Featuring: Alexandra “Boy Meets Girl” Turshen , Keenan “First Person” Henson , Caitlin “‘Continuum’” Cromwell
Writer & Director: Bradley “Clearly wrote his own IMDB biography” Stryker
The Evil Dead Bride and your humble narrator were perusing the alcohol offerings at NileMart the other day when we discovered that, not long after the re-emergence (and re-disappearance) of Crystal Pepsi, fellow transparent ’90s punchline drink Zima is now also back on the market. My long standing theory that the latter is just a fermented form of the former? Confirmed.
Pop culture footnote beverage humor aside, after finally conquering the world’s Russia problem with my last review (The Guardians), it’s time to live up to my promises, play a game of ketchup (“catsup” if you’re nasty) and get the circus train back on its tracks. Well, not the whole circus. It’s more like I’m about to abandon an overbooked clown car on a railroad crossing, let the 7:06 bullet from Tarker’s Mill do the dirty work for me, then all I’ve gotta do is report on the aftermath.
In the interest of transparency, I admit that I’m taking some liberties when it comes to Land of Smiles being a killer clown flick, especially when it comes to the whole “painted horrors” technicality, but if the oozing cold sore on America’s dick can give ethics the tiny middle finger by appointing government positions to his defective offspring and filling his cabinet with the highest bidders, I can bend the rules of the Republic of Tombistan. Though the movie’s antagonists conceal their faces under the visage of sinister jesters, they do so with rubber masks, possibly purchased from the clearance bin of a Spirit Halloween pop-up store. It’s not like the world’s lacking in movies out in the nebulous “there” that center on actual grease-painted murderous mirth makers, I just thought I could use a little change of subgenre scenery. It’s not as if I signed any kind of contract (at least not one that falls under the jurisdiction of any mortal justice system) saying I can’t, so just make like a shed uterine lining and go with the flow, Joe!
The basis for Smiles is nothing new. It’s about backpacking Americans whose vacation to a beautiful country they’ve never been to before leads to the reveal of a seamy underbelly that threatens to swallow them whole in its gaping maw of stranger danger, inducing increased paranoia in any members of its audience who already didn’t need any more reasons to never take a vacation beyond pitching tents and making s’mores in their own backyard. See Wolf Creek, Turistas, A Perfect Getaway, Eli Roth’s Hostel flicks and, of course, The Hangover Part II. I would’ve included The Ruins on that list, but that’s supernatural horror and thus does not fall under the “people from other countries are the real monsters” xenophobia gimmick.
Our vulnerable young travelers begging to never be heard from again are lifelong friends and overly confident American college students Abby (Aleandra Turshen) and Penny (Krista Donargo). Having planned a trip to Thailand together for the longest time (oh, oh, oh, for the longest time), Abby earns her BFF of 19 years’ ire when she backs out of their girls only vacation to stay near her boyfriend Brad (Brandon Nagle), who more than likely didn’t like the idea of his girlfriend being half-way across the globe and possibly getting peanut sauce licked off her ass by some beefcake with jungle herpes.
In a moment that can only be scripted (and poorly at that), Ab’s sacrifice of Pen’s friendship blows up in her face almost instantaneously when her attempt to surprise Brad with a candlelit cupcake (birthday/anniversary?) leads to her walking in on Brad in the middle of a Skinemax bump n’ hump session with Lacy (Charisse Bellante) – a random blonde who comes off just as “trashy party girl who’s upset she never got to be in a Girls Gone Wild DVD” in her sex making as her name would suggest. To any Lacys out there who take offense to that, I’m sorry, but maybe your parents shouldn’t have named you after a style of lingerie trim.
Blinded by confusion and rage, Abby unleashes a few shots of Cowboy Mike’s Extra Bold Red Hot Ricochet Pepper Spray upon the ocular orbs of the indignant fornicators, apologizing at first before revoking said formality and storming out in justified rage. If you think pepper spray’s a little intense, these two are just lucky Abby’s probably too young to remember the whole Lorena Bobbitt episode. However, as is all too common the case, the cupcake is the true victim of the break up. Poor thing’s probably going to be swallowed up by the foster system like so many little lost souls before it. If you would, say a little prayer for the cupcake’s well being tonight while you’re taking your pre-bedtime dump, won’t you?
Of course Abby couldn't have made this discovery before Penny’s departure, so now she’ll play some ketchup of her own and do the first leg of their itinerary solo. No idea why she couldn’t have just traveled ahead and met Nickel immediately, but then we wouldn’t have a movie. Why? Because Dime gets kidnapped. Not ready to cancel your plane tickets to Thailand yet? Well, the people who take her are dressed in those aforementioned clown masks. Calling the airline now to see if you can get a refund? I thought so. Besides, why travel when you can spend summer break crashed on your couch in your underthings (or, if you’re like myself, au natural) with the AC cranked to “Absolute Zero” as you eat can after can of overstuffed ravioli and play your favorite video games? I’m currently working through Saint’s Row IV right now. Did you know you can dress up your character in a MechaGodzilla costume?! It’s true taint-tingling terrificness!
Anyway, Abby isn’t aware of her sister-from-another-mister’s peril, so she simply does the tourist thing for a bit as intended. Her only communications from Quarter involve random pics without any accompanying messages to explain them, which our heroine chalks up to her still having rump rash about the whole “I’d rather spend summer break with the boyfriend that you’ve repeatedly informed me is a heaping piece of pooper pie than go to on a tropical dream vacation with my oldest, dearest friend” drama. Along her travels, she meets a pair of fellow out-of-towners in Ben (Keenan Henson) and Jewel (Caitlyn Cromwell/Stryker, the writer-director’s wife), who approach her under the most suspicious of methods when Ben steals her backpack. He returns it to her right after though, calking it up to a lesson that she should keep on her toes lest she be destitute (given that she’s already Pennyless *rimshot*) and giving bareback Around the Worlds to American businessmen by Tuesday.
A bit douchey, but in that “big brother tough love” sorta way, Abby accepts the advice as well as the offer to tag along with the couple. Their reason for being in Thailand is so Brad can traverse the whole of Southern Asia, shooting a wanna-be VICE style vid about the things backpackers experience while trekking through third world countries. I think. I don’t really know what his point is, because it all just looks like a tourism video to sell Thai travel packages to college kids back in the states. They also fraternize with a fellow outsider named Dale (writer-director Brad Stryker), an Aussie guy there for the nightlife, the pretty scenery, and to bang as many random prostitutes dressed in “sexy (career here)” Halloween costumes as his down under can afford. I’d advise him to make sure the females he’s bedding are actual females, given that it’s Thailand and all, but somehow Dale seems like the type of guy that wouldn’t really care either way once his Foster’s and Cialis cocktail kicked in.
And for anyone protesting that Foster’s isn’t what actual Australians drink, it’s okay. Stryker was born in fucking Oregon, so he’s about as not an actual Australian as a white person can get. His put-on accent (as in “put-on like Kris Kross’ pants – incorrectly”) will support me on that.
When Abby does finally get the confirmation video that Half-Dollar has been Taken-ed, the young lady’s clown cloaked absconders have two simple demands – (1) Do NOT tell anyone about the crime and (2) continue on with the plans to rock n’ roll all night and party every day. If Abs can ignore the anxiety of her best friend’s peril and embrace the drunken American party girl stereotype inside her that she came to Thailand to rediscover in the first place, then they’ll release their abductee and the girls can be reunited. That’s…weird. Have I been lied to my entire life and the point of kidnappings isn’t to demand ransoms, but rather force people to live the Miller High Life?! Because as much as I love some of the people in my life, I wouldn’t be willing to drink excessively of such bottled piss swill for the return of some of them.
Fortunately, it turns out that this isn’t so much the case. When Absinthe breaks the first rule of fight club and talks about fight club with B&J, Ben (last name “Dover”?) introduces her to the world of Southern Asia’s newest craze – staged abductions! Seems that there’s a whole subgenre of today’s Generation Meme culture dedicated to setting up false kidnappings for the sake of “reminding people how to have fun”, then posting the reaction videos online when the victim is told it was all for funsies. Just psychologically scarring, emotionally terrorizing, friendship shattering funsies. Fucking people and their fucking reaction videos. It was funny for about 5 minutes in the wake of the “2 Girls 1 Cup” epidemic, but I never wanna see another one of those stupid things again. Unless it involves the kind of reaction George Clooney had when he found Brad Pitt hiding in his closet. Now THAT’s a multi-million views moment!
(Today’s lesson: don’t come out of the closet to Worst Batman)
Additionally, what the frosted fucks does that ambiguous “reminding people how to have fun” description mean? In this case, “people” refers to adults and “have fun” refers to intoxicating ones self to the point of long term brain damage because your friends apparently only like you when you're making as asshole out of yourself in public, throwing up $60 in margaritas, and blacking out so you can put yourself at risk of being sexually assaulted by any horny festering pustule excuse for a human being that happens to be passing by. Given the length of that explanation, you can see the need for the “TL;DR” version provided.
And so we’re left with the mystery of whether this is a legitimate criminal situation by a Thai maniac clowning with their prey, or if it’s all just a really shitty scheme by Hay Penny to make Abby abandon the maturity of adulthood and “loosen up”. Which is just a dickhead way of Sixpence (who’s none the richer… *rimshot*) saying that she fundamentally intends to drag her friend down so she herself doesn’t need to be alone in her terror of growing up and assuming responsibilities that she’s not ready for. Could she have opted for a less vindictive, “Reverse Jigsaw” method? Maybe. But that would kill Stryker’s entire effort to make something he likely mistook as being “visionary”.
Not only does what could have been a decent little flick foil itself in the finish with a fumbled finale, but Stryker opted to be the seventy-thousandth indie movie director to think they’re the one who’s going to breathe unasked for life into the fetid, deflated lungs of the “found footage” movie, completely ignoring the Do Not Resuscitate notice the subgenre has hanging around its neck. And it’s not even some semi-reasonable bullshit like the Paranormal Activity security cam footage concept, it’s just yet another instance of the characters shooting their own videos of the proceedings, likely until they all die, never putting the camera down no matter how much immediate peril they’re put in. Once they’re dead, all of this “found footage” then gets spliced (I guess “merged” would be the modern digital version?) by some unknown editor who cobbles together a single project whose final cut just happens to be very movie-like, both in structure and length, and includes numerous clearly not found helicopter shots and professionally framed footage of the landscapes. Sounds like mister first-time feature couldn’t play it casual and stick with his own theme. I guess you can’t “make the environment a character” without pricey aerial establishing shots, eh?
Land of Smiles makes some attempt at explaining itself in the finish, but does about as well as a stoner trying to explain to their probation officer that their eyes are red because they “just have bad hay fever”. It even comes with a lazy, forced Shyamalanian pseudo-twist hanging off of its ass, metaphorically wrapping the whole thing up in a way that’s equivalent to actually wrapping a broken toaster with soiled newspapers, not unlike those I put around Bastet’s litter box so she won’t track her shit grit into my bed during one of her 2am “u up?” booty calls. I haven’t been this aggravated about such a fucking stupid, pointless, shoved-in-dry, “for the sake of getting one over on the audience” Chubby Checker conclusion since The Bone Collector (aka “That there Bone Crusher” to quote a private joke). It’s not even the whole ending, either! If you circumcised Styrker’s failed attempt at being cutesy with his end credits sequence, it would’ve been a perfectly fine ending to a mediocre thriller. As is, though, you may audibly boo it the same way I did. Try not to wake up your downstairs neighbor when you do so the same way I did, otherwise you too will have very awkward mailbox interactions for the next few days also…
All of that nonsense aside (if you can put the last minute alteration of the entirety of the movie’s story “aside”), Stryker’s other major effort goes into the “ugly behind the beauty” theme he seems to believe he himself created. In case the fact that you’re watching a HORROR movie titled Land of Smiles is too subtle for you, the guy includes numerous shots of beautiful locales populated by beautiful people having beautiful good times with beautiful beautiful party party yadda yadda blah blah inter-cut with moments of our protagonists freaking out (again and again and again) and vids of Penny maybe-or-maybe not being tortured. It’s juxtaposition overload! It’s the hallmark of a film school student who doesn’t respect their audience’s intelligence/awareness, so they spend too much time hitting us over the head with it to make sure we get the point. Though, as we all know, no one will ever truly get the deep introspective point of Mr. Stryker’s art because, well, he’s a creator while we the audience are simply refuse in his path to brilliance.
Except for those who leave 8+ star reviews on IMDB. Clearly they “get it”…
In case you require more evidence of my claim (like the police insisted on that time I accused my aforementioned downstairs neighbor of shitting on my doormat), observe the name of Stryker's self-production company as Exhibit D –
That’s not a ‘shop job, kids. He actually calls it “Stryke-Force Films”. A guy who wants us to take his very serious horror movie very seriously sticks a name like that onto the opening. For Francis Ford Fuckula’s sake, this is not a hoax, not a dream, not an imaginary tale. This is for real. He’s Tommy Wiseau without the charming Ed Wood-ian naivete. I can only hope that whichever family members he conned into putting up the money for this vacation-turned-movie are the “more money than brains” type, otherwise I fell sorry for them.
But, despite all of this fresh personal contempt I’ve discovered for one Bradley Stryker, Land of Smiles isn’t a terrible movie. It’s better-than-bad without quite reaching the lofty levels of “good” as established by Log (*from BLAMMO!™). It at least makes an effort to do something uncommon if not new (even going so far as name dropping The Game as the in-continuity inspiration for the fake kidnapping business), and the cast (excluding Stryker’s needlessly Australian Dale that is) does a well enough job conveying their fear to keep playing along while Ben urges the girls on. Whether his motivations are as altruistic for Penny as he claims them to be, or he just wants to finish his video project like the girls have growing suspicions of is never entirely clear, which works in the flick’s favor. Oh, and if you close your eyes, there are times you’d swear Keenan Henson’s lines were being delivered by a manic Vince Vaughn. It’s neither a pro nor a con, really, unless you’re Isla Fisher’s character from Wedding Crashers, in which case it’ll probably create a babbling brook down your thigh.
I have a titanium firm “no toilet sex” rule, but ever since that movie she gets an exclusive pass. Well, her and Barbara “Megan Halsey” Crampton, but she’s of an unlimited classification all her own. Don’t ask me the acts I would do for that woman, lest ye have a cast iron constitution or have long lost your soul to the dark horrors of the internet.
Oh, back on topic, as much as I hate The Blair Witch Project for its piss poor “let’s just say ‘fuck’ a lot because we can’t ad lib to save our thrice damned lives” improvised dialogue, it was at least more realistic than a lot of the supposedly “real footage” exchanges in Land of Smiles. Blame the actors for not being able to make it believable or blame Stryker for a clunky script, but either way it doesn’t help sell the lie that we’re meant to get lost in. In spite of my gripes about this, the crap ending, and a shooting style too schizo to settle on whether it’s trying to be a traditional movie or a vacation video, the movie is still oddly watchable! Weird, right?! I know! I’m as shocked to type it as you are to read it! So, yeah, there are way worse ways to wear out your eyeballs for an hour or two and if that’s enough of an endorsement for you to seek LoS out, have at it, friends.
Whether Brad (the director, not the cheating boyfriend…though Stryker could very well be the type who needs a woman to tell him he has a big dick to perform) can parlay his first feature into a career win in the long run or not, only time will tell. Whether the sparks of potential are enough to feed a flame of success, at least he can fall back on his extensive work as a bit part player in TV shows and direct-to-DVD movies. It may not make him a household name, but at least it pays the bills!… I presume.
My role as the grand marshal of this parade of fools continues next time (and four or so times again after that) with a movie that’s, well, less a movie than a digital version of a lost Hippolytus de Marsiliis torture method. While you look that name up, I’m gonna casually slip away via the escape hatch I had installed under my desk… CIAO!
“I never understood how these stupid horoscopes work. What does my having been born in the first week of November have to do with not being compatible with someone born in mid-June?! I call bullshit… So, what does mine say?
I understand that this guy’s probably doing the clown thing to work out some deeply depressing personal issues, but you may not want to do the “limp flower as a metaphor for my erectile dysfunction” bit around the ladies.
“Shit! That’s the fourth iPhone I’ve lost to the porcelain Sarlak pit this year! There goes the rest of my savings.”
Sarah and Elaine’s attempt to resurrect the “Girls Gone Wild” series with all of the drinking and partying minus the nudity and “lesbian stuff” proved grossly unsuccessful.
“Why do you need such a big backpack?”
“So I can sleep inside it at night while hanging it from a tree to avoid bears!”
“I keep telling ya, love, even if there were sharks this far inland, they wouldn’t come after ya! Just because you’re on your period doesn’t mean you’re ‘bikini chum’!”
“I don’t get it. I ask you what a ‘lemon party’ is and now you’re recording me watching a video? You’re so weird.”
“I hope you’re at least not being cheap and paid extra for a reach around, Greg.”
“Welcome to ‘Clowning Around’ with your host, Zippo VonLaughsalot. This week’s contestant is Janet, and she’ll be playing ‘What’s Crawling On My Leg?’ for her chance at a $25 Best Buy gift card!”
“I know it’s tradition to swallow the worm when drinking a bottle of Mezcal, but that thing last night… it had a face… a human face! I swear it looked at me and mouthed my name before… before… oh god, what have I done?!”
Oh jeez. I hooked up with her at last call a month ago and the bitch gave me crabs. Let’s just go before she… DON’T MAKE EYE CONTACT WITH HER! GAH! RUN!
It’s sad to know I will never be as happy as she is right now. Let’s not ruin it and tell her that every stray cat in the neighborhood makes that place their litter box.
Uh-oh! Looks like some tourists discovered their hotel’s hidden toilet cameras!
I’m not the most culturally educated man-jackal, but I can’t imagine it’s very sanitary of Thailand letting elephants just leave piles of number two in their human restrooms.
Laugh all you like, but lonely weirdos pay $200 a night just to watch her sleep on a webcam site!
“You know what I hate? Stupid assholes in goofy rubber clown masks that sneak up on people to try and scare them… Damn it, there’s one right behind me, isn’t there?”
“Wow! These Gushers fruit snacks really are bursting with fruit flavor!”
This is why I stopped going to the local beer garden during carnival season.
And this is why I started going to the local strip club during carnival season!
Anubis will return in
“The Inbred Clown Posse”
Featuring: Georgia “Vampire Biker Babes” Chris , Joe “Experiment 7” Davison , Jack “Experiment 7” Amos
Director: Marcus “Rot” Koch
Writer: Joe “Experiment 7” Davison
You know what I hate? Ironing. You know what else I hate? Irony. Not all irony, just the kind that inconveniences me personally. Like when I’m taking bottles back to the store and their machine, which accepts brands sold exclusively by other stores, will NOT accept drink bottles of their own fucking in-house brands! Slanderman’s Amerika just started and already shit’s going to Hel in a knock-off Louis Vuitton. SAD.
I wish I could indulge in the blissful levels of cognitive dissonance that Cheeto Chiang Kai-shek’s supporters must live in to not only vote the fuck face into office, but continue to sing his praises after the litany of idiocy he continues to vomit from his ass day in and day out. Oh well, ignorance is bliss so I’ll forever be a pessimist. And pissed. And impossible to resist. But not a pacifist. Nor a partaker of the Eucharist. I prefer my flesh and blood consumption to be legitimate and not just some weak cheese metaphor for sipping wine and eating salt-free crackers. Speaking of flesh and blood, let’s review 100 Tears!
The heroes of our picture are Mark Webb (Joe Davidson) and Jen Stevenson (Georgia Chris). The duo are co-writers of made-up articles (you know, ones about “alternative facts”) for a grocery store checkout line tabloid rag called The Midnight Star. This may or may not be a reference to the newspaper Weird Al sang about in the track of the same name, but either way I’d like to clutch my heightened nerd awareness and continue with that line of thinking. It’s assuredly not to be confused with the band Midnight Star, who taught us all the dangers of parking on the dance floor. Thank you for your service, gentlemen. We salute you.
Unable to decide between the raising of the Titanic or the further adventures of Reptile Boy, the pair put their paying job on the back burner for a few days and turn their focus instead on trying to be real reporters by cracking the case of the infamous Teardrop Killer. According to the info provided to her by Jen’s sister in the FBI, Teardrop has iced in excess of 160 people up and down the East Coast over the course of the last 2 decades. Their only info about the monster? He leaves a bloody teardrop smeared at the scenes, hence the name… and that’s all they know?! A maniac violently dismembers people in the triple digits for TWENTY YEARS and all the fucking FBI have come up with is a sugar-free gum equivalent codename for him?! Herbert Hoover must be rolling in his muumuu and high heels!
As “only in the movies” luck would have it, that very night said slayer takes it upon himself to maul, maim and dismember an entire halfway house of fresh victims! What do we know that the FBI doesn’t? The killer is a big & tall guy dressed like a clown who wields a giant meat cleaver that he may have stumbled across in an abandoned slaughterhouse while looking for a place to get in out of the rain and slip in a quick gherkin jerkin’. After the facial devastation of an unfortunate gent in the basement, this Walter Paisley art expedition’s second project is a presumed ex-military dude (unless his dog tags are from Hot Topic and have pictures of Shrek on them) whose best haymakers don’t even faze the grease-painted assailant! Maybe G.I. Joey here got a dishonorable discharge because he throws punches like a Keebler elf? Gung-Ho he’s not.
(Bet you didn’t know the US Military subliminally advertised to gay children in the ’80s.)
The evisceration of a half-dozen people not withstanding, I have some quick thoughts about this killing spree. First, human anatomy. Did you know that you can kill a man instantly by jamming a meat clever into his taint? One whack and two seconds later you’ve got yourself a fresh carcass. It’s true! Speaking of truth, despite being told since childhood that seppuku resulted in literal hours of agony before the participant would finally give up the ghost (I had a good childhood), it turns out that was a lie. As one young female victim shows us, slicing someone’s stomach open also warrants an immediate need for a body bag. All the death without the wait! Additionally, despite what movies like American History X would lead us to believe, the human skull is not nearly as strong as you might think. As our killer clown demonstrates for us, a single stomp from a man’s foot (at least one encased in a comically oversized novelty shoe) causes an adult woman’s head to burst like a balloon full of crimson Karo syrup. No brains, no skull fragments, just a splatter of red goo. Slim Goodbody lied to us all! No wonder he always hid his head under that afro!
As for the halfway house itself, the kitchen seemingly double as a laundry room given the washing machines and coin-op detergent vendor stuffed in the corner. I can’t imagine that’s up to snuff per local health codes, given the risk of cross contamination between the food and shit like laundry soap and whatever microbial eldritch horrors might be living in the occupants’ bedsheets, towels and *dry heave* their skivvies… BLART! Additionally, what kind of halfway house has a big sign on its front door broadcasting that there’s an ATM on the premises? Aren’t those usually saved for corner shops and liquor stores? Unless of course it’s advertising the presence of a prostitute on the premises who offers ass-to-mouth. Yeah, that’s probably it.
Come morning, after Jen wakes up atop Mark (in their shared futon, because they’re also roommates and I guess they don’t have their own bedrooms?) and they have more wacky “fat guy and hot girl” sexual tension (including her offering to fuck him in the shower if he can do 100 sit-ups, followed by his farting in her face as he stands over her) before a hot tip about last night’s bloodbath prompts them to rush to the scene of the crime. They bribe a detective associate of theirs (Rod Grant) to let them take pics of the slaughter before the clean up crews come in to scrub the gore. Finding a terrified girl in hiding, our heroes rightly chastise the cops for not finding her themselves during their own sweep of the premises and learn from the lass that the killer in question was dressed like a clown. So, having been on the case of the Teardrop Killer for all of 15 hours, the pair have already learned more about the mofo than the FBI has in twenty years? Crow T. Robot.
J & M also learn from the attending pig that two other residents of the house are unaccounted for, prompting us to an as-yet-undetermined locale where Bloodthirsty Bozo is revealed to have nabbed the missing couple and taken them home to finish off like human doggy bags. But why? You’ve gotta imagine it’d be more effort than it’s worth to drag two live people across town just so you can kill them there shortly after. Why give yourself additional work to do disposing of them on top of getting them there rather than just adding them to the rest of the mutilated bodycount at the scene of the crime?! How has this putz successfully evaded the feds for this fucking long doing dipshit stuff like this?!
Following up on the clown gimmick, our intrepid off-brand Lois Lane and Jimmy Olson seek a lead at a nearby carnival, interviewing a foul-mouthed old bartender (whose shouting voice sounds oddly like Super Dave Osborne) named Ed (Jerry Allen) and a bite-size circus barker porn mag enthusiast named Draga (Norberto Santiago). Though both peg the pair as cops at first, once our protags ID themselves as tabloid writers hunting a lead the carnies are more than happy to accommodate. Right around here is when we focus our attention elsewhere in the neighborhood and are introduced to Christine (Raine Brown) – a thrift store Harley Quinn who professes an affinity for clowns and a violent dislike for those pesky “normies”, which is a term that Norm Petersen fanboys call themselves. Didn’t know such people existed? Sure they do! They converge for their own convention in Boston once a year, where they cosplay as the iconic alcoholic and occupy the stools of the local drinking establishments for a weekend long bar crawl, nursing beers and shouting “NORM!” every time one of them comes through the front door. No, seriously! Google it!
Oh, and since George Wendt almost never comes up in casual conversation, I’d like to take this chance to tell everyone that he played Dean Halsey in a production of Re-Animator: the Musical that The Evil Dead Bride and I attended some years ago when we still lived in the teeming, heaving mass of bodies and filth you call New York City. He was…okay. True story!
Christine will have a more important role in our tale later on, but for her first few scenes we just kinda watch her get dressed up, go to a bar, pick up some random perm-haired nerd who she convinces to go down on her in an alley (not even with an immunity to STDs and all of my taste buds burned off would I do such a thing to someone I’d just met in a bar) before slitting the chump’s throat and leaving him for a wino to stumble upon later while, she goes home to carve emo etchings on her abdomen for further jollies. Despite this portrayal, keep in mind that the majority of self-cutters aren’t interested in hurting others, just themselves. So if you should see someone with scars on their arms/legs/whatever, fear for them more so than for yourself. Anyway, yeah, now our movie has two killers. When they inevitably meet in the second or third act, do you think they’ll have a team-up or a face-off? Before we answer that…
While Mr. Webb and Miss Stevenson follow up on some other potential leads, Drags is confronted by the obese mirth murderer who threatens short legs’ tiny life until he trades Clowny his continued existence for a piece of paper containing the address of a woman named Tracy. When our would-be Woodward and Bernstein come back to check on half-pint, he spills the garbanzos on all the circustral shenanigans and gore-soaked goings-on. Roll that beautiful bean footage!
The clown’s name is Gurdy (not a great clown name…too close to “Turdy”) and he used to work with Draga at the same circus 20 or so years ago. At the time, two teenage girls named Roxie and Tracy ran away from home and joined said three ring mobile home as carnie groupies. Some ladies just love tiny hands and the overwhelming stench of month old boiled cabbage. I don’t get it either, but every relationship I’m in has to be inter-species, so I don’t judge what gets the blood flowing to your genitalia. Anyway, Roxie shacked up with sideshow strongman Ralphio, while Tracy indulged her fetish for balloon sex toys by sharing sheets with the Gurdler. Turned out that Roxie, despite getting the less nightmare inducing of the potential suitors, was still a cockblocking cunt that didn’t want Tracy being happy too. So, while Trace was getting her womb seltzered, Rox told ‘Phio that Gurds was actually raping her. You know what’s the only thing that makes the idea of being sexed by a clown worse? Being sexed by a clown against your will. The sound of his horn honking as it’s repeatedly mashed between your bodies…
Uggh, I just threw up. Not a little either. It looks like someone just dumped a gallon of Dollar Embargo vegetable soup and a sleeve of mashed up Saltines on my couch. Who wants to take bets on how long I can keep typing through the smell?
A social justice warrior for his time (not a bad thing, despite what tiny penised douche boys would tell you), Ralph didn’t take Roxie’s declaration well and laid a wall-to-wall walloping on Gurdy, stomping his ass like it was flaming bag of dogshit. And just like stomping said immolated brown paper IED, the strongman instantly regrets his actions, because Big Top Shakes responded by strangling Rox and jamming a tent stake through the back of big boy’s brain case. Citing the landmark case of Eye v. Eye, the rest of the circus folk “dealt with Gurdy for good” in a way whose specifics are never explained. Unless Gurds is a literal ghoul (which might explain why he doesn’t talk), I’m presuming “dealing with him” didn’t include killing him, as you might expect. Whatever the case, the painted madman has been cutting throats and gutting folks, following his old place of employment up and down the East Coast ever since. Draga says you could always “feel his presence” at the circus despite having never seen Gurdy in person since the incident. So, now big murderous old Gurdy has finally found Tracy, who he’s been searching for all this time…while slaughtering people for…no…real…reason.
I know it wasn’t easy to find caulrophiles back in the ’80s, but if someone had just shown Gurdy OkCupid or Craigslist or JuggaLove, he could’ve given up his desperate quest to find Tracy and a whole lot of nameless extras would still be alive today.
Speaking of dead extras, while all this has been playing out, Gurdles has been adding a whole lotta notches to the handle of his giant guillotine blade with a handle. His current crash pad is the basement of a local warehouse, and when the place’s realtor stops by with a pair of potential tenants, all three are turned into stew meat for a cannibal potluck. Not exactly smart given that the realtor’s secretary knows where the guy was when last he spoke to her, so when neither he nor the two other guys he took with him return, that’s an easy call to the police to send someone by to check the property out. She doesn’t and they don’t though, but a rent-a-cop instead finds the bloody remnants of the guy in his SUV later that night, which Gurdy just LEFT OUT IN FRONT OF THE WAREHOUSE. Again, HOW THE FUCK DID THIS GUY LEAVE THE FBI CHASING ITS OWN FUCKING TAIL FOR TWENTY YEARS?!
Gurdy’s decades long search for his lost love is all for naught though, as he finds her on the floor of her home with her throat slit! Who could’ve done such a thing? Yep, you guessed it, Christine is Tracy’s daughter and she just killed dear old mom. Rather than hanging the girl by her own intestinal tract for killing the woman he’s spent half a lifetime hunting, Gurd kidnaps Chris (seems she’s only good at killing people who don’t expect it), takes her back to his wretched basement apartment and reveals to her what we’ve all been expecting this whole time – she’s his daughter. Contrived as it is, it’s much better than the other possible outcome, which would’ve been Christine being his new groupie. Not only would that have likely resulted in an ipecac of a sex scene, but it also would’ve made zero fucking sense that a random civilian thrill killer would have known about Gurdy and been able to track him down when, again, the FBI (Fucking Bunch of Idiots) are all too busy giving themselves first-person colonoscopies.
Despite the initial horror of a big psycho clown materializing in her home mere moments after giving her own mom a botched second-chinectomy, Christine seems pretty nonplussed by her poppa’s sudden appearance. She also doesn’t seem all that confused as to why he’s a mute, nor does she question the validity of his claim, and instead just accepts the whole thing as legit. The pair have an instantaneous connection and waste no time getting to the daddy-daughter bonding stuff either, when a gaggle of convenient twenty-somethings out to rave the night away pick the absolute wrong seemingly abandoned warehouse to pass their tress…tress their pass? Whatever, Officer Leroy! (Sifl & Olly joke, so don’t feel bad if that one lost ya) Brandishing the massive slice n’ dicer and a sledgehammer between them, Gurds and Whey make quick work of the kids in their typical gory fashion. Naturally the prey are all too terrified to stop and realize they outnumber their attackers 5-to-1, or that Tweedledaughter shouldn’t be too hard to disarm while awkwardly wielding that big clumsy hammer around, but this world is generally populated by the kind of morons that always come to mind when you ponder just how the “so-and-so wouldn’t know the difference between their asshole and a hole in the ground” witticism gained so much traction.
In our flick’s big finale, Matt & Jen are clued in to the locale of our killers by FBI sister (based on the guard’s SUV discovery the night before) so they head out to investigate before the place is taken over by feds. On the way, they call in their local police squad pals (one of which just wants to bone Jen, not that I blame him) so they won’t be without some form of backup. Rather than wait for the 2 guys with the guns to show up (and it is just the two, since neither apparently thought it a good idea to call in the rest of the pig parade precinct to take down a SERIAL KILLER RESPONSIBLE FOR 200 OR SO MURDERS), our intrepid investigators search the basement of sins (that appears to be lit by some battery powered stick-up lights and a blacklight from Spencer’s Gifts) and end up face-to-painted face with Gurdy. A struggle ensues and Matt shows us that he’s never fired a gun in his life, shooting off a few rounds without so much as a scratch. All the sadder because Gurdy’s of sizable carriage. Have I mentioned that? That he’s fat? I did? How about old? Did I mention that he’s also old? I did. Okay. Just making sure.
Discount bin Crockett and Tubbs show up soon after, but in the interest of expediting these final 15 minutes, let’s leave it at this – the daddy-daughter duo are too much for the quartet. Despite the movie’s earlier exchange of the ex-military dude punching Evil Binky repeatedly in the face to no effect, Mike socks the lummox once in the mouth and fatty’s left reeling like friggin’ Glass Joe. His Tyson-like punches (less the boxer and more the frozen chicken products) notwithstanding, the illegitimate son of Louis C.K. ultimately takes a bullet in the mouth and sheds his mortal coil. The white cop gets his throat slit by Christine (who pretends to be poppa’s prisoner), the black cop (Kibwe Dorsey) gets his head lopped off by the novelty sized butchering implement, and Jen gets slashed up by Chris’ razor blade, has her spine tenderized twice via sledgehammer and finally has her face smashed into the floor multiple times before being left for dead…which she clearly isn’t, as her eyes are wide open and she’s still breathing and writhing around. Rookie mistake on daddy’s little monster’s part. Speaking of, Chris shoots her father in the head (cuz bitches be cray-cray, y’all!) before leaving the scene of the crime. She ends the flick Bill Bixbying down an empty backroad before bursting into 100 Tears‘ final splatter of hemoglobin when she’s street pizza-ed by…Jen. Do Greek women have adamantium skeletons by nature? I mean, even if she didn’t endure multiple concussions from having her face repeatedly bounced off of concrete, I’m pretty sure those SLEDGEHAMMER SHOTS DIRECTLY TO HER SPINE should’ve turned her into b-horror Ironside!
But, you know, movies. What are ya gonna do?
And that’s our movie. It’s truly an HG Lewis flick for the modern age (besides 2001 Maniacs, Blood Feast 2 and so forth). Not because it’s in any way revolutionary or controversial, just because its only real selling point is its graphic violence! It’s a gore whore’s goregasmic delight to behold. The red stuff and chunky inner bits are so prevalent that the movie was given an NC-17 rating for “extreme horror violence”. A badge of honor I’m sure those behind it are proud to display! As they should be. Said splatter showcase is one of the finest (if absurdest) bloodbaths to hit my screen since the last time I watched Evil Dead 2, which any fan of cinematic viscera will recognize as high praise. Give me practical effects for the win, Peter Marshall!
In contrast, 100 Tears‘ story is the whitest of white breads in terms of slasher fare. Think Wonder Bread dipped in a jar of Miracle Whip and fed to an albino polar bear. Whiter than the sheets the republican party wear on their weekend “retreats”. A man and a woman track down a serial killer with a gimmick? Meh. His gimmick is that he’s a clown? And he’s hunting down a figure from his past? Meh again. His murder weapon of choice is a massive meat cleaver? Okay, it’s not just another machete or power tool, so that’s fine. Sadly, making matters worse, this shoestring plot’s got more holes in it than the dozens of apple pies in Jason Biggs’ linen closet. When you’re telling us that the FBI have near-zero info on a serial killer responsible for the deaths of more than 160 people over a twenty year stretch, all of which just happened to be done along the coastal route of the same traveling circus every year over that period, it’s mentally comparable to getting a fucking sliver! It just sits there, stinging and infuriating me more and more as I gnaw at it unsuccessfully in impotent frustration.
Don’t read anything more into that last part, either! Those pills I ordered from Canada are for my liver and nothing else!
On top of that, we only ever get to see Gurdles either in full clown regalia or in the final stages of applying his makeup. Given as such, he must spend time without the greasepaint on if he has to paint himself up again. He has to have more duds in his wardrobe than just his work clothes too, otherwise that shit would’ve been reduced to tatters, cuffs and a collar after twenty years of constant usage! One would have to presume that Gurdy has a secret identity, right? A persona under which you would image he does odd jobs or something to contribute to his basic nutritional needs and travel budget? Or has he just been dumpster diving half-eaten corn dogs from the carnival’s midway trash cans, hence his constant “presence” since his disappearance that Draga refers to? And mayhaps he was just really good at hiding amid the trucks and trailers so no one ever caught him hitching a ride every time they pulled up stakes and moved on? If the devil is in the details, I certainly wouldn’t recommend this flick to any Satan worshipers…
Of which Satanists are not included, so stop being so egocentric with your ignorance to the workings of religions that aren’t your own.
The cast is every bit as amateurish as you’d expect from a homemade horror movie, with writer-star Joe Davison playing comedy relief and giving himself the best lines of the script. At least he delivers them better than I imagine most writers probably would. Georgia Chris and Raine Browne were okay. If nothing else, Raine wasn’t nearly as bad in her pseudo-Harley Quinn role as Margot Robbie was in her actual Harley Quinn role, so…there’s that. I guess. Santiago, sadly enough, seems to have been cast simply for his stature rather than his acting talent. The guy staggers over his lines as if he were a first timer, of which I’m relatively assured he was. If you told me he had even a week of acting classes, or Hel, even some high school drama club experience, I’d probably slap your mother for raising such a foul liar.
As for Amos’ portrayal of Gurdy? For starters, he didn’t have a single line to utter, so he’s off the hook there. His physical stuff was good though. His imposing size and massive cleaver did a lot of the work for him, but his use of the classic movie-killer head tilt was well done. On the downside, the way he’d fling Ol’ Chopper (my name for his cleaver) over his shoulder with a heavy cockiness to his mannerisms and a sneer on his lips just came off as silly bullshit. I’d ask for some leeway when it comes to the cast though, as I’m guessing that a number of these scenes were made under the Roger Corman “one and done” method, because if there were multiple takes and these were the best performances they opted to keep, that’s going to keep me up at night.
So goes today’s feature, 100 Tears. Come for the gory clown violence, stay for…more gory clown violence. If fake blood drenching the screen ain’t your thing, don’t bother tracking this one down, as that’s about all it has to offer. Can’t say a lot for Koch’s directing (especially the lack of fucking lighting in the last 15 minutes), but his special effects are worthy of a girthy upward pointing thumb! Good to see that’s where he’s spent most of his 20 year career.
Before we go, I’ve got one final bone to pick. During Draga’s first scene, things get jarringly goofy when Matt and Jen resort to chasing him on foot through a lightly wooded area. Fat guy awkwardly running after a midget? You betcha.
“Get in mah belly!”
It’s not the chase itself from which said bone protrudes however, but rather the accompanying music that gave me cause to pause. Why? Because it steals the opening to Gogol Bordello’s “I Would Never Wanna Be Young Again”, the 2nd track off of their 2005 album Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike! I only say “stolen” because there’s no credit accredited said band anywhere in the credits. In other words, well, it’s stolen. So here I am, making sure the lads from the Lower East Side get as much recognition for their work as, well, posting it here will give them.
You don’t wanna know where that finger’s been. Clowns are disgusting creatures by nature.
“You’re putting too much effort into the jokes actually being funny. We’re writing a sitcom about a fat guy (me) married to an attractive wife (you). Whether it’s funny or not, there’s no way one of the major networks won’t give us a 2 season deal!”
She thinks she’s on hold with the Suicide Prevention Hotline, but it’s actually one of those morning radio show prank calls.
“Heh heh. Just look at that bisection job! Damn, I’m good. Look out world, Gurdy’s coming for ya!”
If “The Truck Stop Massacre” isn’t already in production at Troma, I’ll be disappointed.
Portrait of a man who will never have sex with his hot female friend. Been there, done that, walked out of the sequel.
“Of course I’m a detective! Just look at my long coat, my taint-length tie and my dress shirt tucked into my high-waisted pants!”
Ladies, no matter how sexy it makes you feel, this is why you never go out in a skirt or dress without underwear. You never know when Aunt Flo is gonna make an unwanted visit.
“Alright, baby. Now I’m gonna show you how a real man… FUCK! YOU TOLD ME YOU’D ALREADY HAD THE SURGERY! GROSS!”
I hear they sold their original SCAT ride to a wealthy German Count.
I see somebody turned my worst Porta John experience into a logo. How fun.
“Sure, the internet may be filled with every kind of porn you can imagine, but you just can’t beat the feeling of a crinkled magazine between your fingers during ‘foreplay’. I guess I’m just a romantic!”
He’s the writer, the male lead AND he does his own stunts! Watch out Hollywood, because Joe Davison is a genuine triple threat!
“21 across – ’45th president of the United States’; 5 letters; begins with ‘P’. Any idea?”
And this, children, is why you never eat an entire package of Gushers fruit snacks at once.
“Try not to blow any of your lines on this take. We need to finish shooting this scene before the Olive Garden employees realize what we’re doing in here.”
On the drive home following Burning Man, Lisa realized that she had a lot of life choices to make that she just couldn’t put off anymore. She’d probably never be able to forget the things she saw that fateful weekend, but she preyed that somehow, somewhere down the line, she would one day be freed of those demons and learn to be human again.
Anubis will return next time in
“The Murderous Misadventures of the Crisco Kid”
Featuring: John “Napoleon Dynamite” Heder , Krysten “‘Jessica Jones’” Ritter , Josh “Frozen” Gad
Director: Tim “Correcting Christmas” O’Donell
Writers: John “Zombie Nightmare” Fasano
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!
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.
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)
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!”
Anubis will return next time in
“Pogo’s Big Adventure”
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
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
three four 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!
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
Featuring: Natasha “‘Orange Is the New Black’” Lyonne , Chloë “American Psycho” Sevigny , Meg “Psycho II” Tilly
Director & Writer: Danny “Oddsac” Perez
Origin: Canada | USA
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. Unlike The 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.
“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
Featuring: Johnny “’Palisades Justice‘” Diaz , Christina “The Treehouse” Licciardi , Nick “Laid to Rest” Principe
Director & Writer: Jeremy “Avengers Grimm” Inman
Sequel to: Avengers Grimm
The summer trudge through the bodily secretion trail of tears has still not let up, but I’ll spare you the trial of enduring a third diatribe where I bitch about the heat. I will say this though – you could bottle my underarm perspiration and weaponize it as an environmentally friendly alternative to mustard gas. That, or sell it as a Designer Impostors for Burger King onion rings. Speaking of heat, I’m convinced that my microwave is haunted by popcorn hating ghosts. Whether it’s Colonel’s Kernels, The Buck-an-Ear Buccaneer, or Maze of Maize, every time I try to nuke a bag of black lung inducing goodness the damn things come out scorched worse than Freddy Krueger at a Pyromaniacs For Snuffing Out Child Abuse fundraiser! Speaking of things that hate other things, I clearly hate myself more than Michael Bay hates ’80s pop culture, because here I am once again (by choice!) back within the padded walls of The Asylum. Those dickardly dingleberries who frequently infect the world with the worst knockbusters (knock-offs of blockbusters) this side of E.T. Eddie Torres the Extra-Testicle.
I could just be like everybody and their second cousin reviewing the first season of “Stranger Things” right now (It’s great, but I’m still disappointed that my theory on the Demogorgon becoming Slenderman at the end was wrong), but here I am bitching about The Asylum again like it’s the fucking running joke of my amateur movie griping career. Fuck it. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger… or just saddles us with PTSD until we drive all of our friends away and eventually David Carradine ourselves in the closet of a La Quinta Inn suite. I’ll never forgive you La Quinta motherfuckers for turning my old site address into a redirect for your homepage! May you all die of fatal rectal trauma via forced bowling ball insertion.
Not to be confused with Monster Squad, SuperHero Squad, Gangster Squad, “Mod Squad”, “Odd Squad”, “God Squad”, the other God Squad (there’s an obscure one for you Marvel readers!), Squadron Sinister, nor a group of willennials who get together every Saturday night to live-tweet viewings of the Sinister movies and do so under the hashtag “SinisterSquad”, what today’s movie is is The Asylum’s answer to the summer super-villain team-up blockbuster release, Suicide Squad. The Asy’ crew screws the Poochie on this one, and rather than combining a patchwork posse of the pantheon of half-assed knock-off villains they’ve populated their stupid little cinematic universe with, go for the easy way out and just toss together a group of public property fairytale fuckers instead. If Suicide Squad and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen pulled a bareback train on a Wiki of fairy tales and fables, this would be the bastard end product. Well, it works for “Grimm”, “Once Upon a Time” and “Sleepy Hollow” on TV, and it worked for 150 issues of DC’s “Fables” series (plus all of the spin-off stuff I’m sure as shit NOT counting out for the sake of completion in a review that nobody’s going to read anyway!), so why not?
‘Less Than Zero’ isn’t just a Bret Easton Ellis book I couldn’t bring myself to read more than the first 30 pages of, it’s also the amount of introductory exposition we’re given before being dropped face first into the fray that is our feature. Fortunately, this isn’t just a lazy round of Figure It Out for Yourself™ (by Parker Brothers!) and we’re filled in on the backstory as the frontstory progresses, but for the sake of simplicity I’ll give you a spoiler-free(ish) chimpan-A to chimpan-Z adaptation. RE-RE-RE-REMIIIIIIIX!
It all began in the magical dimension from which all fairy tales and fables originated. Call it Neverland, call it Grimm World, call it Dimension F (for “Fables”), call it whatever puts plums in your Christmas pie, Horner. Known by his peers as one of those guys who can get anything for the right price, infamous imp Rumpelstiltskin was hired by Death (yes, that Death) to acquire “the magic mirror” (presumably the one belonging to Snow White’s murderously jealous stepmom, Queen Grimhilde), which would allow the Reaper the ability to instant transmission his bony backside from The Underworld (a third realm all its own) to Earth and fulfill his despotic ambition to overtake our dimension. Death is sold to us as a Faustian figure (with Kung-Fu GRIP!), offering up earthly delights to his marks in exchange for their immortal souls being added to the Underworld census, so we can make an “ass” out of “u” and “me” that his realm is basically Hell… though we’re never given a Heaven-like counter-dimension to provide context, so I guess Underworld is where everybody goes when they die, whatever their moral alignment… so why would Death need to barter for souls if everybody winds up there sooner or later anyway?! Come on, Inman. You couldn’t take 5 minutes to slip in a reference to some manner of Nirvana to make more sense of this? Blart.
For no real reason beyond being a major asshole (like, “prolapsed colon” major), Rumpledforeskin broke the arcane artifact so Death couldn’t have it, shattering the barrier between their world and ours in the process. Now an undetermined population of these imaginary heroes and villains and ancillary personas exist in the world that gave us atomic weapons, Johnny Mnemonic, and The Baconator Triple. Turns out Rumpels is the type of guy who will huff or drink anything if there’s the possibility of it getting him a buzz, because that’s the only reason I can come up with for why he would’ve discovered that consuming ground up pieces of the mirror gives him the ability to control others with his voice… I guess if you’re gonna build a bad guy around Jared Leto’s “trailer park meth head Joker”, he’s gotta snort/smoke/shoot up something weird, right? Sure. Rumpy’s doing the half-baked Joker thing, but even if he had the chops to be the tops, the cartoon sound effects that accompany him are obnoxious. To be honest, I’m biased, as there will only ever be one true Rumpy for this jackal god. And as much as I man crush for Robert Carlyle, he’s not it…
On the topic of people who have experience with transdimensional reflective surfaces, Wonderland's Alice (last name withheld unless you consider Tim Burton's version canon, in which case it's Kingsleigh) also ended up on Earth, and has cobbled together a small organization of fellow refugees under the intention of wrangling up trouble makers and shipping them back home before they fuck anything else up. On her payroll are Goldilocks (that home invading hussy), Piper (the vermin charming, mass abductor of children), Hatter (a harmless weirdo celebrating eternal tea time), and the Tweedle twins Dum and
Dummer Dee (goodhearted scaredy ‘tards). In this version, Goldie is a bad-ass bombshell with twin handguns (and pigtails so she’ll resemble cinematic Harley Quinn), Piper is “generic good looking, wise-cracking hero guy”, Hatter is a psychotropic dropping rave DJ, and the Tweedles are half-wits dressed in some type of off-brand steampunk Super Mario Bros outfits (battery operated mustaches not included). Not exactly the Avengers, it’s no wonder our knock-off Nick Fury turns knock-off Amanda Waller, deciding it would be a good idea to bolster her skeleton crew of do-gooders with a supplemental add-on of ne’er-do-wells.
Rumpy’s captured and enlisted under the threat of an exploding wristwatch Alice binds him with. That and he can only outsmart Death so long, so he’s better off making some allies. In turn, he’s tasked with convincing his ex-girlfriend Gelda (Wonderland’s Queen of Hearts, now a sexy black lady decked out like a speakeasy flapper girl) to also join the gang, and her job is to use her apparent power of man control to pacify the murderous Bluebeard (who likes feeding women to his magical knives) into helping out too. The Big Bad Wolf is also there, playing the “monster with a heart of gold” role, going along because he’s got a gnarly knot over Goldie. Yeah, he’s basically just Marv from Sin City with bad dental work, right down to the same-name romantic interest. If they weren’t just ripping off Bigbie from “Fable”, I’d say they should’ve made this character the Beast, as in “Beauty and the”. There isn’t enough money in the effects budget to go full beast mode when it comes time for his inevitable lupine fiasco, so just call him a man-beast and leave it, Butt Fuchs.
Last on Alice's enlistment checklist is Carabosse, a savage, cannibalistic witch. Now, this one I had to do a little research on. Who I first thought was meant to be the child-eating witch with the gingerbread house who was burned alive by a little German kid, instead turns out to be the pissed off fairy-godmother from a 1600s “Sleeping Beauty” knock-off called “The Princess Mayblossom”! Very cheeky of you, Mr. Inman, putting a knock-off character into your knock-off movie! I appreciate the wink wink AND you forced me to learn something new today. Bravo, sir.
However, Carrie turns out to be a really bad draft pick on Alice's part when it's revealed that the razor-toothed wicked witch has a waterslide between her thighs when it comes to the only guarantee in life that doesn't include filling out forms and paying protection money to the government. Yep, more than a mere admirer, the sorceress is a straight up acolyte for The Pale Rider and probably bones herself with a femur while watching Faces of Death before bed. The best part about Witchy-Poo’s infatuation? Every time she wants a word with her would-be squeeze, she kills one of his messengers so he’ll inhabit their body. This diminishing of the Dead One’s numbers doesn’t piss him off so much as it just really irritates him.
It comes as no surprise that Carabosse’s loyalty to the antagonist escalates the plot past the “gather the group” stage, as Grim’s goons (dressed in generic “urban ninja militants” motif) infiltrate Alice’s base, where we spend the rest of the flick watching the good guys and good-bad guys try to figure out the Reaper’s endgame and put a stop to it before he kills them all and takes over Earth. As with any quorum of villains and monsters though, the real enemy is themselves, so it’s not a question of WILL everything go to shit, but how long will it take. Betrayal is inevitable. Such is life.
Being saddled with the typical bargain basement budget of an Asylum showing, it’s no “Shocker” (a movie I love, by the way) that the entirety of Squad takes place in and around an abandoned factory/warehouse/hobo hotel. At least it’s better than crap like Rise of the Zombies, where we’re shown a shot of a famous landmark (like the Golden Gate Bridge) and are hoodwinked with sound stage green screen sewage that makes The Room‘s rooftop scenes look like Hollywood magic. Also lacking any surprise factor for our flick is the previously expounded upon uniformity of Death’s goons’ attire. The fact that their faces are covered with hoods and face scarves makes it really easy for the same 5 or 6 extras to be killed without having to cut any additional checks. Hell, I’d bet dollars to dental appliances (of which this movie has several) that some members of the main cast earned an extra $20 and/or free sandwich coupon for Subway by pulling double duty. Speaking of, let’s discuss who earned their five dollar footlong, and who should go back to Tinsel Town Terry’s Back Alley Acting Academy.
Christina Licciardi was probably my favorite on this one. She plays Alice with just enough strength mixed with panic mixed with insecurity mixed with determination to make the whole thing work. Alice does what she has to to get the job done, and shows she’s not averse to getting some red on her . Her time on the other side of the looking glass has brought her a long way from where she was when she first fell down that rabbit hole, but hasn’t lost herself completely, and Licciardi pulls that off. A surprisingly good get for an Asylum picture, and I commend whomever cast her. Here’s to hoping she doesn’t get swallowed up by the obscurity beast and spend the rest of her career in Monstro’s guts, roasting kelp with an old man and his creepy wooden sex homunculus.
Don’t gimme that “He was just a little wooden boy you disgusting pervert!” crap either. His fucking dick-shaped nose grew like a telescoping sex toy, so blame the Blue Fairy if you’re gonna get so offended about your beloved childhood figures being reduced to innuendos. Or just get out your Ouija and blame Corey Allen’s ghost.
Johnny Rey Diaz isn't horrible as Rumpy, but his dollar store rendition of Jared Leto’s juggalo Joker is less over-the-top fun and more off-of-a-cliff irritating, in that that’s where you want to push him when he spends too much time over-revving his annoyance engine directly in your face. This could be less Diaz’s fault and more Inman’s, a la Chris Nolan being to blame for Christian Bale’s “choked on a rock salt dildo” Batman voice, so I won’t point fingers. I will point a thumb though, straight up, as JRD’s act grew on me when he turned down the kooky capering and it came time to take the trickster into more serious territory. Rump Roast was downright enjoyable by the end! And I’m a bitter old man who openly wishes death upon children at the mall!
In the interest of time, let’s make the rest of these quick. Lindsay Sawyer plays tough girl Goldilocks well enough without degenerating into a one-dimensional “bad-ass grrrl power!” caricature, and she looks great while doing it. Talia Davis (Gelda) is good as the selfish, spoiled Queen of Hearts, and doesn’t go Hawn & Russell (little Overboard joke for ya) with it. The flapper girl look works wonder(land)s for her too and turns me into a fapper boy. In the words of Inspector Gadget, “Yowzers”! Trae Ireland (Bluebeard) makes good enough “sinister sex criminal, literal ladykiller” faces to get his rapey-stabby persona across, but really doesn’t have much to do beyond that. I actually wouldn’t mind seeing him play Bluebeard in a full-length feature, but unless Warner Bros gives Suicide Squad member Slipknot (the role Bluey’s filling in for here) his own movie, I don’t see The Asylum bothering. Onto Isaac Reyes, he’s nothing special. Maybe’s it’s a case of being shafted with a barely interesting role (loser never even breaks out his magic flute), but pretty boy Piper was the plain oatmeal packet in this Quaker Oats variety box.
Fiona Rene was great as Carabosse, getting crazy and evil enough without vomiting ham everywhere. Visually she’s obviously a bite off of Suicide Squad villainess Enchantress, while her romantic obsession with Death takes directly from Harley’s abusive relationship with Mr. J, and I’m not mad about either. I mean in the angry way, not the “Mad About You” way, a show which makes me angry in a whole other way. I appreciate Rene’s physical and verbal evocation of the gutter witch for the most part, more so given the mondo oral obstruction she had to deal with while doing it! Speaking of dental nightmares that could put an Orthodontist’s kids through college, Joseph Harris is built well enough for his rip-off of Bigbie Wolf, but I’ll be damned if I gleamed even an ounce of the dude’s acting prowess. He spends the whole flick mumbling and growling from behind a bulldog level of artificial under bite. Sure, Karloff could convey a butt ton of emotion from behind full Frankenstein regalia, but it’s hardly fair to compare. As such, I’ll give The Big Bad Wolf a pass.
Nick Principe has a couple of decent comedy line deliveries as Death, but playing up the Reaper as a poor man’s Andrew Dice Clay doesn’t do anyone any favors, whether that’s Principe’s fault or Inman’s. Two talons down and a “Blart” for good measure. Finally, Aaron Moses gets in a decent moment or two of sympathy for the “big on heart but short on brains” twins (of which he plays both), while Randall Yarbrough (Hatter) just has to stand around being oblivious for half his screen time and sit around being ‘shroomed off his ass for the other half. So, Beavis bless his little glitter beard, but without the accompanying “madness” that we all associate with the tea swilling weirdo, his involvement is a lost cause at best and a waste of time at worst. Please collect your $300 headphones and see yourself out. Auf Wiedersehen.
With that done, let’s talk about sex, baby. By which I mean, let’s talk about writer-director Jeremy Inman. Saying that anything associated with The Asylum “shines” feels wrong, unless you’re dropping the always endearing proverb about the difficulties of putting a sheen on shit. As such, rather than saying Inman shines with Sinister Squad, allow me instead to praise him for vaulting well above the lowered bar I set for him and earning himself a gold medal! Unfortunately, in the ToA Olympics a gold medal is only the equivalent of a 3-out-of-5 (in order, both platinum and molybdenum rank higher), but for a movie that I was scooping up a pile of Ammut’s excrement for in preparation of condemnation, it’s still high praise! As of this episode, I’ve reviewed six other Asylum mistakes, and this model of mediocrity stands well above the majority of them! Most casual movie viewers will downright dislike it, for which I don’t blame them, but I may just end up liking Sinister Squad better than Suicide Squad if the bad news reviews I’ve heard are any indication!
Though the movie gives us a peek or two too many at its endgame, and the finale wraps things up a little too loosely, I actually found myself entertained. Maybe the heat’s finally scrambled my noggin like a dozen sidewalk eggs, but yes, I enjoyed the ending to an Asylum movie! A masterpiece by no stretch of a Tie Dang Gong student’s pecker, but it’s still a fun little movie that’s miles ahead of most Asylum brand caboose juice. By Charles Manson’s forehead swastika, will wonders never cease!? What I didn’t appreciate was the needless name drop at the end, as the group is literally referred to as Alice’s own little “Sinister Squad” (not to be confused with The Sinister Six, Mister Sinister, or The Sinister Minister), but that’s a jab at Will Smith’s equally bad selling of the title to his own team-up movie, so it’s understandable despite being aural barb wire dragged across my ear drums.
Before bringing this episode to its happy ending, for those wondering, the majority of the soundtrack is as bad as you’d fear it to be (but not bad enough to be good, like Ankle Biters‘ “3 Feet Tall”). It’s made up mostly of nothing special hip-hop and EDM generica, with some oddly appropriate old-timey ’50s teeny bopper soda jerk stuff thrown in for charm.
And with that, we tap out on another installment of The Tomb. It wasn’t until the majority of the work had already been done that I’d made the connection between this and Jeremy Inman’s prior work, Avengers Grimm. It seems to have a similar premise (only, as you’d presume, ripping-off Marvel’s The Avengers instead) and includes the tale of how Rumps (played then by Casper Van Dien) got his hands on the mirror and wrecked it in the first place, despite not being listed on IMDB as having a canonical connection between the pair. I intend on reviewing it for a future feature (I’ve got the next dozen or so reviews already laid out ahead of me), so with any luck Mr. Inman will continue to keep his spot on my good side and give me more praise to belt on about like Julie Andrews in the Austrian Alps after skiing with Scarface.
Peace be with you, my peoples. See ya next time!
In movie geekinese, that translates to “Enter at Your Own Rick”. Who’s Rick? You don’t wanna know.
That face you make when a crackhead offers to suck your dick for a fiver and you consider it… you know, because $5 is a really good price and you could probably just close your eyes and imagine Selena Gomez or something…
Keifer Sutherland takes a hard look at his life choices after another Christmas party ends with tequila on his breath and an innocent conifer’s sap on his hands
This scene is from the director’s “blue” period.
*mumble*mumble*mumble*mumble* (“Anybody wanna see me do a magic trick? I’ll make a pencil disappear! You know, like that scene… in that movie… with… that gay cowboy guy… Anyone?”)
Her father was the Flukeman and her mother was a piranha. Her conception was enough to give Dagon nightmares! The ironic part? She can chew through even the toughest of steaks, but she can’t digest meat, so she’s a vegetarian. True story.
“How bad ass are these, right?! I’m an insomniac, so I purchase all of my home décor from those late night knife sale shows. These puppies were calling my Diner’s Club card like a sailor to the sirens!”
She’s modeling the keystone outfit of the Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen spring collection.
“Please forgive me, tt was a one-night mistake! I was drunk and alone and confused! Those CHUDs meant nothing to me! I love YOU!”
“Is this really worth risking our necks over, Goldie?”
“Have you ever eaten bear porridge, Piper? Have you?! If you had, you wouldn’t be asking that question.”
“You think you’ve hit rock bottom? Come see me when you wake up from your latest blackout with your face covered in dried faerie jizz, then you can tell me about ‘rock bottom’, Jack.”
Special guest star Cesar Romero as The White Rabbit… bobblehead
Anubis will return next time in
“Return of the Return to the Blue Galoot”
Featuring: Iko “Merantau” Uwais , Joe “Fast & Furious 6” Taslim, Doni “Hearts of Freedom” Alamsyah
Writer & Director: Gareth “The Raid 2” Evans
Also Known As: The Raid
Sequel: The Raid 2
Hey kids, it’s me again! Your jackal-in-chief, your podunk punk, your Death God with dad bod, and the founder of the no-pants-on pantheon – Anubis Von Mojo! I wanted to have a heavenly chorus singing “Return of the Mack” here while pyro shoots out of a big top hat on my head, but there wasn’t any room in the World Tour de Farce travel budget for any of it. Speaking of, after that extensive layover in Spain I’m back on the proverbial road a-gain! I’m backtracking just a smidge, having realized that my last telemetry jump overshot Indonesia and put my ass in Malaysia instead. Remind me to kill that Stargate operator when I get back. Making the best (or moderately better than worst) of the situation, well, you saw my Apokalips X review. And if you didn’t, rewind 6 or 7 episodes and treat it like halitosis: Scope it! Where was I? That’s right, Indonesia. Here’s some quick trivia on the island nation. We’re still applying for some of Uncle Sam’s sweet educational stipend money, so there will be a quiz at the end of the review. As such, eyes front and mouths shut!
For sharters, errrr starters, Indonesia is the FOURTH most visited country in the world, and the LARGEST congregation of islands, consisting of 17,800 individual isles! Yes, that’s a comma and NOT a decimal. Indonesians laugh when you present them a bottle of Thousand Island dressing. Like Ron Jeremy’s dick laughing at whatever Andy Dick’s dick looks like. It’s no surprise that half the islands haven’t even been named yet. Shit, someone put me in touch with Indonesia’s Department of Naming and for the reasonable price of just $1 per island, I’ll have 9,000 names for ya by the end of the month! Speaking of geographical milestones, Indonesia has more active volcanoes than any other country in the world with 400! Actually, given that they’ve got almost 18,000 islands in their domain, 400 active volcanoes isn’t nearly as impressive a statistic. I mean, sure, 400 is a LOT of volcanoes, but on a per-island basis that’s barely more than 2%, so mentioning the volcano statistic after the island number statistic is kinda like Extreme going on after a 2 hour AC/DC set. Meh.
Indonesia is not only the largest supplier worldwide of liquid natural gas, cloves, nutmeg, and plywood (80% of all plywood, in fact!), but is also home to the largest number of shark species at right around 150 different breeds! You know which shark you can’t find in their waters? The titular man-eater of Raiders of the Lost Shark. Yep, that’s a thing that I just discovered exists and I’m so happy to spread the disease that I had to namedrop it on your collective chests as soon as possible. Continuing on the native fauna kick, Indo also lays claim to the world’s smallest primate (Tarsier Pygmy), the world’s smallest fish (Paedocypris progenetica – “Paedo” to his pals), the world’s longest snake (Python Reticulates), and the world’s only living “dragon” (Komodo, named for the island they’re native to). Yes, I have a full collection of “Zoobooks“. The anatomical illustrations are fucking metal as Hel and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’re living a life unfulfilled. Make like Kool & the Gang and get down on it!
Heyyyyyy! I’m reviewing Theee Raaaaid! (sung to the tune of 2 Live Crew’s “We Want Some Pussy”) Yes! After a grueling 4 year wait, I’m finally allowing myself to watch The Raid! I spent a long time looking forward to this, which is never a good thing as despite my best efforts this practice inevitably builds some form of expectation due to overheard tidbits like “amazing action scenes that’ll make your eyes shed tears of joy before they bleed streaks of awesome from the brain explosion that watching them can cause”. Not a direct quote, but you get the idea. In my experience, met expectations are the rarest of the rare. Not just “bloody” rare, but “still grazing” rare. Sorry, we jackals are opportunistic predatory omnivores – we scavenge puns whenever the window opens. If any of you are homophonephobics, I’m going to have to ask you to leave. There’s no place for your ignorance and bigotry here. *rimshot*
In case you’ve never heard of today’s movie, its original title is simply The Raid. For some reason, “Redemption” was tacked on for international distribution, which is really odd since there isn’t exactly much in the way of redemption happening. Maybe Sony wanted to avoid any possible lawsuits by S.C. Johnson & Son over confusion with their insecticidal product Raid©. Ask me (and even if you don’t), it seems like the perfect chance for a cross promotion! “Raid: when you don’t just want to kill bugs dead, you want to beat ’em violently first and make ’em question the choices they made that brought them to this level of agony!” A bit long-winded, sure, but I imagine one of those big city fancy-pants marketing firm types could shrink my Andre the Giant into a perfectly viable Hervé Villechaize.
Sorry if the last few paragraphs feel like filler, but I seriously don’t know what I’m supposed to talk about once I actually start reviewing the movie itself! Redemption‘s only 4 years old, so it’s protected under The Tomb Accords Anti-Spoilers Law! Unable to discuss the two or three plot developments that mean anything, I’m left with very little to write about! So, yes, I apologize for stuffing a cucumber down my jockeys, but now that I’ve confessed to the true size of my schnitzel, won’t you give me a chance to attempt to get you off? I mean, we’ve already gone this far, and we’re miles from where anyone can hear you. What do you say? 🙂
Oh, and before we really put knife and fork to the entree, let it be noted that I’m reviewing the English dub of the movie (technical problems with the subtitles on the original language version), so if I quote anything that doesn’t gel with the version you’ve seen, don’t crucify me. I don’t have the “Savior Sixer” abs for something like that.
Meet Rama (Iko Uwais). He’s a rookie member of the Jakarta police force about to embark on the biggest “make or break” day of his career. More “make or die”, but who’s counting? Being from Indonesia, he’s also Muslim. Not surprising, as it’s the dominate theological faith in that neck of the woods. If you have a problem with a flick’s protagonist being Muslim, DO NOT WATCH THIS MOVIE. As such, may I offer another option for tonight’s entertainment? First, swallow a whole roll of Mentos©. Make it two if you’re macho enough. Then, wrap your head in duct tape until your mouth is securely closed. Next, insert a tube up your nose and have a friend or family member beer bong you with a bottle of Coke, making sure the tube is in far enough that the Coke empties down your throat. After that? Well, I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise. Just make sure your friend sends me a link to the video on YouTube! Also, you might wanna make sure your will is up-to-date before trying this. No reason, it’s just a good thing to do every so often.
Before taking part in the biggest mission of his budding career, Rama says his prayers, does his pull-ups, beats the unholy tar out of his punching bag, then kisses his pregnant wife and her big ol’ baby beer gut goodbye. He also says “I’ll bring him back.” to an older gent, who I’m presuming to be his father. From the onset, writer-director Gareth Evans is setting this up to be a tale of major triumph or crippling tragedy. Smart money’s on Rama making it to the end of the day with a still functioning circulatory system, but this could be one of those artsier flicks where the hero dies at the end. Whether that idea makes your eyes water, or you’re a psychopath who gets murder boners from watching protagonists getting popped, keep the Kleenex© handy just in case, pals and gals.
Rama’s part of a twenty man SWAT operation to take down a notorious Jakartan crime lord known as Tama (Ray Sahetapy). Tama is treated like the God of Crime in this city, and is flanked by his top henches Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian) and the not-at-all-intimidatingly monikered Andi (Doni Alamsyah). Not to be confused with the short-lived Marvel character of the same name (born from Bob Newhart’s even shorter-lived sitcom “Bob“), Mad Dog is a fitting recipient of the Dolemite “Human Tornado” Award. He’s referred to by SWAT leader Jaka (Joe Taslim) as “a maniac of feet and fists that would tear down walls for his boss” and prefers to kill his enemies with his bare hands rather than with a weapon. As you can imagine, this is gonna lead to a whole shit show of trouble for our law enforcers…unless, you know, one of these cops saw Raiders of the Lost Ark (not to be confused with Raiders of the Lost Shark) and just shoots Doggie in the fucking face from across a room. Not that real life logic finds its way into movies very often, but you never know.
And Andi? Jaka describes him as “the brains of Tama’s business” who “keeps Mad Dog in check” and “given the opportunity, he will put bullets into you”. Though I have to bite the metaphorical bullet here to avoid a spoiler, I’ve gotta say that it’s a miracle Tama’s managed to keep his operation running as successfully as he has if Andi’s really the brains behind it. Later in the film, Andi makes a glaring error in his decision making that deservedly fucks him over big time. A screw up that any remotely intelligent person would’ve considered ahead of time, let alone someone who’s supposed to be the smart one in this Three Stooges empire of the Indonesia underworld.
Now for the movie’s hook: Tama’s crime kingdom operates out of an old apartment complex. He’s got his own in-house narcotics lab, a Sliver style peeping tom closed circuit camera network, and he rents the apartments out to any thieves, pushers, killers, or jaywalkers looking for police protection at an affordable rate with all utilities included and a flexible lease. Sure, the place is a rundown shithole and the Super is almost impossible to get a hold of on the weekends, but it’s still a better deal than most of the places you’ll find in any of the major cities in this country!
Prior to the raid (we have a title!), Rama asks why this group of newbs is being tasked with taking over the Towering Dante’s Inferno of the Jakartan realty market. One of his team members, goofy-ass tough guy stereotype Bowo (Tegar Satrya) throws out the typical good-little-soldier testosterone juiced answer of “WHY THE FUCK NOT!?” and tries to alpha male our protagonist in the pooper by calling him “boy”. Hopefully his death will be hilarious, and let’s hope it includes him screaming like a little kid and pissing himself. Jaka puts Bow in a corner (he doesn’t get Baby privileges) and responds to Ramen’s query, telling him that Tama’s been challenged by rival gangs for years, none of whom was able to topple his felonious tower. None of which addresses the questions of “Why us?” and Why today?”. And why not? Because it’s an incredibly transparent plot point that I’m cursed not to address! Damn gypsies and their hexes!
The busload of blue boys reach their destination, and meet up with their head muckity-muck, Lieutenant Wahyu (Pierre Gruno, looking like modern day Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat). Wahyu isn’t happy about all of the wet-noses in their group, but given this is probably not a sanctioned operation to begin with, he’ll take all of the bullet sponges he can get. They luck out on getting past the front gate to the complex, when they nab a returning tenant and use his keys to gain entry. The mission goes well at first, with the team going ninja on the first five floors, incapacitating any and all miscreants with the precision of surgeons and the silence of little cat feet. Given that Tama’s Tower only has 15 levels, they should be done cleaning house by lunch! Or at least they would have, if Jaka didn’t have this whole morality problem about not killing kids…
Yep, a young boy gets his big red exclamation point (not literally) when he spots the aspiring Solid Snakes and sends out the warning signal to the adults. Did ‘Nam teach the world nothing? Women and children in a warzone are NOT to be trusted! If they’re not wearing C4 Underoos, they’re always within reach of a damn alarm! Anyway, shit goes south faster than a Yankee slave owner after the signing of The Emancipation Proclamation. Before you can say “pig hunt!”, everyone in the building is on high alert and out for blood, with Tama promising free room and board to anyone who brings him a fresh slice of bacon. Can a SWAT team of well-armed amateurs survive this deadly edition of ghetto “Fun House“? This obstacle course of mayhem and murder? Will Ram Jam, or anyone for that matter, be walking away from Satan’s apartment complex by the end of Act 3? Given that they’re unable to call in reinforcements, Tama’s got the whole place wired with security cameras, and they’re outnumbered something like 25-to-1, it’s gonna take a miracle for the good guys to win this one! Or maybe they’ll just escape through some conveniently placed plot holes.
The break down for the rest of the movie consists of scenes of people shooting at each other, cops running away from gangs of bloodthirsty thugs wielding machetes, Ramesses showing himself to be the deadly version of Jackie Chan as he beats his way through waves of enemies using everything at hand, Mad Dog beating ass like a spanking machine set to “Adrian Petersen”, a really tense scene involving a machete and a crawlspace, a bout of Home Ec amateur surgery, extreme fire ax remodeling, a DIY kitchen bomb straight out of the Anarchist’s Cookbook (or Die Hard 3), and… and…… STUFF I CAN’T TALK ABOUT! ARGH! DAMN MY MYSTICAL KEYBOARD AND ITS CURSED “SPOIL-LOCK” KEY!
As wrapped in anti-spoiler tape as my fingers may be, I can tell you this much: Evans telegraphs his tale like a Street Fighter character shouting the name of their special move before they actually do said move. If you watch Redemption and don’t see the twists in the road from a mile off, you’ll want to consult you physician, because you may have a crayon lodged in your forebrain. In fact, this sounds like the setup to one of those Jeff Foxworthy “You might be a redneck!” jokes. Don’t be a redneck. Buckle your safety belt. Sorry, crossed some reference wires there. I LEARNED IT BY WATCHING YOU!
Though his storytelling is very basic and his characters are generic archetypes, the Wales born Gareth Evans (“Doesn’t he run like a Welshman?”) knows how to make an action scene. Given that that’s the kind of thing you’d expect from an action movie, it’s good enough to see The Raid to its finish. Funny enough, GE has said that if you took out all of the fighting, his movie would come off more like survival horror, not unlike [REC]. I can see it. Protagonist gradually works their way up an apartment complex they can’t escape while trying to avoid their would-be killers? Absolutely. Maybe if Evans collaborated with a better writer and focused more of his efforts on the director duties, we could get something amazing out of him. Shit, I’d love to see what he could do with a Moon Knight or Daredevil movie! You never know. If Marvel can take a chance on giving the writer-director of Tromeo & Juliet $170 million to make a movie starring a monosyllabic Treebeard and Ranger Rick’s foul-mouthed cousin, I wouldn’t rule it out…
As is, Redemption still works great as a 90 minute testosterone trip. It’s brain candy. It’s a popcorn flick. A thing of beauty in its own right, and a nice accomplishment for the mere million-or-so dollars spent to make it. A budget that was made back 4 times over by its US box office alone! The fight choreography itself is worth the price of admission and Rama’s mandatory one-vs-many “tonfa and combat knife” battle ballet would give both Jean-Claude Van Damme and Mikhail Baryshnikov the green-eyed monster. Give me a movie where Iko Uwais and Tony Jaa hit each other with sticks and knees for two hours and you’ve just leased my eyeballs.
Before I wrap this up, I have a 32oz. slab of nitpicker beef to serve to the Sony advertising department. The Redemption poster promises us “1 Ruthless Crime Lord. 20 Elite Cops. 30 Floors of Hell” as the tagline, but I have two problems with that statement. #1 – It’s well established that most of the officers partaking in the mission are rookies. Skilled as they may be, I don’t think I’d ever refer to a greenhorn in any position as “elite”. Not that I have any doubt any one of them wouldn’t be able to beat the tits off of an American SWAT team member, but still. This pales in comparison to my next bit of under-the-belt irritation though: #2 – The apartment building is only 15 stories high. I get trying to oversell it for crowd hype purposes, but fuck you Sony marketing twats for straight up lying to us. Shit, even the apartment complex portrayed on the poster itself only has 20 floors! Let me upgrade that “fuck you” to a “fuck you with a Roman Candle”. I’m gonna stick my Krakatoa just east of your Java. Indonesian movie joke. It’s okay if you didn’t laugh.
And so goes the deadliest realtor walk-through since The Grudge open house. Blood and adrenaline flowed in equal measure and my four year anticipation was almost completely satisfied, if not for the poor plot development. Be on the lookout for our next less-than-epic episode, coming sooner than you think…unless you think it’ll be anytime in the next 3 days, in which case it sounds like someone needs to temper their expectations. Right now, I have preparations to make for my Evil Dead Bride’s birthday, and the custom shadow box I had made for Her signed copy of The Necronomicon has been sitting in a Daytona Beach FedEx facility for the last week. When can we finally send Florida off into the Atlantic and castrate the US’s flaccid geographical dong?
Oh, and no quiz. I was too high on blowfish toxin brownies last night. Everything I typed came out in tongues (by which I mean you’d have to have your tongue yanked out to pronounce any of it) and that’s all I remember before I lost consciousness. No diggity, I woke up in a bathtub full of V8 and cocktail shrimp this morning, with my laptop on the toilet and an open Word file that was harder to read than an Irvine Welsh novel translated into R’lyehian. Ktulu luv a duck.
Until next time, Mungkin hatimu tidak berlari lebih cepat otak Anda!
*sniff*sniff* “Uggh! Looks like it’s past time to get the old prayer rug washed.”
“You know I love you no matter what, baby, but I think you should seriously consider switching to Lite beers.”
“Okay, if whoever (Whomever?) it is that has the methane leak comes forward now, I promise you immunity from a Defcon 4 soap beating in the locker room after this. This is your last chance: cork it or pay the price!”
These Indonesian knock-off Three Stooges are kinda depressing… and scary. No like.
“Uggh! That stink is trapped in my nose hairs now! When I find out who it is with the IBS, they’re gonna be DOA!”
“I don’t mean to tell you how to do your job, officer, but your continued rubbing of my nipple is making me very uncomfortable!”
This is why you never go cheap and ask your friend to pierce your ear for you.
And here I thought I was the last person on Earth under the age of 70 that still had a LAN line!
“Hello! Machete man! I was wondering if you had any sugar cane or bamboo or coconuts that need macheting? I’m trying to work my way through night school… Hello? Well, I’ll just leave my business card on the table and if you or your friends need my services, please call. Thank you!”
Norelco© tries to appeal to the hipster market with their new Amish Shaver™. It’s disturbingly popular for something that left permanent scarring after 93% of test shaves… well, on the ones that survived, that is.
“You can’t talk to me like that! I defeated “Macho Man” Randy Savage at Wrestlemania III in what many have called the greatest Wrestelmania match of ALL TIME! Sure, my whole run as “The Dragon” was embarrassing, what with that stupid hat and those weird arm fins, but I know Mickey Rourke, damn it!”
This is why you never give a stranger unsolicited advice on why he should get hair plugs.
Anubis will return next time in