Feature 93 – Woke Up Dead (2009)

or “Napoleon’s Waterloo”

Featuring: John “Napoleon Dynamite” Heder , Krysten “‘Jessica Jones’” Ritter , Josh “Frozen” Gad

Director: Tim “Correcting Christmas” O’Donell

Writers: John “Zombie Nightmare” Fasano

Origin: USA

Review_____

“I feel like a gay warlock.”

A pleasant post-‘Giving to you, maladies and not-so-gentle men. Today’s movie is the finale to Turkey Day Month 2016. Call it the dessert, if you will. We all know that pumpkin pie is the traditional after-dinner dish for the celebration, but Woke Up Dead is a new spin on an old favorite – the blumpkin pie. Instead of strait pumpkin pie filling, the blumpkin (sorry, “president-elect blumpkin”)’s filling is cut 50/50 with fresh diarrhea from a dysentery infected water buffalo, the crust is made with shredded cardboard soaked in dumpster water, while the cream topping isn’t dairy-based, but instead fresh lemur semen whipped in a men’s room toilet. The more pungent the lemur the better!

With that lovely image in mind, you are now adequately prepared for a slice of Woke Up Dead. Bone ape-tit!

If you’re anything like me, you’ve no doubt asked yourself at some point in your life, “Whatever happened to John Fasano?”. Well, as of 2014, the writer/director of such lynch pins in the history of film as Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare and Zombie Nightmare ain’t doin’ shit. Why? You may wanna sit down for this, because it turns out Mr. Fasano… well… you see…

Yep. Sadly enough, the man who helped introduced cinemasochists to the Velveeta geyser that is Jon Mikl Thor the actor (as opposed to the musician, for whom I cannot speak) is a few calendars removed from this mortal realm. Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare was truly a legacy to be proud of though, at least around here, because as someone who’s seen enough terrible movies to choke a Humpback, RnRN was one of the stupidest, ugliest, chodiest (yes, that’s a word… now) fucking movies I’ve EVER seen. But in a good way. Kind of. Or maybe I just have Stockholm Syndrome… or was that The Stendhal Syndrome? Fuck it. Either way, John Fasano’s worm food.

3 years prior to his passing, JF joined forces with the director of ‘Shasta McNasty’ (if you don’t know what those words mean, allow me to be your Rosetta Stone – “Do Not Watch This”) to give the zombie movie genre one final mental curb stomp in the shape of Woke Up Dead – a so-called movie that’s actually just the collected volumes of a web series of 22 4-ish minute episodes released over the month of October 2009 via Sony’s free video streaming service, Crackle.

Remember them? The service that later brought us those luster lacking Dead Rising movies? Indeed.

My decision to review this particular living dead waste of time is born of yet another of those obnoxious clickbait links littering your favorite websites. Not a “celebrities you didn’t know committed suicide!” list (which always seem to use a pic of the still-alive Jonathan Taylor Thomas), but one of those “Find out why no one in Hollywood will hire ______ anymore!” articles. The one in question promised to blow the roof off of the supposed backlot blacklisting of Napoleon Dynamite star Jon Heder. There was no need to waste precious minutes reading it though, since the day before I had made the mistake of watching Woke Up Dead. And as Gruncle Stan would say, “that just put me 90 minutes closer to death”.

I came across WUD while wandering aimlessly through the entertainment desert of free online streaming content mentioned above (Crackle, in case your short-term memory makes Verne Troyer look like Andre the Giant). Desperate for even the smallest drop of refreshment, my dried and cracked (yes, “cracked”) eyes came upon this pile of festering entrails soaked in beer farts pretending to be a movie. My “never ends well for me” curiosity was drawn in by Jon Heder (one of the most one-hit of one-hit wonders of the Willennium), while my Cialis fueled side locked onto Krysten Ritter: the televisual siren who first caught my eye in ‘Breaking Bad’, caught the other during ‘Don’t Trust the B(itch) In Apt 23’ and has held both of said oculars right up to ‘Jessica Jones’. This wouldn’t be the first time my lusty eyes have gotten me into trouble, nor will it be my last. At least until I can get some of those ritzy bionic eye implants. I’m just saving soda cans until I have enough to afford one of the x-ray vision models and another that comes with a death ray!

The show movie also stars semi-sought after offense-to-the-senses (and current thrall to the House of Mouse) Josh Gad as the comedy relief (a fraud deserving of litigation) and features “voted most likely in high school to be mistaken for Josh Gad’s biological father” Wayne Knight as a cubicle bound clone of his ‘Seinfeld’ nuisance, Newman. By the end of the movie (if you make it that far), you’ll agree that a face full of genetically engineered dinosaur venom couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy! Except Josh Gad. Speaking of, I’ll do my best to get us through this review like crap through a goose, but I make no legally binding promises, so leave your lawyers at home.

FINE! One morning, during his self-professed aimless life of meandering nothingness, our protagonist-to-be Drexel (Heder) is hit by a bus. He was likely distracted by concerns that the knock-off of REM's “The One I Love” he was listening to on his iPod was going to result in the production getting sued. Though killed in the exchange (as one often is when struck by a speeding bus), Drex wakes up later that day on the examining table of “attractive but not intimidatingly so” coroner Cassie (Ritter), just as she's about to perform his autopsy. You might think this to be fortunate for the lanky wanker, but given the molestery things that all who handle dead bodies on a daily basis get up to when alone with their work (didn't know Nekromantik was a documentary?), had D-Rex waited 10 more minutes he could’ve been hilt deep in Jessica fucking Jones! Too bad, boy-o. You botched living out one of my (wet) dreams. “To be dead?” Well, you’re leaving out the most important part (being ridden by Ritter – and I don’t mean John!), but sure! It wouldn’t even be the first time a woman wanted to jump my postmortem member (true story!), so don’t act so surprised.

A quick and “only in TV Land” conversation reveals that the pair coincidentally went to school together, but as with any scholastic peer relationship Cass has zero recollection of him while Drex is probably still soiling his favorite crunchy sock with the occasional memory of her when he wakes up in the morning. Drex-n-Effect then goes into a recap of the presumed pilot episode, chronicling the prior night’s events. He and his “can I uppercut this chode into a herd of stampeding bulls for my birthday?” roommate Matt (Gad) were attending a party in Southern Cali along with Drex’s girlfriend Debbie (Taryn Southern, who was born in Kansas and thus isn’t even southern!). While Dingus McPunchFace spent the evening trying to get college girls to flash their chesticles for his digital camera (ah, the charmingly obsolete technology of 2009), ‘Rexel (“Rectal”?) opted to exit stage left due to a knockin’ noggin. Seeking out his lady so they could hit the bricks, our leading man instead walked in on Debbie doing Dallas (not his actual name, but go with it) in a random bedroom. While he sat there whining in cuck mode, Matt attempted interjecting himself into the proceedings in an amateur porn effort. Do you understand now why I’d sooner see this sack of burning hair in a human suit drawn and quartered than sit through even 5 more minutes of his hippotwatamus antics?!

My violent daydreams not withstanding, Drex bemoans his Excedrin Headache #69 and the beach bum knuckles deep in his dream girl shows us he’s a cool guy by giving our hero zero a gel tab of unknown origin to kill the pain. More upset about his migraine than his manhood (SLC Punk‘s Stevo he is not), ‘Rex popped the presumed pharmaceutical before retreating home to sleep it off. He awoke later doing his best Whitney Houston impression in a full bathtub, only to find Shatt video eulogizing his presumably drowned (and presumably nekkid) body. Asking why his guy-who-looks-as-if-he-smells-of-unwashed-feet-and-canned-cheese roommate was recording him rather than trying to revive him, Uggo Von Porkpie replies that Drexed ‘Em Damn Near Killed ‘Em was submerged well past the point of human lung capacity and beyond the aid of any medical practitioner that isn’t Baron Samedi.


“Ooo eee ooo ah ah ting tang walla walla bing bang!”

Having “woke up dead” (a term we’ll hear a dozen more times before this is over), Drex is now a zombie, presumably due to the mysterious pill he ingested the night before. Then the bus hit him, which brings us up to speed. Intrigued by the opportunity to diagnose Drex’s heretofore unknown undead condition (and the fortune and fame that would come with it), Cassie injects herself into the geeky ghoul’s day-to-day, which he sees as the perfect chance to get his very own love interest now that Debbie’s back in the singles scene. As for Matt, he puts his dollar store Girls Gone Wild dreams on hold to catalog his friend’s new life as a living dead dork…so he can post the whole thing online and wrangle the reality TV rights. How has someone seriously not pushed this irredeemable pud tugger down a set of stairs by now?! The character has zilch in the integrity, empathy AND human decency departments, and there’s NOTHING he does for the rest of the series/movie to swerve us with a surprise showing of the opposite! The closest he gets to what Fasano probably mistook as a sympathetic character moment is whining to Drex later about how exploiting his supposed friend is the closest he’s ever come to getting a paycheck for making his idiotic videos! So, until this point he’s failed to make a career out of harassing people with his camera and we’re supposed to feel sorry for the disgusting little sociopath?! You know what makes this bullshit scene all the worse? That Drexel falls for it! How does showing us that our supposed hero is an easily manipulated dipstick make him in anyway endearing? How are we supposed to champion this simpleton when he’s ready to throw himself off of a building just to enable his shitbag associate to continue being a self-centered prick that abuses their relationship for financial gain with zero consideration for his friend/victim?!

In another poorly conceived “only in TV Land” cosmic coincidence, this is the exact time in his life when Drexel picks up a job doing data entry for the public records people. This access to LA’s master database of all things pertinent really comes in useful when the Three Muskatards need help tracking down leads later on, like the amateur pharmacist who gave Drex the mystery pill (turns out it was just an ibuprofen) or the further mysterious mystery of mysteriousness that is an unidentified source sending instant messages to Drex via his work computer, making thinly veiled references to his new status as a Zombie-American. That last one is never solved, by the way, as the show runners were a bit more keen on making a second season than, well, everyone else on the planet. Unfortunately, this new area of employment also introduces us to the humanoid infection known as Andrew (Knight), who shores up the “pelt the audience with an incessant amount of annoying fat guys in glasses” factor when Matt isn’t around. Constantly harassing Drex or scheming to get the new guy fired, Andy’s the physical manifestation of that really wet cough your one co-worker who’s always sick brings to work with them. He’s irritating, discomforting, and you just know that the longer you’re exposed to him, the more likely your immediate future is going to become miserable.

As the hi-jinks stumble along (with needless flashbacks to events that occurred just 10 minutes earlier being awkwardly jumbled in with them), Drexel’s progression into ghoulhood includes an inability to feel pain, an uncanny healing prowess (he can smash his fingers in a door and just pop them back into position like nothing happened or throw himself off of a building with nary so much as a limp after), enhanced speed and reflexes, heightened senses, an inefficacious digestive system that won’t allow him to hold down anything but animal brains, and the nauseating delusional power to believe that someone like Cass would be into a wretched sloth like Matt perving on her by incessantly trying to record footage of her lack of hinder and even more malnourished cleavage.

To anyone who knows me that would like to point out my own illicit interactions with members of the female species as the catalyst of perversion everyone knows me to be, mine are done in a harmless way that includes timing, wit, charm, compliments, and a familiarity that two people who know each other well enough can share without either party being uncomfortable and/or offended. On the rare occasion that my filthy aggression is unwanted, I cease and desist. Oh, and I also don’t follow them around with a camera bugging them to get their tits out under the erroneous erogenous objective of self-profit. I only request such intimate displays in payment for similar services rendered and personal perusal on nights where I’m too caffeinated to sleep.

For anyone who isn’t fond of my little personal sidebars such as the one that just happened, I needed an excuse to get away from talking about Woke Up Dead for a few sentences, otherwise I’d be putting myself as an escalated risk for a brain hemorrhage. It’s hard enough to keep my thoughts from turning into a broken kaleidoscope without adding a physical impairment atop the preexisting mental ones! Okay. With my little cognitive coffee break accounted for, shall we get back to the daunting task at hand? As much as I’d like to say no, I’d hate to leave the episode unfinished. You’re welcome…or I’m sorry? Not important. Sally forth!

The longer this goes on, the less Drexel’s condition sounds like zombism and more like a Sony exec’s “suggestion” that the show try to appeal to both zombie fans and superhero fans. Or maybe just long-term Highlander fans who miss following the exploits of a male lead whose death leads to his discovery that he’s an immortal? Either way, this whole scenario is a clusterfuck that will leave you wondering why it was made in the first place, but leave you 100% sure as to why there was never a 2nd season. The chance of it becoming a cult classic whose die hard supporters (let’s call these non-existent people “Wakers”… and it’s no accident that it’s one letter away from “Wankers”) put together a campaign to demand a follow-up carries as much likelihood as Santa Claus riding a flaming meteorite into the White House and emerging from ground zero as our new holly jolly dictator-for-life.

“Warrwulf?”

When he overhears M and C making fun of him one day as the pair riff on Zombie Nightmare, the already down on himself Drex decides to track down the unknown IMer on his own, putting himself in danger for reasons I’m not willing to go back and watch it a third time to verify. His lone wolf act ultimately leads nowhere when the power of friendship ends up reuniting the trio (remember, 5 minute episodes and all that) and leads to the discovery of another undeader named Aurora (Meital Dohan). An evocatively dressed blonde who sounds like she was brought here C.O.D. from an unnamed country in Eastern Europe (her accent rakes my fucking brain), ‘Rora has taken the bad girl route with her new talents and set herself down a path of super speed jewelry store heists. Well, she had a criminal record before her transformation, but now she can actually get away with it.

She educates our lead lad on how to dodge bullets (only a decade behind the bullet-time craze) and shows him that barely-food like hot dogs can serve as an alternative way to sate his brain hunger. He could probably spend the rest of his life eating pink slime and sucking the congealed slime out of cans of Vienna sausages, but I’d rather opt for a steady diet of gray matter, were I him. Not just a trailer park hooker-with-a-heart-of-tin-foil, Aurora’s primary goal in all this is to seduce Drex into being her new accomplice. Meanwhile, he counters by trying to convince her to detour down the straight and narrow, offering to break into his job and set her up with a new identity, relieving her of her employment disqualifying past. Your classic Batman/Catwoman or Spider-Man/Black Cat relationship, destined to end with both resenting the other for trying to change them and each going their own way faster than Fleetwood Mac (N Cheese).

Cassie gets jealous when D starts to ignore his pals (just like most people do when they start getting their private parts poked at by someone new), clearly setting the stage for an intended hook-up betwixt the two in the never-to-be season la deuce. Lucky for her that the inevitable break-up occurs when Drex tricks ‘Ro-ro into breaking into his data entry job for his identity reassignment plan and the two come to the conclusion that they’re better off apart. The most notable moment of this scene? Super Melania opens a locked door by simply smashing its security card reader.

I wonder why other criminals never thought to do that? Oh wait…

Having overcome the sexually charged temptations of evil

Uhm, yes. Evil. As I was saying, having proven himself a tool of positive moral character, Drexel decides to take the Uncle Ben stance of using his great powers with great responsibility and takes a personal vow of heroism. The first step of his new life as a good doer? Threatening to murder Andy if he doesn't stop being a dickhead. Granted, it's a bit more Frank Castle than Peter Parker, but even Batman had to kill a few guys before taking on a life of non-lethal vigilantism! Don't believe me? Look it up! Pointy ears started off his crime-fighting career breaking necks, strangling people, throwing others from fatal heights, tossing one guy into a vat of acid and, in complete diametric opposition of the character he would become, gunning down goons in cold blood left and right! He made Dirty Harry look like Hanukkah Harry!

After putting the poopies into Andrew’s Underoos, Dre returns home to have his newly throbbing shaft of blue steel confidence pummeled into flaccid submission when he finds his mother Maryl (Jean Smart) waiting for him. In typical sitcom form, mom’s a mega bitch who neglected ‘Rex for most of his upbringing and forced him to eat purple sandwiches… it’s a long story that goes nowhere, so don’t ask. She’s just here to drop some last minute cliffhanger bullshit about her connection to what’s really behind her son’s recent case of post life super puberty. Something about a cult she and her husband were members of in the ’70s-’80s called The Sleepers whose intention was to unlock humanity’s true potential through some pothead Altered States hippie shit. While we leave our main cast to stare at each other with mouths agape in anticipation for answers that were never meant to be revealed (and that were probably never written in the first place), elsewhere we discover that Aurora’s been working this whole time with an Army Intelligence doofus who’s not only been shadowing Drex since his Quickening (and who I didn’t mention until now because who cares), but has been keeping tabs on an entire apparent collective of “Woken”.

Which may or may not mean the same thing as whatever the current definition of “woke” is. I lost my +1 invite into the black community and forgot the secret handshake, so I’m just staying out of the whole “fine line between allyship and appropriation” debate. I get enough dirty looks for being a white boy who bitches about movies under the alias of the blackest member of the Egyptian pantheon as it is. However, once president-elect blumpkin ignites American Civil War II, I will gladly scalp as many crackers of their confederate flag bandannas as needed to prove which side I’m on.

Movies/shows like Woke Up Dead are so painful to watch that they take time off of my life. Literally. I have one of those arm band debit card dealies like Justin Timberlake had in In Time and every time I watch something this horrible, my lifeforce account takes a mule kick to its figurative asshole. Not even the cheeks, but square in the sphincter itself! Think nothing could be worse than being part of a human centipede? Try again. Even if you feel like you’re starting to get used to WUD, it shows there are still kidney shivving levels of awful through which it will drag you further. Just when you start to sympathize with Andy Dufresne’s cramped septic tunnel crawl, you see you’re only half way through the runtime and realize that the final 200 yards of said pipe are lined with a whole lotta barbed wire and broken glass for no apparent reason! I’d like to say I came out of the end credits with the same roar of defiant victory demonstrated by Gale during his own penitentiary exodus in Raising Arizona, but I did not. I was laid out bare, beaten, empty and exhausted. Nearly broken if not for the stubborn anger that has long since turned my heart into concrete and my spirit into Kevlar.

I reviled this epic instance of entertainment incompetence, but the flames of my rage were snuffed out every time I attempted to put any effort into writing this review. For Turkie’s sake, any thanks that I gave for this year’s annual giving of meal (of which there were very few) must now be rescinded, not just because this exists, but because the Herculean task of forcing my fingers to transcribe these words has, again, stolen precious time from my life that could have been spent doing useful things like banging my shins repeatedly against the coffee table or trying to talk sense into people who refute science in favor of archaic dogmatic verses while doing so on their fucking smart phone. Strike 15,827 for the human race. But you’ve been there for all of my gripes already, so let’s get downright heretical and spend the rest of this episode taking the show/movie’s creator to task!

If John Fasano were a John Cusack movie, he’d be Better Off Dead, because barring me making a descent into the Ninth Circle (he’s there for the treachery of presenting this to viewers as being about zombies and being funny), his passing means he gets to avoid my justified wrath for giving us the most grossly humorless “comedy” endeavor since whatever the Hel Adam Sandler’s been putting on NetFlix. Would that I could voodoo the departed Mr. Fasano’s carcass back to unlife, tie him to a chair, then set his feet on fire and watch him suffer for his crimes. Had he a grave Cerberus and I could piss napalm on, we would. Daily. For the rest of my life. 16 months, give or take.

And for anyone who thinks it uncouth to shit talk the deceased, get over it. The dead don’t care if you speak ill of them. They’re DEAD. Have you ever been to a séance where the phantasm tells Mark to stop talking trash about them now that they’re gone? No. It’s always “I must remain in limbo until you gather my scattered remains and bury them on the consecrated grounds of my ancestors!” or “TOM STEWART KILLED ME!”. As such, fuck you Fasano. Rock n Roll Nightmare and Zombie Nightmare were garbage, but at least they were the kind of garbage you can play in and have fun with. Woke Up Dead is just a swimming pool full of used hypodermic needles. HIV infected needles. HIV isn’t funny. You know what else isn’t? Woke Up Dead. It’s appropriate that your heart failed you, John, because you failed everybody who’s ever made the mistake to choke down this tripe. Keep my seat in Hel warm for me, you soul patch sporting douche pipe, because you’re in for an eternity of Indian Burns!

By the way, apologies to anyone who knew John personally and read the above paragraphs. Their malice was most assuredly intended, but not toward you or your feelings for the guy. Given the crap he created, I imagine that the late Mr. F was aware of how terrible his movies were and was hopefully the type to roll with the punches and, perhaps, even would have embraced the effort and cadence with which I figuratively painted his face with my scrotum during this review. From my experiences, most makers of the movies bemoaned in The Tomb actually end up appreciating the reviews despite the oft times extremely negative connotations, so hopefully he would’ve been counted among them. If anyone makes it a point to collect call him from beyond the grave in one of those aforementioned Ouija dalliances though, I’d love to get his reaction!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve still got approximately 15lbs of leftovers taking up much needed real estate in my Frigidaire right now just waiting in line for their spot on the roller coaster that is my digestive tract. Join me next time when a certain costumed fat man with a penchant for boys sitting on his lap stops by for some seasonal cheer! Until then, consider this TTFN*!

(*Ta-Ta, Fuck Nose)

Moral of the Story: You forfeit your dignity when you serve Doritos with a spoon. Think about it. Or don’t. I’m not your mother. At least not that you know of…

Screenshots_____


You mean like one of those farms where they breed chinchillas, then send 30k volts up their asses to kill them so they can be harvested for their fur? In that case, very fitting name.


Miss Ritter made the same face when I showed her the “I ❤ K R” design I'd shaved my pubes into for her birthday. I don't think she liked it.


A shot from Heder’s Aquaman audition for Warner Bros. They said no because he could only hold his breath for 7 seconds and has the body of Jimmy Olson, but they let him try anyway for laughs.


A disturbing shower situation that I’m sure Grandma Gad has had to reprimand Josh for several times over the years.


The true story behind that time Heder told his Twitter followers to pray for his “girlfriend” because she’d been in a horrible accident.


At least co-workers’ brains are healthier than the room temperature can of Chef Boyardee ravioli he usually has for his lunch break.


I’m pretty sure Wayne Knight’s never eaten an apple that wasn’t candied or drown in sugar and baked into a pastry of some kind.


“I never get tired of my old Andrew Dice Clay tapes! ‘Bada boom’! Hahahaha!”


From Gad’s tryout tape for the Blair With Project sequel. Not only did he not get that role, but it couldn’t even get him a cameo in Scary Movie V years later.


“Don’t ask me! I don’t know how I manage to keep getting paying jobs either!”


“Looks like Mel Gibson’s back on the bottle. Such a shame… Make sure you get everything nice and clear so we can really squeeze TMZ for this one!”


“Don’t worry about money, honey. I didn’t care for Napoleon Dynamite, but after tonight I’ll have been entered by all three stars of The Benchwarmers! It’s my FAVORITE movie!”


The manager at A&W asked her to bring her resume with her for the job interview. Instead she said “Here’s my resume”, pulled a hot dog out of her purse and started doing that. She didn’t get the job.


Alternate joke: She’s gonna need a lot more training if she hopes to stand a chance at next year’s Nathan’s July 4th contest.


Drexel finally gives up trying to scan Andy’s head at work and resorts to the good ol’ fashioned way. And boy was he bursting with fruit flavor! And here I thought everyone around the office called him “Gusher” for a more sexually nauseating reason.


“A Kickstarter for a ‘Designing Women’ sequel movie? I’ve told you a hundred times, Josh – NO. Remember what my lawyer said would happen if you didn’t stop bothering me about this? As far as I’m concerned, Charlize Stillfield is dead and she’s never coming back!”

———————————————————
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Anubis will return next time in
“Pogo’s Big Adventure”

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

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

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Feature 90 – The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again (2016)

or “Even Smiling Makes My Face Ache”

Featuring: Laverne “‘Orange is the New Black’” Cox , Ryan “‘Liv and Maddie’” McCartan , Victoria “‘Victorious’” Justice

Director: Kenny “Hocus Pocus” Ortega

Based on the screenplay by: Richard “I’m not involved with this remake in any way” O’Brien & Jim “No comment I could find online, but I’m pretty sure he’s also distanced himself from it” Sharman

Origin: USA

Remake/Rebranding of: The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Review_____

“Lost in time and lost in space… and meaning.”

It’s that time of year again, you turkeys! Let’s Do the Time Warp Again was meant to be an October review, but when I saw just how horrible it was, I thought it more appropriate to not denigrate the sacred month of 8 and instead lump it in with Turkey Day Month 2016. Read on and I’ll think you’ll agree. Won’t you?

This was originally supposed to be a capsule review for The Tomb’s Facebook page, but I had so much bitching to do by the midpoint of this abominable TV ghost of cult movies past that I felt it needed the full episode treatment. Also, I’m almost completely sure that there’s no way for me to jam pics and gifs into Facebook reviews, and they really needed to be a part of this to help properly illustrate my loathing. As such, let’s check out The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again, shall we?

Also, the doors are all locked and their knobs have been replaced with used dildos amassed from the dumpster behind the local retirement home, so just sit the fuck down and share my suffering.

When I heard about Fox’s intentions to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Richard O’Brien’s golden child with this made-for-TV remake, I got the typical “Pavlov’s dog” response to remakes that most of us over the age of 30 are stabbed in the kidneys with at least three times a year anymore. Unlike the original brainwashed canine, though, we don’t drool uncontrollably. Instead, we vomit vitriol and disappointment out of both ends, taking breaks to ingest large reserves of blue PowerAde into our systems to stem dangerous dehydration. We ultimately end up with acid burned throats and burning red sphincters glowing from magmatic agony while some cunts in Hollywood dream of rubbing stacks of stupid peoples’ money on their genitals. All of the online petitions, cries of protest and message board threats of sexual assault result in nothing changing, and we all just end up dying a little inside knowing that something we love has been weighed down with an anchor of garbage, then tossed into the murky depths of the “Nobody Cares! Get Over It!” sea.

But sometimes, if you keep the faith, say your prayers, and sacrifice just enough of your personal stockpile of pessimism, you will be rewarded. The whore mongers you accused of raping your inner child turn out to be fellow followers of your familiar fandom, and do right by your shared affection – not tarnishing its name, but instead adding to its legacy! Whole new generations learn to respect and revere these franchises, lifting them to new heights, sharing them with the world, spreading their gospel! Yes, sometimes you corporate mainstream meddlers in your ivory towers can cast off the scarred branding of “defilers”, bring pride to your executive producer credits…

…Hahahahahahahahahahahaha! Yeah, and then the drugs wore off! Sure, there’s the occasional worthwhile redo out there (The Hills Have Eyes and Evil Dead, anyone?), but the turds tend to outweigh the treasures by 100 to 1. Guess which side of said ratio Fox’s Rocky Horror remake stakes its claim? Here’s a hint: much like a thrice expired jar of Ortega salsa once tormented me with the drizzling shits, so now has Kenny Ortega done to an entire television viewing audience. All we wanted was NOT to have another beloved movie ruined with a remake.

“But Anubis, Kenny Ortega also gave us Hocus Pocus and Newsies! How could his version of Rocky Horror be that bad!?” First of all, didn’t I fit you with a ball gag when you came in!? Secondly, allow me to send up a surface-to-air missile to bring your Happy Hands down in flames – Kenny Ortega’s also the guy behind the High School Musical trilogy. The higher your hopes get, the harder I will make them fall…at least until the point of terminal velocity. Once they hit that, I mean, that’s as hard as they can fall, whatever the height. Either way, FUCK YOUR HOPES! MWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!

Anyway, by now we should be intimately familiar with the misadventures of Brad Majors and Janet Weiss, so let’s not dawdle with the details. And if you don’t know the story already, a hearty Conan the Schwarzenegger “To HEL wit’choo!”. Seriously though, for you neophytes out there (or those of you in need of a refresher), you can pop out your peepers and observe Episode 64 for my review of last year’s “Rocky Horror Show Live!” BBC special to get caught up. The rest of you? In the interest of keeping it short like Tyrian Lannister after a trip through The Tall Man’s midgetizing tanks, let’s try something new and make this a simple pass/fail review! Onward and upward, you sons and daughters of Oblivion!

► For starters, showing your RHPS remake at 8PM? Weak. Its cult status is that of a midnight movie, so shoehorning it into a prime time slot? You’re already starting off on the wrong foot with the fans, Fox. FAIL.

► The “Science Fiction/Double Feature” intro is now sung by a generic “white girl with a deep voice” usherette cast away from Hot Topic, played by Ivy Levan. I know nothing of her work or if anyone else even knows who she is, but she feels very much like a poor man’s Christina Aguilera/Lady Gaga/Adele/Amy Winehouse. I dislike her “try to make it ‘soulful’ like an ‘American Idol’ contestant singing the National Anthem” cover. FAIL. And I’m not saying this to be mean, Ivy, but I’ve got two words for ya: Crest Whitestrips.

► The entire segment in general? When compared to the original “Patricia Quinn’s disembodied mouth lip syncing Richard O’Brien’s singing” opening credits? No. And allow me to get this out of the way now for anyone who’s gonna try to call me out about how this remake is supposed to be different: if you don’t want comparisons to the original, DON’T DO A FUCKING REMAKE! FAIL.

► On its own merits though, this beginning makes for a fair music video style intro to the show, so I’ll also throw it a PASS. And don’t say I can’t do that. You don’t come into my house (or tomb, in this case) and start diddling my thermostat. At least not if you want to keep your fingers on your hands and not poking out of Ammut’s litter box.

► Presenting your made-for-TV remake as if it were being shown at an RHPS midnight theatrical show, complete with audience participation? The more you remind me of how much I’d rather be watching the original is not going to work in your favor, Fox. Pretending your version is cool because it’s framed with meta humor is lame. And not “so lame it’s cool”, Marge, so don’t even start. No, it’s lame like Christy Brown without all the artistic talent. Stop it. FAIL.

► Wait, so the actors are all emulating the original’s cast through hammy acting and overzealous mannerisms? Oh boy. I can’t imagine this sitting well with the teenagers this is being aimed at, who probably don’t know it’s supposed to be campy. Kinda torn on this one, since I hate camp for camp’s sake, but it’s sticking faithful to the tone so… Fuck it. PASS.

► Well, Ryan McCartan’s Brad is definitely the ideal of all-American young male doofiness. Meanwhile, Victoria Justice’s Janet has the “starry-eyed girl next door” thing down, though I do miss Susan Sarandon’s adorable bug-eyes. PASS.

► The Hapschatts’ marriage mobile’s “Wait ‘Til Tonite, She Got Hers Now He’ll Get His” shaving cream graffiti replaced by “She Said I Do, Now I’m Doing” instead. “Now I’m Doing”?! Is that even English? No. Whomsoever is responsible for that, get “doing” with a live light socket. FAIL.

► Post stroke Tim Curry putting in a cameo as The Criminologist? Smells like a poor attempt at Fox trying to convince the fanbase that this was a good idea. FAIL.

► Sadly, it’s not like Curry’s getting roles thrown at him today what with his current state, so at least he got a paycheck out of this. That part gets a pity PASS.

► Janet’s joke of “The owner of that phone might be a beautiful woman and you may never come back again.” is too on the nose now, given Frank’s re-casting/re-assignment. FAIL.

► Reeve Carney, you put way too much spirit into your Riff-Raff. He’s supposed to be menacing and broken, not starring in a production of “Rock of Ages”. I’d tell you to go back to playing Peter Parker in “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark”, but, well, we all know what happened with that… Also, where’s your bald cap!? And your hunch?! And your accent sucks. And your twangy country western lite rendition of “The Time Warp” makes me want to fill my ears with flesh-eating scarabs. Cease and desist. FAIL.

► Same goes for your Magenta, Christina Milian. You’re supposed to be depraved and imposing, not just some prancing tart in a sparkling maid outfit and hot pink fright wig. Your accent also sucks. A lot. Homosexual rest stop vampire Count Gaylord would take a break from his Saturday night slurp circle to tell you its suckitude is “a little much”. FAIL.

► One of the things Fox has been raked over the coals for on RHPSLDtTWA! is neutering it by turning the risque level down to a ‘3’. Despite this, the singers during the “Time Warp” scene are performing from between the wooden cut-out of a pair of 10′ tall legs positioned to look like they’re a woman on her back. So for all intents and purposes, this trio is supposed to appear to be singing while ankles deep in a giantess’s lapple pie…I don’t even…what…the fuck…am I looking at?! Either way, the dancers in this “toned down” version are all dry humping the shit out of each other for 10 minutes, so I guess it was just the “gay stuff” that Fox felt the need to back off on? FAIL.

► The Transylvanians all get their own unique costumes?! They’re supposed to be background fodder, not an attention grabbing orgy of extras in gaudy silver crotch-hugger outfits hopped up on Spanish Fly grinding against each other in a desperate display of “Look at me! I’m important too! Look at me!”. This smells like the meddling of a bunch of bit parters’ agents…who are probably also their parents. Fucking show biz parents. FAIL.

► Annaleigh Ashford’s Columbia is just heyday Cyndi Lauper with “I sucked off Papa Smurf” blue raspberry Blow Pop tongue? Riff Raff plays an electric guitar with a neon blue light-up neck? Fuck’s sake, Ortega, did your Wayback Machine run out of batteries when you re-imagined this!? RHPS was from nineteen SEVENTY-five, not nineteen EIGHTY-five! GAH! I feel like there should’ve been a part to go with this half-assed ’80s vibe where Brad refers to something as being “Bradical!”, because if you’re going to fuck the audience, you might as well go balls deep. FAIL.

► P.S. – Ashford’s “non-acting acting” is nails on a gods damned chalkboard. I’ll take Little Nell’s proto-Harley Quinn with the cracking, squeaky voice 10 times out of 10 over this deadpan Darlene Connor knock-off bullshtick. My heart (and my legs) are always open to sarcastic doom-and-gloom nihilist types, but not Columbia, damn it! FAIL.

► Rather than meeting Frank as our protagonists originally did, coming down in his little elevator to the anticipatory build of both the heroes and the audience, the modern incarnation instead sees her descending onto the set aboard a massive camera crane in some weird Mayan showgirl outfit. Though I can appreciate the spectacle, that’s all it is – a spectacle. The headdress is appealingly garish, but also more sizzle than steak. One of the story’s biggest moments burned to the ground. If gravitas were gravity, this version of the host’s introduction would be taking place on the moon. All-in-all, a big floating FAIL.

► It’s sad too, because Laverne Cox (what an ironic name…) puts on a fairly fair Frank impression. Unfortunately, as I’ve been griping about to my fellow Frankie Fans, this casting puts a silver bullet through the heart of the entire show. Put your PC sticks away too, because I have zero issue with a black person playing Frank and zero issue with a transgender person playing Frank. As long as they can play the role justice, it would be mathematically impossible for me to care less about skin color or background. And if you wanted to hire a transitioned male person to play Frank, that would be great too! But no, Frank being played by a woman ruins the point of his seduction of Brad and his attempts at forcing a hetero man-child of his own creation to be gay rather than Rocky instead dipping his hot dog in Janet’s mustard. And don’t give me the “Well, Laverne used to be a man!” argument either, because it holds water as well as Joel Robinson’s Wiffle cup. Who Laverne was has no bearing on who she is while playing the role in this movie. Championing her as a former man is like carting her around as a sideshow attraction. She’s a woman now, and a woman playing Frank goes against the point of Frank. FAIL.

► But, again, Cox plays the role pretty well compared to how much the rest of the cast fail their parts. Too bad she couldn’t have taken the role prior to transitioning. Despite my dislike of the casting, and her not putting enough of a bite into some of her delivery (her flaccid read of “I didn’t make him FOR YOU!” is especially disappointing), her performance gets a PASS.

► Damn it, Ortega! You fucked up the close-up shots during “Sweet Transvestite”! How fucking hard is it to do a couple of quick cuts rather than just setting the camera behind B & J and hitting “REC” while you take a piss break? FAIL.

► Staz Nair looks the part of Rocky as far as physiques go (though his frosted tips will give people Backstreet flashbacks), but turning his gold bodybuilder briefs into golden basketball shorts (that look like they’re made of a spray-painted elephant scrotum) just furthers Fox’s flaccid homophobic approach to this remake. Have I mentioned that it’s an abomination? If I haven’t, make a note of it. FAIL.

► Adam Lambert’s Eddie comes Evel Knieveling through a window (rather than out of Frank’s meat locker…not to be confused with her meat curtains…though that would’ve been an interesting twist), looking like some kind of lupine biker that shames anything in Werewolves on Wheels. He’s Eddie by way of Wolverine after a rough night in a leather bar. It works. PASS.

► But his singing voice lacks the macho boom of a rotund rocker like Meatloaf. A savage disappointment to hear a guy that looks so bruiserly have such a, well, Adam “Glambert” Lambert voice. When he’s mugging for camera during his song, it looks like he’s struggling not to scratch at a bad case of jock itch. FAIL.

► Rather than being pick-axed more times than a gold mine in the 1840s, Eddie ends up stabbed and falls out of a window. Fear not, as the dinner scene still happens later as planned, but this version of Edward’s demise is no prize. Frank’s subtle efforts at shiving the big lug in the guts is no match for psychotic Swiss cheesing given to the original article. FAIL.

► Given the gender swap, Frank’s seduction of the young couple doesn’t have the same impact, especially with how many “bi for the guys” college age girls have saturated pop culture in the last decade plus. Shooting said moments like regular scenes rather than from behind the veil of smutty silhouettes also kills the voyeuristic tone carried by the originals, losing both the style AND the substance in this instance. Blart. It’s a bad miss. FAIL.

► Watching a former Nickelodeon child star in her underwear fooling around with another woman is…not really having an effect on me, since I never watched whatever show it is she was the star of. Besides, after everything we’ve seen out of Miley Cyrus, former child stars doing adult stuff in little-to-no clothing will never carry the same taboo. Not a pass/fail scenario, I just thought I’d point that out.

► Ben Vereen sounds more like Morgan Freeman than Dr. Scott. With this change in character also comes the unfortunate negation of Scottie’s former role as a defected Nazi scientist. Now he’s just “elderly wheelchair man with Einstein hair”. FAIL.

► The dinner scene slips in a new *wink*wink* line for long-termers, as Columbia complains “I hope it’s not meatloaf again.” in regards to the meal’s main course. Cute. I’ll take it. PASS

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► Additionally, though I hated “too cool to play along” slacker Columbia, as her tragic losses mount, she’s falling into place as the broken girl on the brink of losing what sanity she has left. Good. PASS.

► Kudos to McCartan, whose turn in the floor show as “broken man-baby in ladies lingerie” Brad denotes a man of courage. It’s also probably the moment in the whole movie most loyal to the tone of the original. He gets a PASS.

► Speaking of the floor show, all of the Transylvanians are present in this version. It kills the intimate focus on the main characters having an entire audience. Furthermore, you’ve not got two dozen people in the theater, but nobody does anything to stop Riff when he comes in with his neon guitar laser? They all just disappear during “I’m Going Home”? FAIL.

► The siblings’ new silver outer space glam rock heavy metal outfits are fun at least. PASS.

► While trying to escape with Frank’s corpse, there’s no RKO tower prop for Rocky to scale, so an iconic moment ends up as just another FAIL.

► On the plus side, when Rock dies near Frank, he does so reaching out to her a la Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam” painting, notably featured in the original RHPS‘s “Don’t Dream It, Be It” swimming pool scene. PASS.

► Brad, Janet and Dr. S sell the finale of their nocturnal excursion like they’re stumbling through a nuclear fallout, then just roll up their arm length gloves (well, Brad does) and walk off stage right like everything’s suddenly fine, no selling the fact that an entire castle is launching into the stratosphere not 10 feet to their left. Cool guys don’t look at explosions? FAIL.

For those keeping score, that makes for 11 “PASS”es and 23 “FAIL”s. According to my math (meaning no one can verify it but me, so don’t correct me), in Tomb terms, Let’s Do the Time Warp Again should get a 1.666 out of 5 rating. Traditionally, that would mean it rounds up to a 2, but there’s no way I can award a 2 to this movie. Instead, I’ll add a little personal bias to the data and round down to a 1. After all, reviews are all about the writer’s opinion, and bias is a part of opinion so, again, don’t correct me. Checkmate.When all is said and done (and “doing”?), this is just another remake for the “that didn’t need to happen” pile. It’s a befuddling muddle fuck that tries to be faithful to the original while doing new things, a tightrope it fails to cross and thus falls into the pool of starved crocodiles below. Everybody involved should’ve ignored the movie’s motto of “Don’t dream it, be it.” and just kept their desires for this production in their own nightmares and dreamscapes. For a production that tries in every way to be more over-the-top colorful than its predecessor, the performances are decaf as fuck for the most part. It feels…sterile. Whether it’s Ortega’s head we hang the shame hat on for wanting his cast to act the way they do, or we need to put in an order for a dozen more shame hats to cover the heads of the cast members themselves, somebody has to take responsibility. And when the ambition didn’t feel like it was under the floorboards, it was coming on too strong from actors whose characters are supposed to be restrained!

Have I been changed in any way by my viewing of this remake? Not really. Though I had no idea who Kenny Ortega was (aside from a guy whose name sounds an awful lot like New Japan wrestler Kenny Omega) before, now he’s got a spot on my enemies list. So…there’s that.

For those who enjoyed RHPSLDtTWA (it’s nice to know I’ll never have to type out that acronym again), good for you. I’m not going to tell you you’re wrong. However, if you use the following trains of thought to defend said stance, assume crash positions, because you’re about to be derailed.

► “But shadow casts happen every week all around the world and plenty of them include female Franks! Do you complain about those?!” No. Female Franks are usually done with shadow casts that don’t have enough guys to fill all of the male roles, or by groups where no guy is brave enough to dance around in women’s underwear in front of a crowd. Besides, this is a nationally broadcast remake, not some midnight screening at the Podunk Village Actors Guild Hall.

► “But ‘why did you hate this iteration so much, but not ‘Rocky Horror Live‘?! You just hate young people and things not aimed as you!” False equivalency. That was a live show, based on the musical, not the movie based on the musical, thus it wasn’t supposed to be faithful to the movie. Additionally, it was a production overseen by Richard O’Brien, so when the creator of the entire fucking phenomenon decides he wants to tinker with the formula, he’s more than welcome to! Also, had you actually read my review for the show in question, you’d remember that I wasn’t entirely thrilled with it either.

► “But Frank is an alien! Maybe he/she didn’t have an Earthly sex and you’re just projecting your archaic gender roles! Open your eyes, you Nazi sheep!”. Shut your fucking face, uncle fucker. Did you forget the numerous times Frank was referred to as “him” and “he” by the rest of the cast in the original RHPS? Just in case you did, remake Frank’s referred to numerous times as “her” and “she”, so again, cram it down your suck hole.

And that’s as much as I’m interested in talking about Let’s Do the Time Warp Again. Now that I’ve done my duty, it’s time for me to be doing. What? No fucking clue. Hope you enjoyed your Halloweening indulgences, kids. I also hope you had your younger siblings “test bite” your candy first for safety’s sake. You don’t wanna show up to Thanksgiving with a razor blade smile!

Moral of the Story: If you’re going to do a remake, stick to the source material. If you’re going to do a “re-visioning”, go all the way…and prepare for a hardcore backlash, especially if you fuck it up.

Screenshots_____

There are enough in the bullet-points above. See ya next time, ladles and germs!

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Anubis will return next time in
“Balls of Fury”

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