Episode 100 – The Fall of the Louse of Usher (2002)

or “Love. Love Will Tear Us Apart Again”

Featuring: James “Black Milk” Johnston , Eliza “Boudica Bites Back” Russell , Marie Findley

Writer & Director: Ken “Tommy” Russell

Also Known As: The Fall of the Louse of Usher: a Gothic Tale for the 21st Century ; Ken Russell’s The Fall of the Louse of Usher

Origin: UK

Review_____

“Even if you come in here sane, no way you’re gonna get out of here anything but crazy!”

Guten tag, schmutz-kinder! Today marks the annual event known to wrestling fans as Wrestlemania. On a larf, I thought it would be fun to do a roundtable of reviews for Ken Russell movies. What does Ken Russell have to do with professional wrestling? Nothing. At least not that I know of. No, the theme for this gathering exists for no other reason than because it lends itself to the ‘table’s puntacular title!

Yep. That's the kinda shit I do. And thanks to my fellow cinemasochists for taking this journey with me! Though never a big Ken Russell fan, I have seen a few of his better known flicks. I thought Altered States was a fun acid trip through pseudo scientific madness, Tommy was an enjoyably dark and unique musical experience, and Lair of the White Worm is still one of my favorite flicks to come out of the UK and the definite catalyst for my bizarre attraction to serpentine women who want to eat me alive. Despite the creep-ass little goblin from the cover of the Gothic VHS being burned into my memory from childhood, I never got around to renting it. From what Ragnarok has to say in his review, it sounds like I didn’t miss much. Too bad that copy of The Devils I sent him was rerouted back to me via USPS, otherwise he could’ve reviewed that instead. Stupid lack of proper postage!

Before I get started, I’m throwing out the disclaimer that this review is going to be a rush job, so apologies if it lacks the polish (or Polish) of other episodes. I’ve been entangled on the battlefield of the mind in a war with the Overfiend for possession of my soul and just recently managed to lock the beast away in the Crystal of Zoloft, putting me at odds with my own predetermined due date. As such, I’ve filled my gut tank with several cans of Tear Ass energy drink from Dollar Embargo to give me the fuel I need and, as an odd side effect, the ability to taste color! I can confirm that, yes, purple is indeed a fruit. The only flavor they had on-shelf was the nebulous “Citrus X”. Unlike Chemical X, which turns inanimate objects into Powerpuffs, the only thing Citrus X transforms is the odor of your urine. My piss bucket smells like it’s full of orange peels swimming in battery acid. I’m not 100% sure my kidneys aren’t going to explode by the time we get to the moral of this story. Oh well. Sallying forthwith!

In the twilight of his career, Kenny Russell wasn’t much for movie making. He stuck with weird short subject shit for the most part, while my pick for this Celluloid Zeroes collaboration is the final feature length flick the freaky fiend filmed before punching his ticket to the Underworld in 2011. And when I say “filmed”, I don’t mean it literally, because The Fall of the Louse of Usher was shot entirely via camcorder!

Yes indeed my flowers and weeds, the technology your parents used to have to rely on when they wanted to make their own sex tapes (back when they were actual tapes) is the medium through which Uncle Ken chose to tell this backyard gothic rock opera of his. And I gotta say, upon discovering this, my immediate concerns were that I had been bamboozled and this wasn’t the same Ken Russell I was looking for. Learning that its legitimacy is legitimate however, I felt like I was watching home movies of someone’s grandpa in the final days of a fatal cancer diagnosis. Without mincing words, you just can’t shake that awful feeling of pity for seeing someone brought so low. Even if just done as a simple pet project to have fun with his friends and neighbors (which it was), it still feels so beneath what the man had done with his prestigious (or at least semi-prestigious) career that it’s… well… pathetic. If they’d kept it as a private joke to share with each other and bring out for summer barbecue viewings, that’d be one thing. But to put it out on a DVD and demand people pay to see it? By Roger Daltrey’s tasseled togs, are you fucking yankin’ my crank?! Clearly not, otherwise I’d have nothing to rag on here! Well, aside from the extension cord I use for a belt.


Roger Daltrey – Innovator of the “glue huge strands of cooked spaghetti to your sleeves” look.

Okay, enough puttin' off the lovin'. Let's rinse off our genitals, put on my Lou Bega mixtape of bone medleys, and bang this bitch out like Sean Michaels (the porn actor, not the wrestler)! Let's just hope we don't let loose any two-cheek squeaks (or squeakquels) while we're at it.

The setting for our story in simply “Orange County, USA” according to our opening. Okay, so is it the Orange County with the arguing family of motorcycle builders, the one with Mischa Barton, or one of the half-dozen other fucking Orange Counties in the damn country!? Though it’s later revealed that our setting is the West Coast edition, that tiny tidbit of info would’ve been nice to know beforehand. As Baphomet would say, “Bah”.

Roderick Usher (James Johnston, who doubles as the movie’s composer) is a goth rock musician 20 years behind the curve. Lead guitarist and singer/whiner (and occasional whisper rapper) of a heretofore unnamed band (might I suggest “The Poegues”?), he’s arrested for the suspected murder of his wife/maracas player, Annabelle Lee (Emma Millions), to whom everyone likes to attach the preface descriptor of “Sweet”. Not so sweet when she’s found walled up in the Usher house with half her face missing and her pet mini-pincher chewing through her guts! Since her rocker widower is clearly off his rocker at the time of his capture, barely coherent and ranting about his innocence, rather than going to prison Roddy’s instead carted off to the local loony bin. Here he’s put under the care of the demented Dr. Calahari (Ken Russell) and his sex bomb assistant, Nurse ABC Smith (Marie Findley).


Not a good sign of things to come… pun intended.

Not just another bimbo in a medical fetish costume, ABC (Already Been Chewed?) is one of those wonderfully empowered ladies who uses her sexuality to manipulate others into getting what she wants, the endgame of which is often something fatal for those seduced by her charms. Also, as everyone is keen to point out, “She’s a great piece of ass”. Pretty much what you’d expect from a Russell girl.

They’re similar to “Bond girls”, only way more likely to be emotionally damaged and way more likely to have some manner of underlying disfigurement that will make you paranoid of any woman who hits on you during last call. Not unlike how Basket Case taught women to never talk up any guy at a bar carrying a picnic basket.


Hellooooooo Nurse!

Russell's oddball headshrinker has a penchant for wearing a variety of headpieces, which may or may not be the writer/director/producer/editor/cinematographer/actor's unsubtle pun to the audience that he himself is a “man of many hats”. Or, it could just be a sign that he had a bunch of goofy hats lying around in his home prop box that he thought would make for a running gag funny only to him. Either or. Said fetishizer of up top props also puts on a “hard to pinpoint but I'm pretty confident it's meant to be German because ABC keeps referring to him as 'Herr doktor'” accent that sounds exactly like the frantic urine lab doctor from the English dub of Dominion: Tank Police. And if you don’t know what that is, your life is a little less happy than it should be. Fix that. Soon. Or be forever denied existence as a complete person. Tank Police. Feel the power that we’ve got. We’ll give it our best shot.

No sooner is Rod tossed into his new cell then he starts in on the standard issue sexually deviant hallucinations that every lead of a Ken Russell movie suffers from. In this case, our hero envisions an orgy of blow up dolls that includes an inflatable dinosaur for added “Da fuq?!” factor. As he writhes, physically in his straight jacket and emotionally in his madness, ABC looks on intrigued. Speaking of our Nightingale on Elm Street, her role at the hospital is seemingly as Calahari’s personal caretaker more so than as his assistant. Much of their screen time together is spent with ABC feeding him, cleaning out his ears, and constantly checking the old fart’s vitals while they discuss the Usher case. Mayhaps the demented doc is a hypochondriac and needs frequent reassurance that he’s in stable health? Could it be that he’s due for a mandatory physical by the Department of Health? Then again, it may just be a thinly-veiled metaphor about how nurses tend to do all the work as doctors sit around getting fat off their fancy college degrees and trying their best to distinguish between a patient’s sphincter and a hole in the ground… which should probably raise some concerns from everyone given that doctors’ offices generally don’t include holes in their floors.

While DC and ABC try to unravel the mystery of Annabelle’s death (and whether it has anything to do with Roderick’s sister/violinist Madeline Usher [Ken’s wife Eliza Russell]) With a bona fide celebrity in their midst, Cal wants ‘Rick to perform for the institution’s patients-and-staff mixer, leaving it up to ABC to do the convincing. When her lusty demeanor isn’t enough to persuade the disturbed music maker, she confines him to a makeshift torture bed (that looks to be a beach chair with a blanket tossed over it) as a swinging pendulum butcher knife gradually descends back and forth above his pelvis. Though the protag laughs off her threat, citing an erectile deficiency, he’s not so sure of himself when XYZ reveals that she gave him Viagra. At the mere mention of her boner juice roofie job, Lil’ Rod (sounds like a personal problem) springs to life and Mr. Usher gives in to his caretaker’s demands. Good thing my doc’s accompanying CRN isn’t that hardcore. Being the world’s worst diabetic, she’d have had me paying dues to the Eunuchs Union Local 37 before you could say “THIS IS A MEDICAL EXAMINATION! STOP EATING THAT CHEESECAKE!”.

During the crazy people social soiree, Roderick is encouraged by Dr. C to get every available appendage he can up Nurse Smith’s very short uniform skirt. Hey, getting turned down by trim doesn’t mean you can’t encourage your fellow phallus holder to have a try! Bro code… or some horseshit. Anyway, Mr. Usher is then accosted by a pair of his fellow inmates that are heavy on a hippie astrology kick, asking him if he’s into “Ass-trology”, which I assure you that I certainly am. They allude to Miss ABC’s past interactions with a group called “The West Side Boys” which, from their intonations, presumably refers to some fucked up tribulations. More specifically, the ones spelled G-A-N-G-R-A-P-E.

No, not “gan grape” you nards! I meant “gang rape”. She had her flower forcibly plucked by a vulgar group of ne’er-do-wells with more testosterone than social grace. At least as far as I can infer. The later reveal that her entire erotic demeanor is made up of literal artificial bits and pieces (including that “great piece of ass!”) to disguise whatever shapeless horror she really is, postulates clearly that her outer self is a deceptive shell to hide the fragile truth beneath. Some obvious symbolism for Uncle Ken to waterboard us with. It’s an interesting visual representation, but is smashed so hard into our faces that it’s like being talked down to by a tech support rep that makes you wanna reach through the phone and elbow them in the throat.

I don’t do great with “message movies”. Unless they involve people getting run over en masse.

While Nursey Poo and The Rod explore their blossoming relationship, Dr. C uses the astrologist gals (one of whom is your typical old gypsy lady, while the other is a minstrel mummy… let that sink in) in an effort to Ouija up the soul of the slain Annabelle Lee and get the story of her demise straight from the victim’s protoplasmic mouth. Unable to establish a direct connection to the lass, they do manage to summon OSIRIS(!!!) instead, who speaks to them through the sacred vessel of… a Big Mouth Billy Bass.

Okay. This part got me. A surprise kidney punch of happiness I wasn't prepared for that left me on the floor with upturned lips ever so slightly trembling. This leads to a riddle that leads to a vibrating slinky version of those “weasel chasing a ball” toys that finally leads to the gypsy character divining that the question to the answer “The reveal of Annabelle Lee's true killer” is “What's the secret of her bones?”. Man, trying to force gags into a ‘Jeopardy!’ shaped mold requires mental gymnastics that my caffeine fueled cortex can’t fucking handle right now. This leads to Calahari sending his masked henchman Igor to retrieve Ann’s pearlies from her gravesite.

Taking a break from all story progress, Dr. Cal takes a scenic route scene to gloat to Roderick about his prized experiment – having hypnotized (via several props acquired from a Spencer’s Gifts clearance sale) a previous patient/guinea pig named Ernest Valdemar (Peter Mastin) in the midst of the man’s death throes, allowing Ernie’s mind to continue living indefinitely and communicating through a voice amplification box despite the death of the rest of his body… except for the part about how his jaw and eyes are still functional, and the other part about how THE BRAIN CANNOT SURVIVE WITHOUT BLOOD FLOW OR OXYGEN. Unfortunately, despite Mr. V’s predicament being an interesting piece about a person buried alive in the grave of his own corpse for 7 months, this bit of sidetrack has zilch to do with Rod’s tale and only serves as a *wink*wink*nudge*nudge* to EAP readers that reeks of time filler.


Sick Destro cosplay, bro!

Speaking of filler, the next segment takes the same theme, makes like a looter with a new TV and runs with it. Calahari has a therapy session with a woman hidden behind a mask who has some weird psycho-sexual fear of garden gnomes. Through his mania-delving analysis, the doc helps her realize she's actually famed femme fatale female wrestler, Beulah Von Birmingham (Sandra Scott)! Her revelation is interrupted when a masked prostitute named Mary (Mrs. Russell again) inserts herself into the scenario, declaring herself a birthday present to Roderick from his big sister… while ironically being played by the same woman who plays his big sister. Beulah recognizes her as one of her wrestling rivals though, and the pair have a no holds barred hardcore brawl for supremacy! It degrades into the two just dry humping each other before the silliness subsides prematurely with the pair escaping over a wall via convenient step ladder, to the chagrin of Calahari who planned to imprison the pair in his crazy house. Again, fun random bit of wackiness, but also again, entirely disconnected from having anything to do with advancing the damn story!

Wait a sec… Whoa. That’s a bit weird, isn’t it? I establish this review on the basis of its creator’s surname being a pun on the word “wrestle”, and ultimately there’s a scene of female wrestlers doing just that. The hypothesis of my subconscious being an astral projected time traveler while I sleep gains more and more traction. Nanoo fucking nannoo.

When Igor returns with the disinterred dentures of a dozen or so Ushers buried in the same boneyard (or, purchased from a gumball machine outside the corner deli as the case more likely is), Annabelle’s rise from the collection and hint at Poe’s short story ‘The Murders at the Rue Morgue’ as being the key to unlocking what really happened to her. Cal deciphers this as meaning Rod’s wife was actually murdered by a gorilla, but before he can question this logic further he’s called away to Valdemar’s room, where his pet zombie finally gives up the ghost. As if that weren’t enough to upset the bloated old goat, the institute’s previous staff, which the doctor had apparently imprisoned in the asylum’s basement for challenging his “revolutionary methods”, have somehow escaped (or at least the two members we’re ever privy to) and are wilding throughout the building in pursuit of revenge! Less the “pee in the communal coffee pot at work” type and more the “Carrie White on prom night” version.

Roddy, herr doktor, the old gypsy (now wearing a tea cozy on her head) and the blackface mummy lady escape the hospital with all limbs intact, returning to the Usher Estate. Once there, ‘Ricky discovers beloved sister Madeline dead at her own hand on what looks to be a teenage girl’s bed, amid some topless statues in the yard. Seems the “fake news” media reported that her brother had died in the sanitarium riot and the resultant grief with which she was overtaken pushed her to Romeo & Juliet herself, leaving behind a recorded confession (played for them by a crimson faced gorilla) that she was the one who prematurely punched Sweet Annabelle Lee’s mortality ticket! In the thralls of his own heartbreak, little brother Usher demands Death take him too, to which Dr. C relinquishes with an injection of something lethal. The duo are laid in state in their yard, surrounded by potted flowers probably taken from the dumpster behind the WalMart Garden Center.

With 15 minutes left in the movie, the aforementioned gorilla gather the remaining trio of guests in the siblings’ old childhood playhouse to view a VHS tape (played in a microwave for laughs). The vid is a further confession by Mad Maddie, telling of how she used Gory (the gorilla) to kill Annabelle with an obedience chip that the family had planted in the hulking simian’s brain after the poor brute was rescued from an abusive trainer. Thanks to an off-brand Playstation 2 controller, Mads maliciously manipulated the monkey into murdering her only rival for her dear brother’s dingus. From here it’s all about wrapping shit up, as Calahari is captured and returned to the asylum to undergo treatment, Nurse ABC is fine (except for an unexplained hand crushing incident in the end), Roderick and Madeline’s souls descend to hell on a righteous deflating bouncy castle, and their son and daughter prepare to move back into their family home with Gory now that everyone else has been driven away… I’m not going to explain anything from that last sentence, as I’ll leave it up to your own minds to fill in the blanks that, well, we’re never given anyway.


Unless Russell’s next of kin have some 2-4-5 Trioxin laying around, I’m pretty sure this is the end.

And there it is: Ken Russell’s final feature, The Fall of the Louse of Usher. Though greatly hampered by its poor choice of medium and “let’s just use what we’ve got lying around our houses!” budget, there’s actually a lot of entertainment to be had. The sound quality isn’t great, sometimes even bordering on horrible as it makes certain scenes almost completely auditorially illegible, with the worst being a stair well exchange that’s nothing but shouty echoes. Speaking of noise, one of my least liked parts of this cacophony of crazy are the awful little music videos that Rod and Mad made for their band, not the least bothersome of which involves the siblings being all “anguished high school goth kids” (well into their thirties/forties) with each other in a cemetery, dragging numerous visual aids about their incest relationship across our faces where, like the scrotum intimation I’m trying to make here, none were needed.

The cast is actually pretty solid for a buncha no-names. Not everyone, mind you, but our top-of-the-credits trio – Johnston, Findley & Mr. Russell – all make this a much more pleasant pill to swallow. Their characters are entertaining if not always interesting and their performances are appropriately campy without going overboard. Broken heart throb Roderick is well lost in the forest of confusion and desperate to find his way out; Nurse ABC carries a sensuality, charm and foreboding smile reminiscent of Cassandra Peterson’s beloved Elvira or a mash-up of Rocky Horror’s Columbia & Magenta; and Doc Calahari is a kooky crackpot who’s really a lot of fun to watch when you warm up to him, even in spite of Russell’s absurd German-ish accent, which grows on you if your ears don’t revolt against you first.

If you’re a Poe nerd, or have a Poe nerd in your life, you’ll enjoy picking out Louse‘s varied variety of references to the godfather of goth’s library of extensive materials. Some are obvious, some are a bit more obscure, and still others I’m sure I missed entirely because I’m barely acquainted with the chronically depressed fiveheaded oddball’s greatest hits, let alone his deep cut ditties. If what I’ve heard was true, Louse of Usher is a much better homage to Eddie Allan’s efforts than 2012’s The Raven, so again, consider it for the Poephile in your presence. And don’t you worry John Cusack, I’ll be kicking down your door sooner or later with crackling criticisms to burn your nose hair by!

The “gothic tale for the 21st century” has great potential that peeks out from behind its discounted Halloween seasonal mall shop props and modified tool shed sets, and with a little bit of script tampering and an injection of capital, I think, sans hyperbole, that TFotLoU could have easily been another Rocky Horror! Hell, with a Kickstarter campaign and some talented hands, it could still be. It’s as likely as Hulk Hogan playing the dad in a(nother) remake of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, but it’s fun to think of what could have been. Speaking of what could have been…

Hey! I finally made it to episode 100! It only took me… gimme a sec here…

Three and a half years. Shit. That’s an average of 2-3 reviews per month. Double shit. Billy Bass Osiris damn me and whatever wacky fantasy scenario I’m using today to stunt double for my real life personal hindrances. Oh well. I’ve got a pot of chili and a copy of Cannibal Killer Clowns on Dope calling my name with their siren song, so let’s hurry this up and just say it’s a case of quality over quantity.

Moral of the Story: If you ever want to get out of a mental institute alive, never question the sanity of the staff.

On the topic of superior quality, go treat yourself to some more RussellMania from our fellow Zeroes!



Checkpoint Telstar summons The Devils

Cinemasochist Apocalypse goes all Gothic

Micro-Brewed Reviews experiments with Altered States

The Terrible Claw Reviews excavates The Lair of the White Worm

Web of the Big Damn Spider courts The Boy Friend

Screenshots_____


I envision a lawsuit by the Estate of Edgar Allan Poe against the Estate of Ken Russell as presided over by the Estate of Judge Wopner here, in ‘The Dead Peoples’ Court’.


See, shit like that is why you’ll never get me within a mile of a LASIK office!


“I have to say, when my wife said she’d gotten me that reverse-gangbang I’d always wanted for my birthday, I wasn’t expecting… well… this. Oh well, let’s make the best of it, girls!”


Yes, kids, Ken Russell as a literal dick nose.


Scary Movie prop mask purchased from Marlon Wayans’ “Fund the next A Haunted House sequel” yard sale.


The New Slash Co. Mark 12 collection of knives! They’ll cut through shoe leather, a soda can and a full-sized rhinoceros, and STILL sever a human head like it were a ripe tomato without a single sharpening! I’d buy that for a dollar!


What? You’ve never been to a white trash Eyes Wide Shut party before?


My sex shed is way nicer than theirs!


“With the Psychic Readers Network, you can get in touch with the Egyptian gods for advice on life, love, and lucky lottery numbers for just $2.99 per minute! Call me NOW!”


Saint Polident – the Patron Saint of Denture Cleansers and veteran of the 100 Years Crusade against the kingdom of the Cavity Creeps.


And this is why I never trust elderly women in lingerie who ask me if I want to “smell their flower”.


A scene from Annie Sprinkle’s long-since-banned educational video for elementary school children on how bees pollinate flowers.


My attempts at bringing my own Frankensteinian meatloaf man to life didn’t go as I had hoped… at least he made for some delicious leftovers!


The only surviving still from a proposed 1992 reboot of Planet of the Apes that, I think we can all agree, would have probably been too awesomely reprehensible for this world anyway.


Alright! The Better Homes and Gardens annual “DIY Funerary Displays on a Budget” issue is out! They printed my article in this one!


In 1997, Nintendo introduced the first “rumble” function for video game controllers, causing them to vibrate as a form of sensory feedback for players to help increase their immersion in the games. 20 years after the introduction of vibrating controllers, females now make up nearly 50% of video gamers. Coincidence? My eye.

———————————————————
———————————————————

Anubis will return next time in
“Guess Who’s Dying at Dinner”

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

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

Advertisements

Episode 20 – Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies (2012)

or “The Great Emancipator (of Heads)”


Featuring: 
Bill “Krampus the Christmas Devil” Oberst Jr. , Jason “Gut” Vail , Baby “Just Go 4 It” Norman

Director:  Richard “A Diva’s Christmas Carol” Schenkman

Writers:  Karl “Karl’s In a Coma” Hirsch , J. Lauren Proctor , Richard “A Diva’s Christmas Carol” Schenkman

Origin: USA

Review_____

A man divided against himself cannot stand.”

“Hey, if you want me to take a dump in a box and mark it guaranteed, I will. I got spare time.” We all remember that brilliant line from Tommy Boy, delivered by the late and (sometimes) great Chris Farley. Well, if The Asylum were ever in the market for a fitting motto, there it is. Change the “me” to “us”, the “I”s to “we”s, and you’ve got a pretty apt description of their mission statement. If anybody reading this happens to work at the Sticky’s All-You-Can-Eat Pizza Hole and Waste Management Facility where the Asylum big wigs hold their board meetings, float that out there like a morning turd in the toilet bowl. I promise that at least one of them will offer you a job in their marketing division!

When I announced to my friends that I’d be reviewing today’s guaranteed dump (originally intended to be reviews for President’s Day until, well, I didn’t), everyone who knew what I was talking about replied that they’d turned it off at varying points in the running time. Not only did NO ONE make it to the end credits (fun bit of irony for a horror movie), but the general consensus of tolerance levels were in the 20-30 minute range. Was there a particular “ground zero” moment that drove these viewers in droves to hit the Stop button and walk away, or was it a steady poisoning of their systems and 20-30 minutes of such contamination was the point of saturation? This isn’t just a movie review now…this is science!

This bucket of bowel movements is Asylum’s rip-off of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Rather than being based on a book though, ALvZ is based on a crumpled napkin an Asylum writer found sitting in the alley behind his basement apartment. Encrusted with the remnants of cheap margaritas and even cheaper tacos, it no doubt fell out of the dumpster belonging to the Tex-Mex restaurant under which he lived. Amidst the multi-colored stains, some scribblings that may or may not have stated “steal both” baffled the alleged scribe, until he looked to his coffee table. Seeing a copy of “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” he’d borrowed from a friend sitting next to a DVD of Curse of the Cannibal Confederates given to him by his parents as a high school graduation present, a new Asylum feature was born. In a bit of personal experimentation, rather than have a shred of hope that ALvZ is going to be anything but the standard issue Asylum carnival of stupid, I went into this viewing with my expectations squarely in the john. Then I remembered that, again, this is a fucking Asylum movie, so I took my expectations out of the nice porcelain pot they were bobbing in, and instead tossed them into the infamous crapper from the pub in Trainspotting. Perfect. Now, as Dr. Clayton Forrester would say, let the experiment…BEGIN!

…oh poopy.

Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves, united the states, taught himself to read with a shovel (or something), and wrestled bears…though as more is uncovered about the secret life of our 16th president, those “bears” may be more in line with the gay community’s definition than Wild America’s. One of the things not covered in his illustrious upbringing is the apparent 1818 boyhood trauma of his mother’s transformation…into a zombie(!)…after she was attacked by them in the forest(!)…because…reasons!? Whatever brought this about, Abe’s dad couldn’t muster the gumption to kill his zombie wife, so he put a bullet in his own brain instead (great parenting, asshole, leaving your kids alone with a ghoul for a mom), tasking young Abe with the duty of decapitating dear mother Nancy himself. He did so with a scythe, which just supports my lifelong plan to live near farm country, providing me plenty of tool sheds and shotguns to pilfer when the zombiegeddon finally gets its lazy ass in gear.

We jump ahead to the summer of 1863. The year James Plimpton patented the four-wheeled roller skate, the first underground train opened in London, and Thomas Crapper invents the one-piece pedestal flushing toilet. Spoiler alert: that last one is an incredibly appropriate piece of info for what’s about to happen here. Meanwhile, The American Civil War rages on as Southerners fight for the right to continue claiming black people as tax-exempt property. Abe’s all grown up and Presidential, in charge of keeping the nation in one piece. He’s also become Bill Oberst, who’s locked in perpetual Lloyd Bridges mode for the extent of the movie. An important lynchpin to winning the war of gray vs. blue is capturing and maintaining the strategic point of Fort Polaski and controlling the Mississippi River. But, after sending a regiment to take Polaski under the banner of “Operation Big Shanty”, only one soldier returned alive…and his skin’s looking grayer than Robert E. Lee’s Sunday best. No sooner does he report to President Lincoln that Big Shanty went FUBAR due to a contingency of flesh eating maniacs residing in the fort, he then turns into one of the man munching monsters himself. Having had experience with the not-so-demised before (Mommy Mommy, choppy choppy), Lincoln fends off the zombie until a lackey can retrieve his trusty folding scythe from his carriage…that he just happens to carry with him…despite having never seen another zombie in the 45 years since relieving his mother’s use for bonnets…okay.

The president’s new “secret service” team is assembled to clear out and reclaim Polaski to both swing the Civil War in the Union’s favor and wipe out the living dead scourge before it can spread like so much shit water from the clogged toilet in a Taco Bell bathroom. They really need to put limits on the amount of food one customer can order. Unless they’re getting it “to go”, in which case they can put their own crapper in jeopardy. Let’s just say I’ve heard horror stories and will never be able to look at a Taco Bell Party Pack again without igniting my gag reflex. Blart. Anyway, when the Major assigned to lead the group is killed by the ghoul, Abe appoints himself the new leader of the task force, citing his “prior experience” with the disease as his leading asset…because just telling a new leader that the disease is spread through bites, and that the only way to kill them is decapitation or burning them would waste valuable time…and because I guess he figured Andrew Johnson was gonna replace him eventually anyway!

Proving that he practiced what he preached, Lincoln’s Suicide Squad (or “Task Force X” if you’re nerd enough) includes one black agent, who could only be given a position on a top secret operation due to the potential political controversy if the public knew their government employed a black man. Hence the term “black op” was born, and the rest is made-up history that you school-aged readers probably shouldn’t reference for any history reports. Also, the black dude’s there so he can bring the term “zombie” into the mix later on, given the term’s Haitian origin, and lay out the irony of enslaved people owning slaves themselves, albeit dead ones. The Abe Brigade also includes an interesting member that eventually leads to one of the solitary good kernels of corn in this shit log of a crap-ass cash-in effort, so I won’t spoil who it is. All I’ll say is that it adds an interesting re-visioning to the President’s ill-fated future as an unsuccessful theater critic. If you want to find out the mystery prize in this box of Cocoa Poops though, you’ll have to earn it yourself and bury your hands in up to the elbows. Whether it’s worth the challenge to your tolerance levels will vary from person to person, but let me remind you–-I’m the only person I know who actually saw this cinematic skid mark through to its dingle-berry bedazzled end.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself here, when I’d much rather be getting myself head. Wakka wakka! Lincoln leads his logs (not an actual joke, just a needless pun) to Polaski, and with the exception of a few fodder agents who end up as bite victims, the good guys do well at clearing out the shuffling maggot manufactories, mostly thanks to Mr. Lincoln and his newly revealed deadly arts of leap-‘n’-slash-fu. I really need to commission Osiris for one of those short-arm folding blade scythes. It’d shave much needed hours off of my reaping schedule and leave me with a lot more time to review… Asylum… movies… fuuuuuuuuuuck. Never mind. Securing the fort (which was mostly secure already, until Lincoln’s men attracted zombies into the place with their gunfire), the Secret Service finds a small group of Rebels holed up in the basement, led by famed southern military strategist General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. Not to be confused with county music man Stonewall Jackson, who sang “Waterloo” and “BJ the DJ” (not about what its title implies), though that was the musicians real name and he did claim to be a descendant of the original. Everyone immediately thinks I’m related to David Bowie despite how we spell and pronounce our last names differently. I do like to sometimes claim that Tandy Bowen (Dagger of “Cloak & Dagger”) is my cousin though, despite the fact that she’s a completely fictional character… plus I’d feel really gross for doing the knuckle shuffle to someone who’s actually my cousin… and don’t bring up the irony of how the Egyptian mythological pantheon was full of incest anyway. That was a different time, and I’m not about to take the “racist grandparents” excuse and chalk it up to being “from a different time”. Cork it.

Stonewall (and his HUGE, super fake, glued-on beard) surrenders himself and his remaining men to Lincoln’s Logs (just let me have this!), but refuses to agree with the president that the soldiers and civilians he just got done beheading were necessary casualties. Stoney PlayStation 4 (okay, that one was just to boost search engine hits, I’ll cop) is convinced that the recently diseased/deceased are just in need of medical treatment, and Honest Abe’s just a murder happy maniac looking to take out his “reverse racism” hate on the slavery lovin’ southerners. This from a time period where a shot-off toe resulted in a full leg amputation for fear of the spread of gangrene, yet this knob thinks that a ravenous full-body cannibal infection can somehow be fixed with snake oil and coal water. Must be all that inbreeding. Sorry to offend any southern readers, but stop breeding with your kin. If we deities can help ourselves, so can you, damn it. You just have to want to. If nothing else, do it for the sideshow of tormented offspring you would’ve conceived that would one day grow up to turn on you and burn you all alive in your trailer to wipe the blight of your broken genetic legacy from the face of the Earth. Long-term investments, Cletus.

Fun fact: the name Cletus/Cleatus is of Greek origins, and means “illustrious”. Meanwhile, the modernized definition would be “slack jawed yokel” or “football playing robot that murdered the Burger King”.

Locking the uncooperative grays up, the blues secure the fort in typical zombie movie DIY style. In the basement they find and are overrun by a gaggle of hungry corpses. While escaping into an already boarded up section of the fort, they find another small group of survivors. Shit, this has to be one of the biggest speaking casts for an Asylum movie EVER…which would explain why they all act about as well as a real movie’s background extras. Anyway, this new group is led, conveniently enough, by Abe’s prostitute ex-girlfriend Mary Owens (played by the unfortunately named Baby Norman), and includes a young boy from New York who was separated from his family and ended up there during the outbreak. I won’t spoil who the boy is, but let’s just say that Abe encourages him to avoid attracting the zombies by speaking in a soft tone, and defend himself from them with the use of a sizable length of timber. And yes, if you have a basic knowledge of American political history (or you too watched that Bugs Bunny cartoon where he ran for office opposite Yosemite Sam), your brain probably just vomited acid all over itself in a desperate bid for oblivion too.

Okay, so we’ve got the zombie movie staples all in play – a group of survivors with conflicting viewpoints, both moral and political, some of whom share a rocky personal past, all of which are trapped together in a confined space while a seemingly endless mob of extras in halfway decent Halloween costumes shamble around outside, waiting to pick off the slow, impatient, and unlucky over the next 45 minutes or so. It’s like some big metaphor for the war itself, or humanity itself, or the 1600 or so living dead movies that came before it themselves. Will Abe be able to bring these opposing factions of uninfected together before their so-called “moralities” lead them all to losing their own heads, figuratively at first, then literally afterward? Will you care enough to find out? If nothing else, I suggest firing it up on Netflix and fast-forwarding to the last 10 minutes. That way you can get the whimsical ending and avoid all of the stupid shit the self-proclaimed “writers” culled from a junior high American History textbook to denigrate into goofy characters and bastardized action movie one-liners.

Being an Asylum secretion, watching ALvZ is like juggling a half-dozen water balloons full of diarrhea: you know you’re gonna get shit all over you, and the best you can hope for is that none of it’s infected with anything more dangerous than a level 6 gross-out contamination, and that you lose nothing more than a ruined outfit and a bit of self-esteem. The shit balloon bursts all over us with computer generated blood, dismemberment, explosions, and gun flashes (because squibs and blanks aren’t “cost effective”). We also get splattered with a bleached out visual filter to either push the impression that the movie takes place in olden times, or just helps cover up the sloppy CG gore. (Not to be confused with AD Gore, proprietor of satans-sideshow.com, who supplied much of my wardrobe in high school.) Also running down our faces and pooling in our pockets are Asylum’s staples: bad acting (no surprise), bad script (also no surprise), bad audio (I had to watch it with subtitles on so I wouldn’t have to wear out the volume buttons on my remote), bad lighting (to further cover up the bad CG effects), and bad dance-fight choreography of Lincoln jumping around like the world’s oldest action hero (minus Schwarzenegger and Stallone, who’re both older than the secret sex dungeon under the Appomattox courthouse). It’s all silly. Not a fun silly, but a hemorrhoid silly…because it’s uncomfortable… and itchy…and I don’t fucking know! You try writing something even remotely witty while some F-grade movie hacks’ weekend of work farts in your face!

Aside from the ending, the only thing that saves this movie from total damnation in Ammut’s cornhole is Oberst’s oddly decent portrayal of Lincoln. Sure, the goofy scythe-fu stuff can cause aneurisms if viewed for too long without proper protection, and the painful out-of-context historical quotes turned one-liners could lacerate kidneys, and if you close your eyes you’d swear Admiral Benson was about to tell you about how he lost his eyes to a bazooka round at Little Big Horn (or was it Okinawa?), but when Oberst actually gets to make inspirational speeches like the Great Emancipator was known for, he’s pretty damn effective. Not exactly Bill Pullman’s speech from Independence Day, or Raymond Burr’s ending soliloquy from Godzilla 1985, but if Billy O can bring even a sliver of credence to a shit cauldron like Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies, then the dude deserves his Daytime Emmy Award…though that’s like winning a gold medal at the Special Olympics, so don’t put too much credence in my use of the word “credence”.

By the way, if the amount of fecal and/or toilet allusions in this review seem like a bit much to you, you should really stop expecting better of me. When dealing with an Asylum production, a reviewer becomes the sewage treatment plant worker of the movie criticism field – knee deep in waste matter for the length of the effort. It’s a minor miracle if we can keep from killing ourselves after the first few times on the job, let alone just swearing off them for life. Reviewers of Asylum movies are like Ed Norton (the character, not the actor), except our best friends aren’t spousal abusers (hopefully) and we lack the televised medium to benefit from slapstickery and goofy voices, so we’re stuck relying on whatever creative writing we can muster. Forgive me if the majority of creative metaphors I can come up with are shit related, but once you’ve got an Asylum feature’s stench saturating your every pore and follicle, it’s hard to think of much else. I need a heavy dose of anti-venom (viewings of Re-Animator or Return of the Living Dead usually do the trick) just to keep me out of a coma.

That said (with about 50 more words than needed), it’s all the more upsetting that our next episode will be ANOTHER Asylum feature! Has my cinemasochism reached new, dangerous heights from which no sane man or man-dog deity can possibly return unscathed?! Gird your loins and girdle your lions (if you have any) and tune in for what’s bound to be another 5 pages of furious/flaccid shit slinging! Same Anubis time, same Anubis channel! *ONOMATOPOEIA!*

Moral of the Story: The Confederate flag is no longer the most offensive hold over from the American Civil War.

Screenshots_____

I see the guy responsible for the title graphics hasn’t figured how “stroke” or “highlight” works on text layers. At least make the blood a lighter tone than the damn words!


Kids, if your father looks like this every time he tries to shave, do NOT let him teach you how when you hit puberty.


You know The Asylum’s hit big money time when they can afford enough Miller High Life to pay that many Civil War reenactment actors.


“You might wanna pull it back a little on the buttons, soldier. You’re not Steve Harvey.”


“I’m sorry Mr. President. I understand that you want to bring an end to this war, but I’m Santa Claus! I can’t withhold presents from the good Confederate children on Christmas just because you think it will stop the bloodshed!”


“Hey Jackson, what do you call a thousand coloreds at the bottom of the ocean?”
“If you finish that statement, I will kill you now and seduce your wife at your funeral.”
“… Sorry. I didn’t know you were so ‘politically correct’.”


Lincoln’s got his “serious business” stovepipe on. If this were a Robert Rodriguez movie, that thing would be full of pistols and dynamite.


Dear Isis, no! They killed Chris Elliot! Now we’ll never get another season of “Eagleheart“! You bastards!


The Asylum’s poor spending of the lighting budget to buy more zombie makeup ends up working in our favor by obscuring EVERYTHING. If only all of their movies could be shot by lantern light!


“You may be a high ranking General, but I’m the fucking president! NO ONE gets to have a bigger beard than mine, damn it! Shave it off, or I’ll rip it from your god damned jaw myself!”


Is he doing his Edward G. Robinson impression, or is he trying to eat an entire sandwich in one mouthful? History may never know.


“I’m no doctor, ladies, but I think the best thing to stop my bleeding wound would be to plug it with your ample boobs. Boob fat is very malleable and would mold to the shape of the wound. But… you know… if you want me to just bleed to death on your floor, I guess you don’t have to.”


“And what’s the deal with this Mason-Dixon Line anyway? I mean, who are these people?! Am I right?! Thank you, you’ve been a terrible audience. Remember to tip your waitress.”


They’re trying not to look at his dollar store mustache, otherwise they’ll laugh and the producers will make them pay for the re-shoot.


I’m no lumberjack, Beard-O, but I’m pretty sure that’s not how you hold a hatchet…


Michael Cera’s creepy dad scrapes a booger from a sleeping woman’s face.

Anubis will return next time in
“The Sixty Dollar Man”

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

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

Bill “Krampus the Christmas Devil” Oberst Jr. , Jason “Gut” Vail , Baby “Just Go 4 It” Norman