Featuring: Sandi “Saint Francis” Gardiner , Callard “’Sons of Anarchy‘” Harris , Nick “Albino Farm” Richey
Writer & Director: Jonathan “The Punisher (2004)” Hensleigh
Also Known As: Cannibals
Intro: Hey everybody! This week’s episode is gonna be a rerun, since I had mental-dental surgery and need a lighter workload while I recuperate. The twin that I partially absorbed in the womb has been keeping me up at night grinding his teeth, so I had them removed. Next week’s review will be the whole big “very special episode” whatchamacallit, so until then, just read this!
Oh hey! The Green Inferno FINALLY made it into a theatrical release this weekend! Hooray! For those who aren’t aware, Inferno is the bastard spawn of cannibals (namely Holocaust and Ferox) as birthed from the creative test tube of Eli Roth’s brain.
Seeing as how a review for The Green Inferno is probably a few months off, and since I needed a break to digest all of the fucking Fantastic Factory I crammed into my mental mouth hole at the Spanish bad movie buffet, I figured I’d stick my hand into the rerun cooler and fish out my first can of do-over in over a year. Taking a cue from the week’s new release, I’m revisiting another found-footage romp through undiscovered man-eater country! To that extent, Welcome to the Jungle, won’t you?
Original Review: There are only three reasons that a movie should be titled “Welcome to the Jungle”: (1) It’s a documentary about the rise and fall of Guns ‘N’ Roses (2) It’s a SyFy Original starring Axl Rose and/or Slash (3) It’s a cannibalism movie about people from the “civilized” world going into a jungle and the title was changed because some slime licking studio exec decided the original title of “Cannibals” wasn’t flashy enough to sell the flick. If you’re a sweet child of the ’80s and you’re hoping for doors one or two, well you’re soljwf (dig out your Witchboard and ask George Carlin’s ghost what that means) because we’re giving you what’s behind the curtain. Oh, and look, it’s George Kennedy sodomizing a donkey while chickens peck kernels of corn from his naked ass. ZONK!
In 1961, Michael Rockafeller (“Rockafeller”? I don’t even wanna touch a feller, let alone rock one! *rimshot*) [editor’s note: Rockefeller is actually spelled with an E, not an A. I didn’t want to ruin Anubis’ joke or hurt his feelings, so I left it as written.] went missing in New Guinea while doing some follow-up research on a tribe called the Asmat. A boat that Mikey and his travel partner René Wassing were on was overturned and the two stayed with the boat while their guides swam off to get help. Tired of waiting, Rockefeller decided to swim off himself to get help, but was never heard from again. Wassing was saved the following day, proving that good things come to those who wait… except for Return of the Living Dead 4, because that was just a flaming Hefty bag full of hobo shit.
Son to then Vice-President-to-be Nelson Rockefeller, the search for Michael went on for three years before he was finally declared dead in ’64, though his body was never found. Insert ominous *DUN-DUN-DUN!* here. Well, 40+ years later, in Fiji, college girly Aussie surfer friends Bijou (Veronica Sywak) and Mandi (Sandi Gardiner) get together for a little reunion vacation. Turns out they had one of those “all girls are lesbians at some point in college” relationships, and Mandi’s still carrying a torch in hopes that their reunification will include re-insertion of lady protrusions into each other’s south mouths. Her hopes are dashed before you can say “Lilith Fair” though, when Bij gets introduced to Mand’s boyfriend of two whole weeks, Colby (Callard Harris). Ouch. If you slow the movie down, you can pinpoint the exact moment the poor girl’s heart breaks.
Just so the trip won’t be a total loss of drunken physical stimulation (via the aforementioned insertions), Bij is set up with Colby’s equally American buddy Mikey (Nick Richey). While Colby’s more the “privileged white kid with well-to-do parents” stereotype, Mikey comes from the “pig-headed drunken frat boy” side of the tracks. They’re like the Odd Couple, only I hate them!
The lads heard from a helicopter pilot friend that a 70 year-old white guy who may or may not be the missing Rocker (Marty Jannetty?) was spotted in the nearby jungle of New Guinea. As there’s a standing one-million dollar bounty from the Rockefeller estate for any information as to the lost heir’s whereabouts, the crew decides to go on an amateur jungle hunt (my favorite Atari 2600 game) to investigate the sightings of said geezer. If he turns out to be the legit article, they plan to do an interview with the old man and claim the million bucks so they can buy solid gold sports cars, a lifetime supply of Jack Daniels and all the lesbians Bijou can eat!
A doubly effective joke, since she’s into girls AND we’re watching a cannibal movie! *wink*wink*nudge*nudge* Say no more!
After engaging in the popular New Guinea “x-treme sport” of evading getting carjacked (tourism tip: never stop for children sitting in the road of a third world country – ALWAYS RUN THEM OVER AND KEEP GOING!), the quartet find the local guide who claimed to the helicopter pilot to have seen Grandpa Rockefeller. As proof, the guide pulls out an old timey Zippo lighter with the letters “MCR” monogrammed on it, which the crew trades a bag of tobacco in exchange for. Bijou thinks that the natives could be smarter than they’re giving them credit for and they may very well just be fucking with the stupid white tourists. Meanwhile, Micheal’s frat boy “tough guy” attitude amps up with every scene and really starts to piss me off right around this time, as he picks a fight with some Indonesian border guards (and gets the shit rightly kicked out of them when he calls one of them “zipperhead”, not thinking they know English). This comes after having earlier started shit with some local dudes who almost took his head off for being a posturing prick. He also shows us that he brought a gun with him, because for a brief moment he thought he’d go all Dirty Harry on those border guards before they bitch slapped him around and made him piss himself. Fucking frat boys.
While out in the jungle, the quarter runs into a missionary couple (in that they’re religious recruiters, and not just enthusiasts of that particular sexual position) for an awkward and seemingly pointless scene. If those two don’t wind up impaled on stakes and castrated later on, I’m going to be very disappointed. Speaking of which, if Mikey and Bijou do get eaten, the natives are gonna get so wasted off their whiskey soaked meat. And if they don’t get eaten after making me hate their stupid pathetic alcoholic shit-for-brains asses, this movie immediately gets 1/2 star no matter what happens for the rest of the flick. Seriously, we’re halfway through the movie and if Colb and Mand don’t just leave these two a-holes out in the middle of fucking nowhere to be eaten alive, I’m seriously considering shutting this shit off. On the plus side though, this movie has given me the great idea that, should I ever decide to kill the two most irritating fuckers I’ve ever met, I’ll invite them out into the middle of an uncharted jungle where local cannibals will dispose of the bodies…
Eventually, after many days of wearing thin on each others nerves, Mister and Missus Drunkerton make a raft and break off on their own down river, stealing the group’s only map, all of the money, and probably they keys to their rental van. Sadly, since they also stole one of the two cameras that have been journalizing the journey, we still have the fuckhead couple shoved in our face for a while longer. Oh well, all the better and more satisfying when they finally run into pissed off natives (unhappy with shitweed Mike’s desecration of one of their sacred burial mounds prior) and suffer violent, torturous deaths. By that point though, my lethal exposure to the toxic twins had long killed any and all redemption that might’ve been brought on by said deaths. They’re like a cancer: even though the chemo might get rid of them, you’re still emotionally and mentally ravaged by the experience. Once they’re gone though, it’s back to Colby and Mandi with the second camera as we follow their whiny search for their brain dead cohorts. On the plus side, the whiny stuff isn’t nearly as long or as insanely infuriating as the drunken posturing and mouthing off.
Will Mandy and Colby find Michael Rockefeller, let alone make it out of the jungle alive? Or, will there be some kind of epilogue tacked onto the end to explain how the “footage” made it back to civilization when they didn’t? And even if they do make it out alive, what other shit will the writers put in there to fill out the rest of the running time? Truth be told, I’m not even 100% sure of what the fuck I saw right before the credits rolled. By that point, all I really cared about was that the credits were finally rolling, so fuck it, it’s an ending and that’s all that matters.
Shot in pseudo-documentary style a la The Blair Witch Project (only in digital, because it’s cheaper and makes more sense), it’s hard to tell whether Welcome to the Jungle is supposed to be an homage to Cannibal Holocaust or just an attempt to make a mainstream cash-in on a flick that most “normal” people have never heard of. Obviously Dimension wasn’t too impressed with it, considering the flick went straight to DVD as part of their “Dimension Extreme” label. In this case, “extreme” meant “not good enough for a theatrical release”. To be fair though, Dimension Extreme also brought us the halfway decent Black Sheep, so they’re not all bollocks and ball socks. Whatever the fuck a “ball sock” is.
Considering the lack of explicit gore, vulgar rape sequences, National Geographic style native junk and disturbingly haunting and almost surreal score, I’m assuming it’s just a standard “buy low, sell high” cash-in effort by writer-director Jon Hensleigh. He’s written a bit of everything genre-wise, from Jumanji to Die Hard With A Vengeance. He also took up both writer and directorial chores for the 2004 version of The Punisher.
There are a couple of moments where the graphic special effects are actually done pretty damn well, but the inane dialogue and my general hatred for half the cast (compared to my “moderately steeped dislike” of the other half) just served as a black hole, sucking in any enjoyment I might’ve taken from the rest of the flick. If Cannibal Holocaust is too much for you to handle, but you’re still interested in the “raw footage” motif of a cannibal hunting movie and you can get past nerve baring characters, you might be up for a viewing of Welcome to the Jungle. As for me, well, I’d say it’s pretty friggin’ obvious how I feel about the whole craptacular debacle. Adieu!
Xtro: Damn! I don’t know if I was just way more bitter 8 years ago (“Bit him too!”), or if I just had a vendetta against any and every “found footage” flick between Blair Witch and [REC], but my original 1 star rating for this one is way off! Having re-viewed it for this rerun re-reviewing, I appreciate it a hell of a lot more now than I did upon my initial criticizing! Well, maybe not a hell of a lot more, but let’s say at least a moderately sized purgatory more. Not that we have to actually say that, because as every woman who’s ever gone down on Ron Jeremy has said, “that’s a mouthful”.
For starters, let me put it out there that I have in no way lightened my stance on Mikey: that stance being me with my size 13 boot firmly planted on his neck, making him denounce Adam Sandler movies if he ever wants the canned piss that is Old Milwaukee to cross his lips again. I know he’s meant to be the brain-splittingly obnoxious frat boy stereotype “TO THE EXTREME!!!1!” (especially given that his death is the most satisfyingly drawn out later on), but I also stand by my original statement that he’s so overly annoying that he’s what I call a “human onion”: even well after he’s gone, we’re still trying to get the rancid aftertaste of him out of our mouths. His specter lingers so long that I forget anything else about the “meal” and spend the next few hours wishing I’d asked the waiter for no Mikey.
Though Bijou isn’t much better, and the duo’s “party every night!” attitude gives me oozing pustules on my soul, this time around I actually find myself relating to her. Not because I’m a cunty drunk, but because I know the crushing disappointment of looking forward to reuniting with someone you still carry a torch for, only to have them douse it right out of the gate by introducing you to their new Kama Sutra co-pilot. It’s not the other person’s fault for moving on, but it doesn’t make it any easier to find out you’re the only one still living in the past. So, whether it’s because they’re both soulless partily-heartily types or Bij just wants a rebound fuck to get over the disappointment and/or resentment of having her hype for the clam buffet busted into a million little pieces (or she’s just trying to make Mandi “jealous”), she and Mikey actually hit it off and it makes sense. Depressing, annoying, understandable sense.
Oh yeah, speaking of the boozers, here’s one of the biggest hemorrhoids this movie planted in my crack: How much fucking alcohol did they weigh their packs down with to fuel such a party bus to Drunken Regrets Town?! By Jupiter! B & M (huh huh, “BM”) get shitfaced EVERY NIGHT, and they’re wandering out there for something like a week or more! You’re four people going into the fucking jungle for an extended period of time, yet you waste precious food & water space for rum!? Unless those two are the world’s lightest lightweights and have been getting blitzed on a couple of shots a day, up yours movie! Fuckin’ “Blart of the Day” award winner.
Whether you side with Couple A as people with a goal who want to get things done, or Couple B as people who want to make it party time all the time because life’s too short to be a fuddy-duddy, you’re more than likely going to end up taking a side while watching them pick at each other and come close to blows several times. Did you agree with Bij & Mike when they gave Mand & Colb the double “single digit salute” and ran off with the party’s map and valuables? Or, did you get a little more joy than you thought you would when the rebel pairing start turning on each other because they’re both self-centered knobs (who can’t get along without getting their faces idiomatically shitted first) and deserve the pain and horror they’re in store for? Even if your investment is simply, “I can’t wait to watch (insert names here) DIE!”, it’s still an investment!
I also made notice of something else that helps flesh out the four a bit more in character terms upon this viewing. There’s a short “five questions” segment the group records prior to their expedition, where each answers a handful of queries like “Do you believe in god?” and “What’s your relationship with your parents?”. A quick and dirty way to add a little more depth to them without shoehorning the same shit into forced “this was clearly scripted” conversations later or leaving it out entirely.
Even without a lot of cannibal screen time, the movie still pulls from its action hat (also today’s sponsor: Action Hat!™) to keep tension engaged via conflicts between our Wonder Bread quartet and foreign antagonists in the shape of angry locals, would-be hijackers, and border guards who don’t take kindly to racial slurs shouted by an entitled honkey frat boy whom we can all enjoy knowing will never grow up to be a frat man, constantly telling his wife and kids about how lucky every other guy around him is that he doesn’t “beat their asses”. If only we could’ve watched him raped to death by CHUDs.
And there we have it: Welcome to the Jungle is a lot better than I remembered it. It’s typical found-footage failures (like “Why would you keep filming this when you should be running for your life?!” moments) and movie logic flops (Why would they bring so much alcohol!?) work against it, but it’s nowhere near the bottom of the barrel of festering fish paste that I tossed it into with my original opinionation. Not a big fan of the “surprise” ending where a fat old guy we’re supposed to suspect is the lost feller rocker wanders in front of the video camera, nor of the little detail the movie left out about how this found-footage was supposed to have been found, but that still doesn’t make it a horrid waste of 90 minutes. Overall, it’s a Log™ flick – it’s better than bad, it’s good! But not great.
Before I go, I’d like to say that my newly discovered non-hate for Welcome in no way absolves Jon Hensleigh for his fucking “the blond guy from Deep Blue Sea vs. Vinnie Barbarino” Punisher movie. An elaborate scheme involving parking tickets and diamond earrings just to make a mobster kill his own wife out of suspicion?! Having him slowly pulled behind a car to his inevitable death amidst a exploding parking lot?! Fuck you. Frank Castle would’ve just shot the whole family in their collective faces and burned their mansion down to get any of the survivors. In an otherwise overwhelmingly “okay” movie, those segments brought it down to Dyson Ball Vacuum levels. It didn’t just suck, it sucked so hard that if it were to engage in fellatio, it would implode its partner’s testicles, creating a scrotal black hole! In a more Punisher-centric comparable scenario, that movie sucks so hard that I’m convinced it took detailed notes on how to suck by watching Angela make love to the 2nd Amendment in that Night of the Demons 3 scene! In case your bad movie education didn’t include the NotD trilogy, let me bring you up to speed:
Anyway, tune in this Sunday for that “very special episode” I mentioned! Mark your calenders! Set an alert on your myfacespacebook page! As for me, I’m gonna order my Green Inferno tickets and listen to this inappropriately upbeat song. Keep it sleazy, kiddos!
“As this photo shows, Rockefeller was also apparently the proto-hipster from which all other hipsters devolved!”
When not being used for their intended function of providing milk for a nursing infant, the breasts of the human female have evolved to also serve as pillows! Evolution in action.
That’s either a decorative desk lamp or the world’s second largest martini.
The term is actually “caught behind the 8 ball”, but whatever. Oddly enough, this comes in right around the 13 minute mark…
Looks like we got another cracker who thinks his white privilege includes casual usage of the n-word!
“More of the you fucking white people and your reality shows?! By the nine tribes! How about you leave me alone until you bring The Price Is Right Live! tour with you!”
“Did you guys pull the short stick for your missionary group too? Oh well. At least if we die out here we’ll finally find out if all this Jesus stuff was worth it, right? Haha… ha….. ha.”
I’m all for leaving up the holiday decorations a few weeks past due, but somebody needs to tell these Asmat guys that Halloween was over six months ago!
Look, a big empty bonehead… and he’s holding a skull! *rimshot*
When bulimics go too far, things can get very messy.
“Hey! Get out of that river, you damn kids! That’s our drinking water!”
“Fiiiiiigarooooo! Figaro! Figaro! Figaro! Fiiiiiigaaaaarooooooo!”
“Don’t tase me bro! I’m unarmed!”
“Where the hell did the random old white guy come from?!”
“Oh, don’t mind him. That’s just our neighbor, Mr. Warner. He’s got dementia and wanders around the neighborhood sometimes. He won’t bother us. Let’s get back to our blood ritual!”
Anubis will return next time in
“Werewolves. Mayhem. Soap.”
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