon. Mikey receives the beating alluded to previously, courtesy of the “even more of a hood thug stereotype than his boss” T-Bone, as Jada screams in protest. Though seemingly vicious in execution, NY Strip’s assault doesn’t draw an ounce of blood (probably no room in the budget), while the most vicious blow is made instead by ‘Zo, who steps on Piggy’s specs and tells him not to be caught “slippin”. Getting up with relative ease despite his back being the stage for Porterhouse’s stomp dancing (maybe the bully was wearing Pumps, so it was like being stomped with little hemorrhoid donuts?), Michael shoots some pretty harsh stink-eye at a nearby homeless man who offered no help during the incident. Our hero (by default, I guess) then goes home and does what any victim of a tragic love triangle would do – attempt to summon a vengeful spirit named Killjoy by sitting in the center of a circle of his mom’s votive candles and angrily manhandling a clown doll!
No fucking attempt at explaining Mikey’s ritual is made, let alone where he learned such a practice, but the homemade voodoo ceremony is cut short when Tiny Male lures Mike out into the streets under the guise of regretting the earlier fracas and wanting to be friends. Anyone who falls for something that stupid deserves to be beaten up by a guy named after a cut of meat, Mikey, so you’ve only got yourself to blame when the goons kidnap your naive ass. They drive him out to a vacant lot (by way of a car rocking back and forth in front of a blank black back drop!), and getting a lead pacemaker “accidentally” shot into his chest. Well, a bit of a downer ending, but at least the movie’s over now, right? Let’s go home and have a piping hot mug of triple Swiss Miss with brandy!
Awww shit. I knew it was too good to be true. Instead we’re thrown a year into the future, where Jada has long since broken up with Lorenzo and is instead now being courted by another classmate, Jamal (Lee Marks). She still has unresolved feelings for ‘Enz (“What am I supposed to do? He took my virginity when I was with him!”), but Jamal tells her she needs to forget about him and start thinking about Michael… Wait, what?! Why should she be thinking about the would-be boyfriend her ex killed? Shouldn’t she be thinking about herself? Just ’cause you’re black doesn’t make you Montel Williams, man. Stick to the Easy Cheese pick-up lines and lookin’ pretty, leave the self-help shit to the professionals.
Elsewhere from all this woo pitching, Lorenzo, Newborn Male and Sirloin are still in their west coast ménage à trois, trying to freestyle about weed and passing blunts between their shifts at wherever the hell it is they make their money. Let’s say Good Burger. Anyway, as soon as Lorie kisses his homies goodbye so he can engage in a little bump and grind with whatever girl he’s currently staining sheets with, Infant and Rib Eye are lured out of their domicile by the siren song of a passing ice cream truck. Looking to indulge their munchies, the lads engage the truck’s owner, who proclaims himself an undercover drug dealer selling his product under the disguise of an ice cream shilling clown. Of course this painted pusher is actually the mirth spreading murderer of our title, and when he invites the pair into his parlor (well, his truck), they’re magically transported to Killjoy’s private pocket universe: a warehouse covered in shitty graffiti. Yep. No three-ring carnival of carnage, just an abandoned building. Once there, naturally the duo are done in, with Flank being “smoked” like a blunt and Kiddo being… hit by a truck? Okay, Tenderloin’s dollar store Freddy Krueger demise is expected, but dragging a guy all the way to your own little death dimension just to hit him with a truck?! That shit’s whack like Rob Ford’s crack!
Oh well. Adieu, T-Bone. You were too well marbled for this world.
Lorenz falls for the same gag sooner than later (as in the very next scene), attempts to unload 21 rounds from his magical movie REVOLVER into joy boy, then ends up holier than a Swiss cheese sex doll when Killy straight up steals Weird Al’s Rambo gimmick from UHF by making with an oral machine gun and spitting Zo’s bullets back at him, rapid fire. Well, technically there are NO holes in Lorenzo, because this minuscule effects budget couldn’t cover squibs, so instead he just has little bursts of red digital splatter flash over his torso for a few seconds, leaving behind NO holes and NO blood! You can see why it’s one of my “Top 25 Hemorrhage Inducing Movie Moments of All Time”… a list that doesn’t actually exist, but probably should.
Though infuriating, this scene brings with it the movie's solitary redeeming moment (aside from its 65 minute running time) – watching Lorenzo's new girlfriend Kahara (Napiera Groves) engage in a gratuitous shower scene. I know it's an all too common device that I've complained about in the past, but in such a white dominated genre, you just don't get to see a whole lot of brown-skinned beauties in that classic exploitation position so, well, I really appreciate it when it happens. Reminds me of my high school days when porn wasn’t available at the clit click of a touchscreen. Pardon me while I get “nostalgic” for a minute or two…
Ahhhh. I feel two quarts lighter! Back to business (or “biznaas”), Jada gets a midnight call from Monique of much urgency. In fact, it’s of such urgency that Foreigner would proclaim it an urgent urgent emergency. So urgent, so urgent, just wait and see. Remember that ineffective hobo (Arthur Burghardt) that sat idly by and watched a certain refugee from a butcher block scuff test his new kicks on Mike’s torso the year prior? Well, on the anniversary of the love-lorned loser’s loss of life that same nameless squatter, possibly while hopped up on Viper (+25 movie nerd points to anyone who knows that reference without Googling it!), has sought out the girls to recap everything from the first act to burn off another 5 minutes. For reasons he never explains, the “not nearly filthy enough to be a believable homeless guy” knows that Killjoy operates on CPT (Clown People Time) and has just now answered Michael’s call for revenge, 365 days late. Having offed Lorie and the Hoods though, shit should be all peaches and plums, right? Well, no. Turns out that Killjoy wants to ply his namesake to Monique and Jada too, while Jamal’s just a bonus, I guess. What did the girls do to deserve such treatment? Never underestimate the blind anger of a nerd scorned.
Pro-tip, ladies and gents: just because someone isn’t romantically interested in you doesn’t mean they’re evil. In fact, you’re the more than likely the only one who’s an a-hole, for holding it against them when they reject you. Trust me. Don’t set yourself up for the same regrets I did. Movies and TV and books and songs lie to you – there’s no such thing as someone you were “destined” to be with, and it sure as shit isn’t their fault or yours if they don’t have the same feelings for you that you have for them. Forget about ’em and keep looking elsewhere. Hell, stop looking for love and that little prick Cupid’s arrow might just pop you in the back when you’re not expecting it! Worked for me and EDB, just might work for you too. Now enough of the touchy-feely tripe! I’m not Dr. Drew and this sure as shit ain’t “Loveline”!
So, the old man disappears in a puff of smoke (maybe he has a stick of chronic burning in his jacket pocket?) and our trio of young African-Americans pretending to be even younger African-Americans opt to take the initiative and confront Clown Boy head-on (“Apply directly to the forehead!”), climbing into the back of his seemingly abandoned truck, parked conveniently right out front where the old man said it would be. Wow, so these kids are ready to attack welfare Pennywise (who’s yet to approach either of them and may not even have beef to resolve), all on the word of a random vagrant whose validity is due solely to his knowing their names and disappearing in a cloud of smoke like David Copperfield or Batman? These guys would probably follow David Blaine across an ocean of molten magma!
As soon as the three materialize in Killie’s murder warehouse (why everyone who goes to this place does so by landing on the floor in some kind of Power Rangers pose, I couldn’t tell you to save my fucking life), Jamal starts up with some Scooby-Doo “We need to split up!” nonsense that the girls aren’t having. Jammy-Jams even flubs one of his lines, but director Ross keeps it in anyway! Bravo, sir. John Singleton you’re not.
With repeated utterances of “We got to!”, Jamal pushes his insistence that splitting up is the only option and wanders off alone, leaving the ladies to their paired fate. In reality, I'm guessing this has to do at least partially, with the fact that there are three of them and only two doorways on the set for Bozo von Chucklefuck’s Haunted World of Spooky Black-on-Black Crimes. This lasts every second of about 2 minutes before the three are reunited, scared back together by Killjoy who…doesn’t really do much to bother them beyond his bad laugh, worse lines and some Tim Burton Joker-ish gag where he offers Jamal a literal hand. You know, cuz it’s a hand…and he offered him a hand…because it’s a severed hand…and Jamal thought he was just offering him a figurative hand…but it was literal… because…it’s…a…hand… Anybody wanna go in halfsies on a gun rental and a pair of bullets? I’m really not feeling much for this whole “not being dead” gimmick lately.
Our heroic trio are then forced to fight off illusory dopplegangers of ‘Zo +2, not because Jada needed to evolve as a character by physically exorcising her residual emotional attachment to her ex (she squares off with Steak ‘Ems instead), but because her new boyfriend just needed to kick her old boyfriend’s phantom ass to prove he’s better than a ghost. And he does, thanks to a ninja sword that he recovers from a tipped over box, because I guess Killjoy’s warehouse services those Chinatown outlet stores that sell decorative weapons to wanna-be Bruce Lees for less than a tenner. Right next to the polyester kimonos and the plaster dragons painted to look like they’re made of jade. Speaking of jade, Jada also benefits from said stock as Mo’ passes her a comically theatrical battle ax to fend off Ghost Beef. Because Charles Band’s props department is made up mostly of day-after-Halloween purchases he made from Big Lots. I had to fight him over a battery-operated wolf skeleton this year! It was weird too, cuz the damn thing still had ears somehow despite being a skeleton. I let him keep it. I’ll have to think of something else to get my sister for Cthulhumas this year.
Pastrami is shown that, despite his claims, being dead doesn’t mean he can’t be killed (or in this case, decapitated by Jada), while Jamal struggles with undead Toddler, attempting to gouge out the vato’s oculars only to miss completely and gently massage his eyebrows instead. Fortunately for our hero, it seems the brow ridge is just the weakpoint the exorcist ordered, as said light caress causes the baddie to leak green smoke from his eyes, cry out in pain, dissolve into a cloud of eyesore particle effects, and make that weird zapping sound you always heard from the Tesla Coils in a b-movie mad scientist’s lab.
‘Joy reappears, dispatching Jam and Monique with ease, then corners Jada and asks for a kiss. She complies, but only if he leaves their world forever. The capering antagonist could’ve easily pulled the lawyer card and instead forced her to stay in his world forever, citing unclear wording, but instead just does the dickhead thing and refuses to honor their agreement, just because. He then reveals himself to be Michael, who delivers a monologue about how unfair it was to be bullied by everyone when he just wanted some friends. Jada offers to be his friend, but he wants her to be his girlfriend, not his friend that’s a girl. She clearly wants to tell him she doesn’t like him “that way”, but hesitantly says yes instead, only to knife him in the guts a few dozen times when he gets aggressively huggy. Nothing to do with her station in life or where she comes from, but I’m guessing Jada did a stretch up the river at some point because she shivs that boy like a woman who’s seen some shit (or done some shit) in a prison lunch line before! This Dorothy’s been to Oz, and I’m not talking ruby slippers and flying monkey bellboys!
If you thought everything sounded stupid up to this point, you’ve only dipped a toe in the stupidity quicksand. Now, after murdered Mikey fades away, Jada collects Jamal and Monique and the three stroll out of the warehouse like everything’s hunky-dory. It’s not, of course, because we’re only 55 minutes into this little-over-an-hour mire. As I was saying, they walk out of the warehouse (which is just a warehouse now and not a parallel dimension?) and find the Killjoy Mobile parked across the street. You-dread-who pops up AGAIN with his three lackeys still in tow and proclaims that he can’t be killed in his world. You mean exactly like Freddy Krueger had to be brought into our reality to be killed? Right. But, I’m presuming that they’re all in our reality right now, right? Or are they still in his world?! I’m shit out of theories on this one, and hold your ponies lads and lasses cuz it only makes less fucking sense in a minute!
The good guys hear the homeless guy Obi-Waning in their heads and telling them they need to “kill the doll” (rather than “use the Force”), which they make it a point to vocalize out loud, cuing Kony the Clown in on their plan. He gets pissed and tries to chase them down, but they escape into the back of his ice cream truck, because it looks like all you need to do to get out of his trap dimension really is just walk out of its front door! And this time, rather than being thrown back into the warehouse-between-worlds, the magic fool bus instead transports them to…Michael’s old apartment?! How the fuck does this work!? What the FUCK was going on in your head when you wrote this, Mr. Washington?! I feel my brain being spaghettified right through my eyeballs by the black hole this movie’s collapsed reality is creating! ARRRRRGH!
Before Jada can destroy the doll it turns into Michael, begging her (while she straddles him in Cowgirl position…awkward) not to kill him because everything he did was out of love for her. She hesitates, which is odd considering how savagely she pig stuck the guy not 10 minutes ago! Ultimately her killer instinct wins out again and she gets the chance to murder her admirer a second time. Mikey cries out in pain, reverts back into a toy, and some mystical earthquake sends the villains back through a vortex to whatever homeboy purgatory they’re stuck in now. Jamal warns the girls not to break the circle of votive candles (which aren’t lit anyway…) and they huddle together to hold hands, transported back to Monique’s place with no explanation as to why. Jedi Fred Sanford awaits them there too, only to dissolve sans any further dialogue. Without batting an eye, Jamal suggests that the three go out for a bite to eat and everybody learns to feel good about laughing again. No, seriously, they get all dressed up, sit in a nightclub, and talk about how great it is to laugh… Somebody actually got paid to write these lines!
To keep up with the knock-off A Nightmare On Martin Luther King Blvd bullshit, it turns out this ending is just a nightmare Jada’s having that ends with Killjoy showing up. She awakens screaming in bed next to a horny Jamal who figures the best way to cure his girl’s bad dreams is with a mouthful of beaver, and with a Vera Yell, she cried “MORE! MORE! MORE!”. See what I did there? But when he comes back up from spelunking the meat curtains beneath the sheets, care to guess who he’s turned into? Yep.
And they made threefour more of these fucking things?! There is no god.
I mean, there’s a lot of us, clearly, but there’s no god specifically for shitty movie prevention. I put in a dozen requests with H.R. (Human Resources, not Pufnstuf) and they just keep telling me that jars full of internal organs with “DO WHAT I SAY!” etched into them aren’t acceptable requisition forms. Friggin’ office politics.
And so goes the story of Killjoy, Carl Washington’s double rip-off of A Nightmare on Elm Street and It. A movie that can’t even follow the rules it makes up for itself as it goes along. A movie whose plot has more holes than Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur combined. A movie whose dialogue sounds like it was written by a mentally impaired 10 year old who just learned the term “good pussy”. A movie whose villain’s quips couldn’t even make a hyena hopped up on Nitrous Oxide and Red Bull crack a giggle. It’s sad too, because for the most part the cast isn’t horrible, they’re just playing one-dimensional characters and are bogged down further by the shit Washington filled their mouths with. Sick bastard.
Out of this cast of extras from a season of “The Wayans Bros.”, the only one who can’t blame the script for their piss poor performance is Lee Marks. Sure, he’s given some especially harsh lines, but his readings are wooden enough for Nick Offerman to carve a canoe out of. Either Marks didn’t get a chance to practice his lines and this flick was shot in the Roger Corman “one and done” style (which is very likely given some of the flubbed lines and bumbled camera work that were left in) or the guy was hired straight off the casting couch based on his looks, his lacking of acting be damned. Maybe he’s the ugly girl the others keep around to make themselves look hotter by comparison. Only… you know…the thespian version.
Batting 0-2, Killjoy‘s third strike comes at the hands of director Craig Ross, who is just as bad at his job as everyone else is at theirs. Wretched shot composition, miserable efforts to be creative by shooting from a low “pendulum” angle that even first semester film school students wouldn’t waste their time on. The gratingly stupid Superman landing that he has everybody do when they “jump” into Laughing Boy’s urban squalor Purgatory! It all flies as well as Thoth after a 40 oz. of Olde Egyptian 800 BC. That is one man-bird that cannot hold his liquor, malted or otherwise.
To finish out the bingo card, Killjoy‘s soundtrack, cinematography and editing are also dumpster refuse. Specifically that dumpster Willennium Smith kicks open in Men in Black that vomits cockroaches all over the ground. The only thing it’s consistent at is being terrible. Reminds me of the first time a girl went down on me, only with less teeth. If I were to best sum up my feelings for this incompetently cobbled together “Frankenstein’s monster if he were assembled from large pieces of putrid deli meat” via the medium of referential humor to a scene from a culturally relevant comedy movie released in the last 15 years (oddly specific criteria, sure, but just go with it), it would be the Sex Panther fallout scene from Anchorman where an office full of Paul Rudd’s co-workers are driven to odorous agony by his bio-hazardous, nostril napalm cologne. Remember “SMELLS LIKE BIGFOOT’S DICK!”? That was me by the time the end credits hit.
In the spirit of the season, Killjoy is such a gobbler that Turkey Volume Guessing Man gives it 3000 turkeys!
And if you don't get that joke, go back and watch the Riding with Death episode of “MST3K”. It’s magic. How magic? Remember that time Merlin turned his penis into a rainbow spewing dragon to have 6 month long tantric sex with Grendel’s mother so they could give birth to Electric Light Orchestra and raise them to write and perform “Oh Oh Oh It’s Magic”? That episode is MORE magical. 2 Legit.
With that, I leave you to your dinners of mass consumption, my friends and fiends. You know, if USA Thanksgiving is your thing. I’ll be back after the Great Binge for at least one more course of Turkey Day Month before the upcoming glut of end-of-the-year holiday themed nonsense waiting to come crashing down my chimney. No peeking, you pricks, or Anubis Claus will have to hollow out your eye sockets with a hot fire poker!
Moral of the Story: When you’re unarmed and fighting someone swinging a 3′ long Ginsu, maybe don’t defiantly proclaim “Yo ass is MINE!”. Unless you always wondered what it would feel like to have your internal organs shish kabobbed, in which case I recommend eating a big bowl of cherry tomatoes and cocktail onions beforehand. It’s always good to have a balanced, healthy kabob.
And ladies, here’s one for you: don’t ask your man job interview questions post-coitus. He doesn’t wanna hear any of that “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” crap after getting his kumquats juiced.
“Big City Pictures”? Maybe in about as much as Provo, Utah is technically a big city too, sure.
“You paid how much for this fencing, girl!? I told you, my cousin Shaun is the chain link KING! Tell him we’re friends and he’ll hook you UP!”
“I believe I can FLYYYYYYY! I believe I can touch the SKYYYYYY!”
Hey geniuses, you forget to turn on the rear projector for the driving scene! I’d call you the modern day Notorious B.I.G. (Burt I. Gordon), but you couldn’t even get that right!
“You’re right Lorenzo, there is something blocking your barrel. It looks like a… bullet? … Oh shit.”
His stage name should be Rhythm Method Man, cuz just looking at him is birth control. *rimshot*
Movie immersion breaker #262: Who the hell has sex with the bedspread around their waists like that?!
“Come on B, you gotta help me find my contacts! The insurance company’s gonna raise my rates if I tell ’em I lost another pair of lenses, son!”
I’d make fun of her for picking that robe up at Phyllis Diller’s yard sale, but she looks better in it than the guest star of Boneyard ever did.
“Ugggh. I gotta stop eating out of the dumpster behind that vegan place. Those vegetables and shit give me gas out both ends!”
Note to our readers: Just because you memorized the lyrics to every track on “36 Chambers” and own every VHS in the Wu-Tang Collection reissue set doesn’t mean you’re qualified to swing the hardware!
“Hey kids! Remember krumping? Of course you don’t! No one does! Nor should they! We’re all better off without it!”
Looks like somebody didn’t learn their lesson from Richard Pryor’s example.
“There is a great disturbance in the Circus. We have a new enemy. The young rebel who destroyed our clown car. This boy is the offspring of PT Barnum. Search your feelings. You’ll know it to be true.”
Damn McDonald, your teeth are disgusting and your gums look infected! Time to lay off the Kools and Colt 45s, or the suits upstairs are gonna make McCheese the new face of the franchise!
Anubis will return next time in “Napoleon’s Waterloo”
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Featuring: Natasha “‘Orange Is the New Black’” Lyonne , Chloë “American Psycho” Sevigny , Meg “Psycho II” Tilly
Director & Writer: Danny “Oddsac” Perez
Origin: Canada | USA
“I’m not pregnant, I’m infected!”
Hey kids. It’s September 30th. Somebody wake up Billy Joe Armstrong, cuz he apparently can’t figure out how to set a fucking alarm clock. Speaking of kids…
Children. Uggh. I’ve never been a fan. My DNA has been requested more than once to contribute to the spawning of an Anubis Junior, but such a nightmare never occurred because I convinced the women in question that not only would having my child be a poor idea (family history of mental illness, alcoholism, diabetes, and general assholeness) , but ANY intentions for reproduction would only lead to a lifetime of regret for all involved. I’ve seen it happen. Too many times. From would-be dads who bail as soon as the first sonogram image proves they were wrong that their lady “just ate too much chili” to mothers on the verge of becoming the next Andrea Yates (one of which I literally had to talk down over the phone while at work, I shit you not), the idea of having children unnerves me. Almost as badly as the idea of a Rush Limbaugh Speedo calendar or Uwe Boll making a movie crapdaptation of Eternal Darkness. In the darkest depths of this hypothetical Hell, it would star Jenny McCarthy as Alexandra, Casper Van Dien as Pious Augustus, and Paulie Shore as the voices of each of the Elder Gods. Uggh, I just gave myself mental indigestion.
As I was saying, I hate the concept of babies and everything to do with them. So much so that I used to wear a t-shirt in high school of a fetus on a coat hanger that said “PRO DEATH” across the chest. Some mistook it as a plea for negative attention, others incorrectly interpreted it as an extremely anti pro-choice statement (it was not), while in the end all it was meant to be was exactly what it looked like: a public illustration of my advocating for the violent physical termination of parasites. Do you know what the difference is between a tapeworm and a fetus? Most people don’t keep the tapeworm after it’s been removed and raise it as their own. Poor tapeworms. Somebody should start a petition to establish a publicly funded tapeworm adoption agency. But not me. I’d rather bisect my own tongue with a piece of notebook paper than try to convince people to sign a petition.
In addition to the whole conception concept, Antibirth also addresses another mostly female-centric nightmare – date rape drugs. No sooner does our feature set sail, then it immediately crashes upon the jagged rocks of discomfort as our intoxicated leading lady Lou (Natasha Lyonne), who’s suddenly having issues maintaining consciousness, is led away from a raucous midnight warehouse barrel fire rave by the living, breathing definition of a “skeezoid” with blatantly bad intentions. Her friend Sadie (Chloë Sevigny) sees this and makes the bare minimum effort to assist her protagonist pal, but is ultimately dissuaded by her presumed beau Gabriel (Mark Webber) to just ignore the implied peril and get back to indulging in their drunken merriment. Ladies, be sure to properly vet your rape prevention buddies before engaging in a public night of mind altering activities, and even then, be sure to travel in a consortium of three or more friends if possible in case of outside interference. Oh, and be sure to pack an Xacto knife or shiv of some kind too. If there’s one thing that terrifies a guy with his dick hanging out, it’s sharp objects!
Antibirth throws us face first into the figurative wall with its tale, so let’s take a quick sidebar and let me introduce you to Lou, based on what we observe throughout the runtime. She wants more out of her aimless life, but due to her downward spiral of self-esteem these moments of clarity are always quickly obscured with another haze of bong exhaust, or drowned in an amber sea of Old Milwaukee and painkillers. As for her personality, the best I can boil her down to on a relatable level is thus: Lou is that “live out loud” tomboy type that has more male friends than female. She prefers to be direct and avoid the false face backstabbery and bullshit of the stereotype woman. It could have something to do with her dad being dead and all.
Lou’s the friend who asks her best male amigo to go get her tampons and offers to suck his dick in payment. As said friend though, you never call her out on cashing it in (despite getting blue balls every time she does it) because you know she was just joking, yet you still buy her the cotton ponies because you knew you were gonna end up doing it either way. She talks about how one night the planets will align and conditions will be just right for the two of you to swap fluids in a tangle of sexual kismet that you’ve been building toward for years. Chances are she’s just stringing you along because she thinks she needs to keep you interested in a self-professed loser like herself, and she feels genuinely bad at times since she knows said metaphorical celestial construct will never come to pass. Lou’s the kind of friend that masochists fall in love with despite knowing they’ll never have her because, well, I guess that’s part of being a masochist, right? She’s a Super Bowl of self-abuse, but you can’t help picking her back up every time she falls on her ass…
Well, if said “you” is me, anyway. Maybe the you “you” reading this hasn’t ever had a friend like that before. Anyway, now’s not the time to delve into the sinkholes of my personal memory lane. We’ve got a movie to review, you Sonoma bitch!
The aforementioned ambassador of the Skeeze Nebula is Warren (Max McCabe-Lokos), whom we later discover to be Gabriel’s henchman. Why would Gabriel need a henchman? Because he’s the local supplier of their small town’s citizens with pay-for-play poontang and illegal pharmaceuticals. He also may be holding a young woman hostage (it’s a shady shade of legal gray) for the purpose of harvesting her urine to sell to job seeking junkies. Even if you excuse his business practices as “providing services for people who are responsible for their poor decision making”, based on his simple merits as a human being, Gabe’s still a diarrhea Slush Puppie. And if you don’t know what a Slush Puppie is, memorial services for your childhood will be Thursday from 4PM to ‘?’.
Lou wakes up the next morning with no memory of what happened after Warren made off with her, but over the course of the following days one thing’s made very certain – she’s pregnant! She’s in denial about it for a while, but once her midsection starts to inflate like a meat balloon it’s clearly more than a heavy case of constipation. Given the rapid progression of said impregnation, there’s something way more complicated than the simple fetal fallout of a date rape at work in this lady’s womb. The question now isn’t just how that something got there, but who put it there, what it has to do with a strange woman (Meg Tilly) that’s seemingly stalking Lou, what its connection is to a ramshackle Chuck E. Cheese rip-off restaurant, and what exactly said something IS. The answer may surprise you!
Or maybe it won’t. If you’re into Area 51 “X-Files” type shit, I’m gonna guess it probably won’t.
Much like my last episode, The Neon Demon, there isn’t a lot in the way of horror going on in Antibirth. The dread comes from the discomforting voice in the back of your head that keeps telling you this is all leading to some nightmarish payoff, but the cause isn’t made clear until the finale, when the whole thing get thrown in our faces like a water balloon full of amniotic fluid. UnlikeThe Neon Demon though, Antibirth doesn’t give us the courtesy of some beautiful visuals and brain altering background tracks to keep us neck deep in the experience while we wait for the eventual menace to surface and resolve. Of the pair, oddly enough, it’s the one with a hardcore drug abuser as its main character that involves the less psychedelia. Yep. Despite Lou’s frequent pot smoking, booze drinking, and pill popping, there’s not a lot for the audience’s sensory apparati to indulge in outside of a little acid rock, a brief time lapse scene and some minor flashbacks to the night of her womb squatter’s immaculate conception.
The trippiest shit we get actually comes from whatever bizarro TV channel it is that Lou keeps her boob tube tuned to. Must be one of those weird ass “channels between the channels” digital air wave stations too, cuz our pregged-up protagonista’s trailer abode is so far out in the middle of nowhere that there’s no way a cable company is coming all the way out there to install service for her box! Though, I would gladly drive such a distance to service Natasha Lyonne’s box. There’s just something about her that makes my protruding Pineal stalk stand at attention. Not that I owe anyone an explanation as to whom or what pitches a tent in my celestial loincloth. If you’ve got a problem with it, you can blister your biscuits for all I care.
All in all, the movie’s cast is pretty good. Lyonne makes Lou oddly affable (and f-able) despite her flaws, but that may just be me hooking my wagon of personal life experiences to her hitch. Sevigny (who’s been superseded as the go-to Chloë by both Chloë Grace Moretz and Khloé Kardashian) make Sadie moderately interesting as both Lou’s co-conspirator and Gabe’s girlfriend, seeming genuinely ignorant that she’s using him for the free drugs. It keeps with the movie’s underlying message that everyone uses everyone else for their personal gains. That may make me a pessimist, if you must insist, but I tend to live in a sugar-free reality. My logic diabetes makes me allergic to naivety. And despite my cripplingly low self-esteem, I can’t seem to stop making this review about me. Let me go look in a mirror and remind myself why I’m not to be a topic of praise.
That’s better. Where was I? Oh yeah, the cast. Meg Tilly’s Lorna is motherly and warm, while also tin foil hat paranoid and always ready to cut a bitch. She’s like Kitty Forman with shellshock, thus making her my favorite character. Webber and Lokos are what you’d expect out of a small town wanna-be crime lord and his bruised second banana. Neither one is especially dynamic, but these aren’t exactly career making roles. I will give it to Webber though, he almost makes you feel bad for Gabriel when the guy points out to Sadie that she’s using him for drugs and he begrudgingly accepts it. One of those “I’m just a means to an end for you, but I’m a user too so fuck it, we’re good” exchanges. Kudos.
Though it’s become far more commercial in recent years than the Independent Film Channel it was created to be, IFC’s movie unit lives up to the “independent” part with Antibirth‘s super low budget feel, especially its limited number of scene locales. It’s sold as a horror movie, but looks and feels like a slice of life slacker picture. Downtrodden, lower class twenty-to-thirtysomethings just getting by and living lives without real purpose, just kinda dickin’ around until it’s their turn to feed the worms. Minuscule on production value, but in no need of a big price tag to warrant its existence. Take out the Mulder and Scully stuff and you’d be left with a Juno + Suburbia hybrid flick.
All in all, it’s an okay movie. Better remembered for its ending (which I’m not at liberty to divulge, given its infancy) and a scene that will make podophobics curl their toes in revulsion (trigger warning!), Antibirth is a fair feature to take in if you’re feeling nostalgic for the ’90s nihilistic punk pics sub-sub-genre, but still like a side of mild body horror and the unknown with your meal. It doesn’t make me chomp at the bit for another Danny Perez feature, but I may check one out if I get the odd pregnancy craving somewhere down the line.
Oh, and bonus points for the scene where Lou expounds the finer points of “Manimal” to Sadie! When’s that remake coming, NBC?!
With the sun setting on “Ladies Night!”, what will the striking of midnight and the dawning of the devil’s month have in store for The Tomb? Take my hand and let’s find out together…that’s not my hand…okay, you should just stop that now. I’m just not into you like that. You’ve made it awkward. I’m going to go now. Bye.
Moral of the Story: Don’t do drugs, kids. You could get addicted, overdose or worse, you might get pregnant!
“Get off me, man! If that dude juggling the chainsaws fucks up, I wanna see it!”
We all had the same reaction when we heard Trump was running for president. Now we’re just praying someone invents a working time machine before election day.
Having missed out on her chance to be a contestant on “The Swan”, Split Face Girl instead moves from Japan to Canada in the hopes that their superior healthcare system may be able to finally get her the care she needs.
Trust me, leaving your piss cups and a big jar of olives in the fridge together will only lead to comical mishaps. Also, who the fuck put the COMPLETELY EMPTY KETCHUP BOTTLE back in the fridge?! Assholes!
The rest of his shirt says “When you can sit around and shove fried excuses for chicken parts into your face and cut your lifespan in half”.
I don’t care HOW big your American flag is, you’re not fooling anyone! Only Canadians bowl with those weird little ski ball spheres, ya hosers!
Fearing the inevitable sleepless nights that come with parenthood, Lou tries to keep her future spawn high as hell in utero in the hopes that it’ll be a mellow baby.
“Not so tough now ARE ya, Sunny Jim! Somebody’s definitely getting a mouthful tonight, but it’s not gonna be me. I suggest you pretend you’re eating a Choco Taco if you wanna see the sunrise. On your knees!”
Think Wheaties is the breakfast of champions? Fuck no! Cold pizza and a Camel are where it’s at.
Just another prom night victim of an American “abstinence only” school district…
Much like baby alligators in the ’70s, it looks like one of those porcelain preemies managed to reach adulthood in the sewers and become a successful model for “Gorezone”! The American Dream is alive and well, (white) people!
Pepsi recently brought back their Crystal Pepsi product by popular demand, but they forgot to fix the “flesh melting” side effects that caused them to cease its production in the first place!
By the time Billy’s mom realized she’d purchased a voodoo birthday cake by accident, it was too late…
Speaking of accidental conceptions, this is what happens when Tinky Winky and Po get wasted on cough medicine and take turns face fucking one of those water gun carnival game heads. Pure, uncut nightmare powder.
Anubis will return next time in “Nepotism: HosebIVion”
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!
“The most dangerous ghosts in the world are still alive.”
Maybe it’s just the casual racist in me (“casual” as opposed to “malicious”, so it’s okay), but I wouldn’t have expected a movie from India to be called “Pizza”. If anything, I would’ve thought something like “Curry” or “Vindaloo” or “Tikka Masala” to be more apropos. Oh well. So goes my Western ignorance. Speaking of India…
We all know about the rampant sacred cows strolling the streets carefree and careless, or the infamous “people piss and shit anywhere and everywhere” stuff, but did you know India is the largest democracy in the world? Well, it is. Did you know it exists in its own time zone? Well, it does. Did you know it’s the second most populous country in the world, but only the seventh largest? Yeah, if you thought Mexican stereotypes were the champions of “clown car apartment housing”, then you’ve clearly never been to India… not that I have either, but, shut up. In 2001, a Hindu religious festival called the Kumbh Mela (“Grand Pitcher Festival”) had 60 million attendees, breaking the world record for “largest gathering”! You could see the massive get-together FROM SPACE.
India is also the birthplace of chess (or “nerd checkers” if you’re the type whose respiration is an entirely oral process…and you didn’t understand what the Fuddruckers I just said there), spun and woven cotton, the decimal system, use of zero as a number, plastic surgery, Mohandas “Mahatma” Ghandi, and the following religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. It’s also the largest producer of dried beans, bananas, milk, and tea. The Himalaya Mountains (which are growing 2.5 centimeters a year!) and the Taj Mahal call the country home, as do the temples of Khajuraho. A major tourism magnet, said temples are (in)famous for their explicit erotic sculptures that portray a litany of sexual acts, including some that portray beastiality. Though I’ve never been, as a half-man half-dog god, I know where I’m going on my next honeymoon!
Now for some *dramatic pause* tales statistics from the dark side (cue the “Tales From the Darkside” theme). India has the world’s largest murder rate, at over 40,000 per year. Sounds scary, but when you’re the second largest population in the world, 40k is a drop in the bucket (of blood). As for how all those bodies are disposed of, in order to avoid polluting the air, ground, and water, a common practice is to leave bodies in buildings called “Towers of Silence”, where vultures feed on the decaying remains. The bones left behind are then swept into deep wells at the center of the structures. Somebody needs to make a fucking slasher movie set in one of these corpse campaniles toot damn sweet!
In 2012, there were as many as 7 million abortions performed in India. That number doesn’t disturb me, as I whole-heartedly advocate for abortions. Not just because of the whole “pro-choice” thing, but because I’ve been all in on the “pro-death” kick since high school! I endorse free rides on the coat hanger express for every baby-to-be! Sure, you could be snuffing out the person who unites the world under a banner of peace, but you could also be saving the world from the instigator of a global holocaust. Think about it. Where was I? Oh yeah, it’s not the 7 million abortions that I don’t like, it’s the “one woman every two hours” death statistic that comes with 65% of these being done in unauthorized, unsanitary facilities that bums me out. That and India’s unfortunately high rate of female fetus abortions at that. Silver lining? Maybe after a few generations of “gendercide” they’ll make a dent in their overpopulation. We see how that’s working out for China.
Okay. Okay. Enough killing the mood. I won’t even get into the “Delhi Belly” epidemic (hint: it’s a mudslide of a topic). Let’s just scrounge the couch cushions for loose change and see if we can’t afford to order some Pizza!
For anyone wondering if this is a musical, given its birth nation, it is not. Musicals are Bollywood stuff. Pizza was an independent movie, so no singing and dancing to be had here. It was a massive success for its meager origins too, and in the 3 short years since its release, it’s spawned an immediate follow-up and several remakes, including (reportedly) an American knock-off on the horizon! More on that later though. For now, let’s have a tale of life, love, tragedy, torment, and Chicken Supreme pizzas.
Michael (Vijay Sethupathi) and Anu (Namy Nambeeshan) are a young, carefree couple who haven’t yet been together long enough to want to kill each other every minute they’re in the same room. Instead, they just nag and pick at each other. Ah, young love. Living in a small apartment, she works on writing a ghost novel and watches horror movies all day (my kinda lady!) while he’s a delivery boy at a pizza place called PitStop. I say “boy”, but not in the literal sense (or the racist sense…nor the Tall Man sense), as this dude’s got a headstart on some serious facial mane. The pair’s comfortable little existence living off of Anu’s passed parents’ insurance pitance is plunging toward its own inevitable demise, because she just found out she’s hosting a parasite. Or “pregnant”, as such an infection is more commonly referred to by those less infanticidal than myself. After those abortions stats I listed earlier, you can understand why she’s so upset by the prospect when she breaks the news to her husband. That’s a piping hot bowl of scary curry for any unprepared pair to be presented with, let alone a pair already desperately clinging to the poverty line.
‘Nu insists on nurturing the uterine leech, despite her own misgivings about their being able to handle the responsibility. Rather than throw her down some stairs (I think it’s a few months early for that anyway) or spend the rest of his life on the run from the child support police, Mike makes Spike Lee proud and does the right thing – he stays. Not only does he stay, but they agree that they need to be married before this hell-beast is torn screaming from her spawn hole. Since they’re light on rupees, the two decide to just have an at-home ceremony alone sans friends or any sort of officiate, where they exchange rings and half-assed vows (does that count for a legally binding union in India?!), agreeing to save up their money for a nice party later on. Their DIY nuptials are followed by a romantic montage of sitcom-esque “couple moments” they share. Cue the canned audience “awwwww” sound.
After telling everyone at work the big news, Mike’s sent to his boss Shanmugam’s (Aadukalam Naren) house to deliver some paperwork to Mrs. Boss. When he rings the bell though, their daughter Periya answers the door…while screaming and flailing and generally freaking the fuck out! Several people take her away while Mrs. Boss tells Mikey to go fetch her mustachioed mate toot sweet. Per may be feral, or she may just have mistaken our brotagonist for a Jehovah’s Witness or a political advocate. You can only take those bung weasels banging on your door so much before your switch flips to “I’m going to beat your head in with a claw hammer!” Turns out it’s none of this though, because the maniacal teen is actually possessed by a spirit calling itself “Nithya”! Yep, she’s doin’ the Regan MacNeil Bop. Actually, given the setting, I guess it’d be more on point to call it the Regan MacNeil Kuchipudi…not to be confused with the Regan MacNeil cooch, which is where Linda Blair went to 3rd base with her lord and savior.
Boss’s spiritual guru Raghavan (Karunakaran – that’s it, just one name on this guy) takes over and Mikey hangs around to watch the freakshow until Periya gives him a death stare and spooks his balls off. Raggy insists that the squatter spirit is doing this out of revenge for some unknown slight that Shan must’ve committed against the ghost in life, but boss man denies any wrong doing…except that he keeps getting this look on his face like he’s clearly lying and probably ran this Nithya girl over with his car or never paid her for some Girl Scout cookies he ordered. He sends Michael home, asking that he not tell anyone about what he’s just seen. Naturally, he runs home and tells Anu all about it. Great. Don’t ever give this guy incriminating evidence of any kind, cuz his lips are looser than a hypertrophic labia!
Google it. Or don’t, if you’re a pussy. Or are afraid of pussy. Pussy.
Anu doesn’t exactly feel bad for her mate, though. Not because she lacks sympathy, but because chicks dig irony and she just told his skeptic ass that he was going to have his face-to-face with the supernatural someday. Thus, she spends the next few days “BOO!”ing the tar out of the guy at every opportunity as a torturous “I told you so”. You know your spouse really cares about you when they mock your trauma by abusing your PTSD. Of all the times to hate it when your partner’s right, this is probably one of the worst. Right up there with “I don’t think you should have given that person your social security number.” and “You shouldn’t go up on the roof to mess with the satellite dish, because you’ll probably break your neck.” People, learn to listen to your significant other. Especially if you have a blighted track record of personal decision making on par with the father of an animated sitcom family.
One night, before he’s sent out on a delivery, Shanny requests that Mike stop by Chateu le Boss again, this time to drop off a box of candy. Despite his not-as-reassuring-as-he-intended-it-to-be promise of “My daughter will not kill you!”, our protagonist is hesitant to go and I can’t really blame him. Alas, it’s one of those boss requests that comes with the not-so-under undercurrent of “Do this or I will punish you severely as my employee.”, so he reluctantly gives in and undertakes the undertaking. FF>> to later that night, as Shanmugam shows up at PitStop to the sight of his trio of employees bloodied and battered (as in beaten up, not fried in batter)! According to Heckle and Jeckle (I forget their actual names), their ass thumping was the work of Michael, who sits inside the store in a panicked daze. When Boss demands an explanation, the haunted hero relates his scary story to tell in the dark.
When he delivered the pizza, the lady of the bungalow invited him in while she rifled through her purse for the money (note to all readers: don’t be a shithead – have your payment and tip prepared before your delivery person arrives!), only to find out that Mikey didn’t bring enough change for the large denomination note she attempted to pay with. She excused herself upstairs to find a smaller bill and, well, if our hero thought this life was turning into a “Tales From the Crypt” episode before, it looks like Ganesh had put in a full season order for him!
I won’t open my jacket and expose all of the goodies, but Michael ended up trapped in what turned out to be a spook shack. The walls were covered with weird etchings of terrified people’s faces close-up, specifically their big creepy eyes. Mike was menaced for an extended period of time by forces beyond his comprehension, narrowly escaping with his life. And no bitching about how that last bit’s a spoiler, because he obviously escaped if he made it back to the shop to tell the tale! The experience leaves him a disturbed man hanging on to the barest threads of sanity and that’s only the beginning of his downward spiral…technically it’s the first 75% of the movie and not just the beginning, given that there’s still half an hour left after, but you get my (Tokyo) drift.
The rest of the movie is… hmm…it’s really hard to refer to it without…GAH! Alright, I’ll tell you this much – Karthik Subbaraj pulls a better M. Night Shayamalan than his fellow countryman has managed to pull off himself since Unbreakable. It’s great. It took me by surprise. It was unexpected and well explained. But then he takes it too far and ruins it. If Karthik were an Olympic gymnast, Pizza would be his gold medal floor routine that ends, sadly, with him landing on his foot sideways, rolling his ankle and getting the silver instead. If he were a concert pianist, Pizza would be his opus at Carnegie Hall that wraps with him letting out the loudest, wettest shart as he’s taking his bow for applause.
In case I’m being too subtle, allow me to Big Cass for a moment and “SPELL IT OUT FOR YA!” – I do not like the ending of this movie. To be more specific, the last 3 minutes. I suggest getting yourself a copy and seeing it for yourself, as it’s a decent piece of Indian indie filmmaking. If you’re overwhelmed by curiosity but don’t have the will to hunt it down, just read the Wikipedia entry that unbags the proverbial cat instead. That whole site is spoiler central. Did you know that the Nazis lost World War II?! Not cool, Wikipedia.
As mentioned before, Pizza was such a success that two remakes have already been released with additional ones being prepped for delivery down the line. One of them, 2014’s Pizza in 3D, made its way onto my hard drive and was actually the first of these features that I watched! I wasn’t aware that it wasn’t the original movie, and thought the release year was a typo, while the completely different character names from the IMDB listing I was referencing were personally chalked up to a bad set of amateur subtitles. Fortunately, I realized my mistake before publishing the review and managed to not betray just how much of a dumbass I am to all of you. Hooray.
Since I won’t be doing an episode for Pizza in 3D, as they’re too similar to warrant stretching a full review for the remake, let’s see how said reproduction compares to the autochthonous article. Though they follow the same base plot (while changing the characters’ names), there are moderate changes that generally improve upon the recipe. Some of the fat is trimmed down (especially from Michael/Kunal’s time trapped in the house), both improving the flow and giving us a more manageable 107min runtime down from the clunkier 124min. The marriage theme is ousted since our young lovers are already bonded in holy matrimony from the start, and the focus is shifted more to the pregnancy. In fact, the overarching theme of the remake is pregnancy, as the possessed character is no longer the boss’s daughter, but a pregnant Mrs. Boss! On top of that, when our hero makes his delivery to the haunted bungalow, the woman there is also pregnant, making the moral of the story for that version, “People in India have apparently never heard of ‘pulling out’!”
The structure of the narrative gets a few slight but very important changes as well, but you’d have to know the ending to understand why so I won’t spill the beans further. Anu/Nikki’s role in things post-haunted house is changed slightly, but it’s in such a way that it makes for some radical remodeling of the second half of the flick. Remake turned up the horror show element too, using more gruesome imagery and makeup to make the supernatural stuff less realistic and more fantastic. Speaking of “fantastic”, on the topic of remake’s lead actor Akshay Oberoi? No homo, but he’s got some damn pretty eyes…okay, maybe a little homo? But damn it, dude looks like he got poked in the oculars by King Midas! Dreamy bastard. ANYWAY!
The last modification I’m gonna shine a light on is the music. Though the 2012 soundtrack is good to great, 2014 wins hands down solely based on its title theme alone! It’s enjoyably silly, opening on the appropriately punny line “All we are saying is give pizza a chance”. Brilliant. The entire front credits sequence is something not to be missed, either! A “not terrible but not great” 3D computer animated sequence that follows a ghostbusting delivery boy as he action heros through traffic, dodges monsters, and exorcises spooks with spring loaded pies. Clearly not the hero the song credits him as being though, otherwise he would’ve gotten said pizzas to the fucking customers rather than launching them at specters! The whole thing’s cheesier than a party-size triple stacked twelve-cheese heart-exploder deluxe from Benito Mussacheesy’s Pizza Regime at the corner of Taft Street and DeLuise Avenue. I ate an entire slice once on a dare! Almost choked to death getting it down and I was still shitting string cheese two weeks later.
Okay, maybe my comparison was a tad over spiced with hyperbole, but my eyeballs still felt a little constipated after watching that opening. At least it was fun though.
In the end, Pizza is the Evil Dead to Pizza in 3D‘s Evil Dead 2. Though 3D wasn’t made by Subbaraj, it feels like the product of a scenario where Subbs wanted to go back and make changes to his original product and had more money to fund it. Again, that’s NOT what happened, but it still feels like it could have. If there was some way to combine the two into one great movie, well, it’d still be stuck with that nasal nugget of a finale, but would’ve at least pulled an aggregate score of 4 hearts. Separately though? Three will cover it.
By the way, if you didn’t finish reading this review in 30 minutes or less, it’s free. We strive for customer satisfaction here at TheTombOfAnubis.com, mainly because I’d rather lose a couple bucks on free reviews than have to put up with your bullshit. “But aren’t all these reviews free to read anyway?” you ask? To which I say, take this crust and stuff it!
See you kids at Thanksgiving for my annual Turkey Day review! After whiles, crocodiles.
Moral of the Story: For everyone there will come a moment in life that makes the unbelievable, believable. Your moment is coming. Mine? It’ll be the day we get a new “Captain N: the Game Master” cartoon…
“Damn it! You better not have dragged me into a gods damned found footage horror movie, you dick!”
“The doctor told me to get plenty of Vitamin C. You know what has Vitamin C? Orange juice. You know what has orange juice? Mimosas. Now shut up and go buy more champagne!”
“Come on Raheed, we told you on your second day here that the hairnet requirement was just a joke. It’s been THREE YEARS! Take it off!”
“I love you dear, but if you don’t do something about your halitosis, I’m going to have to take care of it myself.”
“I told you what would happen if you didn’t fix your bad breath! Now open your mouth! LET THE REFRESHING MINT FLAVOR MURDER YOUR DISGUSTING MOUTH BACTERIA!”
(This is called “Scope boarding”)
I see Tom Savini decided to grow a sick Stalin mustache. Looks good on him.
I know how she feels. That’s how my review notes always end up looking after I watch an Asylum movie.
“I’m serious, my throat REALLY hurts! Would you just look in and see if it’s red and spotty? It could be Strep!”
This one’s called “No Child Left Behind?” from the artist’s “Republican in the White House” series.
Ketchup on pizza?! This is a horror movie!
Uh-oh. Looks like the camera guy came to work drunk again. He’s been having a hard time of it lately, but you can only do so many re-shoots before ya gotta shit can him.
Uhm… is this racist? I mean, in America this would definitely be cause for pause, but is it okay in India? I don’t have a clue, so let’s just move on!
Nasty. I bet she’s got “Made in Germany” stamped on the bottom of one of her feet. I wonder if she comes with a tube of that stuff or if you have to supply your own.
“Are you the one who wrote ‘Death to Pigs’ on the walls?! What did you use to write that, blood?! I ask because my wife and I want to re-paint and I think that color would look really nice for the walls of our bathroom!”
“Man, those Pizza Hut guys came at us out of nowhere! But we whipped ’em, didn’t we? Didn’t we… didn’t we whip ’em? WE WHIPPED ‘EM AND WE GOT IT ALL!”
Why is there a cardboard cut out of Hitler in a bowler hat yawning in their store?! What niche demographic are they marketing to, narcoleptic hipster anti-Semites!? That’s a great name for a punk band, by the way.”
Boss getting his rocks off to his favorite types of internet porn – restaurant supply store liquidation sales.
For the love of Isis’s nipple rings, why is this little making the blow job face?! GAH! HAVE I STILL BEEN IN THAILAND THIS WHOLE TIME?! GET ME OFF THIS CONTINENT!
Anubis will return next time in “Shittin’ On the Schlock of the Bay”
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