Feature 107 – The Quiet Ones (2014)

or “Silent But Deadly”

Featuring: Olivia “‘Bates Motel’” Cooke , Sam “The Hunger Games” Claflin , Jared “‘Mad Men’” Harris

Director: John “Quarantine 2: the Terminal” Pogue

Writers: John “Ghost Ship” Pogue , Craig “The Uninvited” Rosenberg , Tom “The Hallow” de Ville , Oren “I’m Not There.” Moverman

Origin: UK

Review_____

“Killing a young woman is a wonderful way to create a ghost.”

For those wondering the cause of my latest absence, it all started last year when my court mandated hypnotherapist told me to explore the world and meet new people. I thought she said explode the world and eat new people and, well, let’s just say I had a very awkward several month stay in Germany… Further stymieing my return, the spray-tan-scrotum-golem-in-chief’s racist travel ban made it impossible for an Egyptian Death God/Dog to get back into the US by “conventional” means. Anyway, with all of that behind me, here we are! Did I miss anything while I was MIA? Never mind. I don’t care. Hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s back to reviewing I go!

The flick heralding my glorious return to cinema nitpicking is yet another from the ever-swelling sub-genre of “Inspired by actual events” movies. How inspired? As is often the case, only enough to establish a basic foundation for a house of lies.

The actual event in question is a little-known 1972 mental spelunking designated, “The Phillip Experiment”. Headed by a Canadian mathematician (because nobody knows horror like someone whose life revolves around numbers) named A.R.G. Owen (“ARGO”?), it attempted to prove Dr. “Uncle” Owen’s theory that supernatural phenomenon was the result of human psychology and that the supposed specters of the restless deceased (i.e. ghosts) are just a case of shared hallucinations between peers. In testing said population postulation, ARGO gathered a handful of educated associates and the group created a fictional character named Phillip (hence the title), complete with his own made-up background. Once Phil’s character sheet was filled out (I’m guessing he was a half-orc rogue with a Chaotic Neutral alignment), the group went about holding a “seance” to try and Witchboard the imaginary spirit into existence. When their first attempt flopped, they spookied up the second effort like a cheap Halloween spook house and sure enough: *BOOM!* so much spooky shit hit the fan that they needed to pressure wash the walls after.

Despite this supposed evidence to support ARGO’s hypothesis, why aren’t the results of the experiment globally acknowledged as the official debunking of every ghost story ever told? While the majority of the scientific community would rather point out the numerous flaws with the experiment’s execution, we all know that nightmare fuel sells, so consider it an assassination job by the horror industry and the collective con-men (and con-women) who make their livings off of “reuniting people with their dead family members” and making TV shows where nobody actors pretend to be “paranormal experts” yelling at “ghosts” in front of night vision cameras!

Well, that covers the educational portion of the review. Now that I’ve guaranteed a few more weeks of grant funding from The CHUD Group (taking “based on actual events” movies to task since 1984!), allow me to hang up my mortar board and don my rubber monster mask. It greatly obscures my vision and puts me at a heightened danger of asphyxia, but it gets me in the proper mindset for movie mockery…and it scares the shit out of the cats too! Mwa-ha-ha-ha.

Across the pond, in the merry old England of 1974, Oxford University professor Joseph Coupland (Jared Harris playing the missing link between Frasier Crane’s brother and Hellboy’s adopted father) fills in the role of “curmudgeonly old science type who will sacrifice as many underlings as need be in the desperate effort to prove his crackpot theories”. He gets things rolling by familiarizing his upper class rich kid students with an experiment he himself conducted, centered around curing a mentally disturbed subject known only as “David Q”, a barely pubescent lad with a penchant for making drawings, not unlike Mike Myers’ reoccurring “SNL” character Simon. Pretty normal, right? Except that his refrigerator disasterworks were of a spooky creepozoid he called “Mr. Gregor”, based on a character from one of his dear old dad’s bedtime stories. If you’re thinking of Peter Rabbit’s arch-nemesis, that’s Mr. McGregor, who is slightly less horrifying. Anyway, according to DQ, this Weight Watchers Uncle Fester is “the man that makes things happen”. Unlike Edward “A Man Who Makes Things Happen” Collins, Mr. G’s talents didn’t involve integral advances to the state of Texas’ infrastructure. His “things” were more in the realm of poltergeist-ian happenings around young David that had those close to him believing he was a better candidate for an exorcism than a session on a shrink’s leather couch.

One of Coupland’s mentees (not manatees…though that would make for an interesting twist) decries his work as blasphemous and abandons the class since “Revenant Remonstration” wasn’t listed in the syllabus. I wonder if “conflict with religious beliefs” is a refundable excuse when dropping a subject… Charley Church is pretty much alone in his condemnation though, so Professor Joey Joe Joe had little trouble already convincing two of his suck-up-iest students to help him further his hunt for a cure to a condition that 99% of whose victims only exist in cheap horror flicks still trying to cash in on the popularity of The Exorcist.

Krissi (Erin Richards) is an attention magnet female caricature of a character who gets off on men wanting to engage in sexual congress with her. In a modern setting, she’d be one of those “bi for the guys” types who makes out with other women in bars just so they’ll be in the center of the testosteronal spotlight. She initially tried to sign up for the project as the test subject because she’s “so crazy”, but having father abandonment issues and severe jealousy isn’t what Coupland was looking for, so Krissi tags along to assist and observe. On a related note, Graa-Muhr – the Sumerian god demon that lives in my Speak & Spell and spellchecks my words – has declared spelling that name with an ‘i’ as a heretical act. As such, I’ll be calling her “Kris” for the remainder of my bemused musings. Over and out.

Harry (Rory Fleck-Byrne) is a pretty persona non interessante in his own right, there to experience what he thinks will be a milestone in all kinds of sciences without providing any real catalyst to the goings-on. He’s also Kris’ current partner in the synchronized mattress gymnastics routine, so expect standard “relationship complications” between the pair in a quarter-hearted effort to make them both seem less two-dimensional. As for the study’s star, she’s an afflicted/conflicted young woman named Jane Harper (Olivia Cooke). Miss Harper is a suicidal amnesiac with “off the charts” brain wave frequencies whose only known past consists of being an unwilling passenger of the British foster care system, hot potato-ed like a human dybukk box from home to home because of her tendency for paranormal “redecoration” in every home she was placed. Claiming she’s not responsible for the destruction left in her wake, the girl (well, woman, as she’s 24 according to my math) insists that another personality named Evey (pronounced like the Pokemon Evee, and not like “every” minus the ‘r’) is to blame. Professor Coupy hypothesizes that Evey is a delusion created by his little guinea pig and is determined to harvest her telekinetic havoc by “trapping” the imaginary friend inside of a doll, thus giving Evey her own physical form, thus making a name for himself in the annals of crackpot horror movie mad science history and likely dooming himself and his cohorts to be menaced and murdered Talking Tina style.


(Run, Bojack! Uhm, I mean, Kojak. Run, Kojak!)

To achieve his goal, Coupland (who’s not nearly as magical as Disneyland) keeps Calamity Jane locked up in an apartment where she’s mentally tormented around every little minute line of the proverbial clock. The theory is that depriving her of sleep and subjecting her to blaring renditions of Slade’s “Cum on Feel the Noize” will stress her to the point of a veritable breakdown, releasing the Dark Hadou within. Given what we’ve seen from shit like Firestarter, Scanners and Akira, this isn’t going to end well for anyone.

Now, until this movie, the only rendition of “Cum on Feel the Noize” (or “CoFtN” as true fans know it) I had been aware of was the version Quiet Riot would cover ten years later for their album Metal Health. So, if nothing else, The Quiet Ones will always be remembered for me as the movie that completely reconfigured the Rubix Cube that is my casual enjoyment of ’80s hair metal. Hell, maybe it’ll help you score a couple points and some free mozzarella planks next time you hit up trivia night at the pub! You’re welcome.

In need of someone to chronicle his self-professed history-in-the-making project, the morally malleable pedagogue employs an independent filmmaker (i.e. someone in the Oxford AV Department, so the Prof wouldn’t need to pay a deposit on the equipment) named Brian (Sam Claflin) to immortalize it all on film…or as “immortal” as a highly volatile medium like film can be, at least. Unlike Harry & Kris, Bri’s a member of the working class, born of society’s lower crust and only “attends” the prestigious palace of higher learning in as much as the people who scrub the toilets do. He’s the movie’s be-sideburned every-man that the general audience can relate to while the other three push the ambiguity of the audience’s presumptive precepts, thus digging their own graves.

In other words, Brian’s the good guy.

In a neat little bit of trivia, it turns out that some of the POV scenes were actually shot by Claflin to add a pinch of authenticity to them. Groovy.

This crew of would-be pioneers in brain science blatherskite don’t get very far into their sadism before being forced to leave the flat-turned-dungeon after one too many calls to the Bobbies by a buzzkill neighbor who just doesn’t appreciate incorrectly spelled songs about girls rocking their boys. Following said run-in with the law (cue Steve Sax and his misadventures in the Springfield softball scene), Dr. Smarty Pants’ funding gets cut off faster than a male Skywalker’s hand. With the coffers of higher learning no longer picking up the tab on their trauma loft and sadism fetish footage, the gang relocate to an old mansion in the countryside that’s straight out of the Oxfordshire Chainsaw Massacre.


“Pip pip, fish and chips. Dog will hunt and all that bother.”

Bry’s also forced to downgrade his film to a cheaper stock to accommodate their now out-of-pocket adventure, or so he says. This claim is inconsistent with the movie though, as the footage with this “cheaper stock” somehow becomes cleaner during the important footage, only to revert back to crappier quality during the group’s “behind the scenes” downtime footage. Not really something to condemn the movie to the gallows for, just a (thumbtack-in-the-)\footnote for our fellow pickers of nit out there in the world wide waste.

In between Jane’s “counseling sessions” (basically more harassment, but with festive novelty trance party lights), typical British ’70s sexpot Kris carries out makeout session with both Harry and Professor Jojo, because we didn’t have enough reasons to be revolted by dirty Dunkirk grandpa before this. While that unsettling game of Love Triangle Twister plays out, our simple hero Brian finds himself struggling with his own twenty-something loin boiling. Not one to take on anyone’s sludgy thirds, his attention ends up getting glued to the carpenter’s dream in the padded cell, who makes no secret about lusting for the handsome cameraman herself. Or are those impure thoughts the work of dirty-minded mental squatter Evey’s hidden valley? Either or, never underestimate the panty-dropping appeal of a tight set of sideburns, folks!


(Uncut folicular sex, right there.)

These new found feelings for (feeling) Jane lead to Brian contaminating the experiment when he disrupts one of the torture sessions, just as Coupland was on the verge of (or so he says) forcing Evey to finally manifest and relocated into Jane’s toy doll. Following the incident, Brier Rabbit starts to question the legitimacy of the experiments, convinced that he’s being played for a fool and this is all going to end up on an episode of Punk’d in 30 years. His search for corroborating proof results in, well, let’s call it “unfortunate evidence to the contrary” to spare too many details, and he realizes the happenings happening are very much real, much like the danger to his new love interest. Kris too voices her concerns for Jane’s welfare, but much more easily silenced than Brian, i.e. with the old man’s tongue down her throat. BLART! However, Special K starts getting jealous of all the attention Jane/Evey gets from the Prof and wants to end the experiment, meeting with consequences of her own. And Harry? Who cares. I don’t and neither should you.

Inhuman as it may seem though, are Dr. Shit Pickle’s edumacated presumptions of Jane’s condition accurate? Is he really the only person that can save her from herself? Is E-V really just a voice echoing in the woman’s head, or is Coupland’s self-proclaimed debunking of the supernatural doomed to its own debunkening? Will he redeem his appearance as a hideous excuse for a human being by bringing peace to her suffering soul and countless others’ (well, maybe a dozen across the globe) by curing whatever fucking pyrokinetic multiple personality disorder is going on here?! Naturally, shit gets out of hand, and the final 20 or so minutes amp up the manic panic with more twists that a contortionist possessed by Pazuzu! But, since this flick’s still underage in regards to my Rule of Five, I won’t spoil them here. I will tell you this much: the Talking Heads would approve of the experiment’s end result.


(My science fair project, “Shit: How to Tell If It’s Getting Out of Hand”)

The backstory behind The Quiet Ones extends beyond just its looser-than-lunchmeat interpretation of “true events”. For those out there who were unaware, it’s also one of the final movies produced by Hammer Films. Yes, that Hammer Films… no, not M.C. Hammer Films, which was never a thing, no matter how hard we got to pray just to make it today. Anyway, yeah, almost 30 years after the original studio shutdown in the wake of waning gains, a Dutchie by the name of John De Mol bought the rights to the UK house of horrors and its 300+ movie properties. His intention was to stir the smoldering ashes in hopes of finding a few hot coals with which to re-spark the company’s status as a bastion of unique scares for people seeking an alternative to the same old slashers and more-of-the-same monsters. Over the seven year period following their first release (a MySpace exclusive micro-series called Beyond the Rave), Hammer was responsible for putting out the English remake of Let the Right One In, The Resident, Wake Wood, a post-Potter Danny Radcliffe starring in The Woman in Black, and The Quiet Ones before presumably bowing out with 2014’s The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death.

I’m by no means a Hammer-Head. Of the bulging back catalog they boast, my exposure to said selection has been the occasional installment of Chris Lee’s Drac Race and random weirdness like X the Unknown. I don’t question their appeal, nor the tastes of their sizable fan base, I’m just not foaming at the mouth for old British renditions of public domain monster mashes. Now that I think about it though, I’d down a whole bowl of Egyptian style prairie oysters (think camels instead of cattle) if it meant getting a Terry Gilliam directed revamp of House of Dracula. Somebody jump start the Kickstarter machine, stat!

As I was saying before so rudely interrupting myself (with a fucking brilliant idea – you’re welcome), I am no Hammer die hard(er), thus I have no truly viable opinion on how The Quiet Ones stacks up to the previous studio’s legacy. Judging it on its own merits as a stand alone horror flick though, I licked it! Errr, liked it. Liked it!

Unlike Quarantine 2, John “probably doesn’t know Shane McGowen” Pogue’s interspersing of shaky “found footage” cam within the frame of a traditional point-and-shoot movie both fits the theme and manages to not feel nearly as shoe-horned up the audience’s collective colon. The “faux film filter” of the documentary footage is actually pretty well done, setting it apart from the crisp, vibrant look of the rest of the flick. It’s not a perfect replacement for the real thing, but in the wake of digital media, I’m pretty sure actual film is harder to wrangle these days than an Adam Sandler NetFlix release that doesn’t make me want to throw myself into a thresher while watching it. Despite advances in technology though, it’s too bad the CGI effects aren’t nearly as well done, even under the obscuring veil of said filters. Our eyes are metaphorically poked by a digitally rendered “teleplasma” tentacle that couldn’t rouse a twitch in the taint of even the most perverted hentai viewer if its programmer’s life depended on it. An odd scenario that I’m not even sure I could conjure up a feasible setup for, but I said it, like it or lump it. That said, any movie lover worth their weight in salt water taffy knows that you need to temper your expectations around a flick’s finances, so a lesser budget production like The Quiet Ones doesn’t take much of a hit for less-than-stellar visuals. Less a hit, in fact, and more of a tickle. To the armpits. Not long enough to break out into fisticuffs, though. Or lead to any awkward sexual tension…?

And by that I mean, uhm, how about that cast!

Jared Harris plays a perfectly good stodgy old British learn-ed type, giving Old Man Coupland apropos gravitas, charisma and sleaziness in even measure, gradually growing his drive for the experiment into
an uncomfortable obsession without going into full-on over-the-top James Bond super-villainy. Olivia Cooke also does an admirable job of taking Jane between a suffering child that’s a magnet for the audience’s empathy and an uncomfortably aggressive deviant desperate to have her hot pocket stuffed. It’s a performance that’s made all the more upsetting by Cooke’s jailbait appearance, not looking nearly all of the 24 years of Jane’s age thanks to her do-it-herself haircut, barely-there bust, and the fact that she was only NINETEEN at the time of filming. Sam Claflin’s Brian is good enough as the well-meaning hero burdened with doing the job he’s been hired for or doing what his moral compass (and groinal compass) tells him he should. It’s not a meaty role, really. “Brian” is not a part comparable to the thespian equivalent of a Triple Meat Lover’s Meats-a-Treats-a-Rotti Deluxe (Lumberjack style) from Meat Sweat Marco’s All Animals Great and Small Buffet. But, for what it is, Claflin earns his paycheck.

Richards and Fleck-Byrne, though a great name for a Vaudeville act, are just kinda there as Kris and Harry respectively. She’s attractive, he’s a doofus, they fit the parts, end of story. “No small parts”? Go butt-chug some arsenic, Stanislavski.

A quick glance at the official Hammer site (hammerfilms.com) tells me that they’re still working on various projects, despite their movie production slowing to an almost complete halt. They’re currently holding English style horror stage plays in London, curiously enough, but did mention that as of October of last year they’re working on a new movie-to-be called The Lodge. Despite its fairly poor critical reception and a few plot hole potholes (having FOUR writers will do that) that could’ve been filled-in to make the ride smoother, The Quiet Ones was enjoyable enough to this particular Death God Dog to put this new(ish) version of the old company into my vision cone. Whether I opt to review them or not, I’ve got an interest in tracking down the handful of Q1s‘s fellow Neo-Hammer creations now, so good on you, sirs and madams.

Now, if you’ll excuse me (and even if you won’t), I flushed something that looked like a brown version of the titular terrorizer of Chuck Band’s Parasite this morning and should probably inform the local Water & Sewer Department before it starts laying eggs and making indecent proposals to Demi Moore…

Cheerio and bugger off, ya blighters and bints!

Moral of the Story: There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio Caine, than are dreamt of in your abnormal abnormal psychology. Like haunted horny harlots!

Screenshots_____


“Hey, what are you… Damn it! STOP THAT! What is it with you Millenials and this fucking fascination with rimjobs!? Do you think that’s where Tide Pods come from?!”


If someone at Warner Bros. ever wanted to make a live-action “Wacky Races” movie, there’s your Penelope Pitstop.


A new documentary finally reveals just what is Behind the Green Door. And it’s… a green… room? Huh. Looks like someone’s getting their grant money revoked.


Wednesday Addams learns the terrifying truth of the world outside of the family fortune: studio apartments, minimum wage, and having your power shut off because you just HAD to buy that $200 pair of knee high goth boots from Torrid for the Marilyn Manson concert next week instead of paying the electric bill.


“Alright, I give up. I haven’t the slightest bloody clue how to play Croquet!”


Tolgate Transportation – when you need windowless vans to relocate your ethically questionable “human abuse in the name of science” projects, think Tolgate!


This promotional picture leaves me feeling really uncomfortable for the “new direction” Disney has planned for the next season of “Girl Meets World”. Maybe they shouldn’t have handed production over to the “True Detective” people.


Oh no. Is this one of those horrifying FLDS arranged child marriages situations?! I’d rather watch snuff footage of Andy Griffith killing, sodomizing, and eating Don Knotts whole than see underaged girls gifted to their fathers’ business partners and/or religious leaders. UGGH!


Here at the Spencer’s Gift Novelty Lights Testing Facility, we make sure all of our products are just what your next rave needs to achieve peak freak out!


“I know the nuns said that the Catholic school uniform dress code was strictly enforced, Father, but all this over a Hello Kitty hair clip?!”


“Whoa there, Debbie Harry, save some for the rest of us! That shit’s supposed to last us until Thursday.”


Napoleon Dynamite’s father, Cornelius T. Dynamite, seen here in the last known photo of him before “the accident”.


Before Toys For Tots initiated their “New Unopened Items ONLY” policy on donations, this was the scene for many a tear streaked face on Christmas morning. If I ever find the person that “donated” the limbless Hordak torso I ended up with in ’91, the aftermath will make Pol Pot’s ghost vomit.


“For the love of Harry Smith, THAT’S what my colon looks like?! Where do the polyps end and my pooper begins?! I think I’m going to be sick.”

———————————————————
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Anubis will return next time in
“Adolf Hitler’s Muppet Babies”

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

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

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Feature 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.

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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.

Feature 89 – 31 (2016)

or “Send In the Clowns”

Featuring: Sherri “The Lords of Salem” Moon Zombie , Richard “DOOM” Brake , Jeff Daniel “Westworld (2016)” Phillips

Director & Writer: Rob “The Devil’s Rejects” Zombie

Origin: USA

Review_____

“I’m not here to brighten your dismal day. I am here to end your miserable fucking life!”

Hey kids! One concept I tried to get over in The Tomb’s dark age was The Zodiac of Anubis, in which every year a specific movie monster would get the annual spotlight of having a review done on their sub-genre each month. After considering resurrecting the Zodiac for the last couple o’ calendars, I’ve finally decided this is the year. As such, I bid you welcome as we begin, “The Year of the Painted Horrors”!


With the public panic about dickheads donning clown costumes and menacingly loitering around parks and wooded areas in recent weeks, I thought the pariahs of the Barnum & Bailey family would be the best subject for celebration. Per this event, every 13th day up to September 2017 will be dedicated to movies centralized on greasepainted gore makers. In a matter of cosmic coincidence, look at what just happened to release recently – a Rob Zombie movie about murderous clowns! Call it kismet, call it circumstance, whatever you call it, the Roadhouse Necromancer himself calls it 31.

Whether you’re a fan of his work or not, one thing that’s irrefutable is Zombie’s superiority to Uwe Boll. All personal opinions aside, if going by no other metric, the propagator of sinister urges clearly trumps the defiler of video game franchises when it comes to the crowdfunding arts. After a pair of failures to get his project Rampage 3 financed (first via IndieGoGo and again through Kickstarter), Boll went on a rampage of his own, throwing a fit online with a meltdown video where he basically told everyone to fuck themselves. Who would’ve thought people wouldn’t be willing to donate their money to someone who makes SHITTY movies for the purpose of making MORE shitty movies? On the other side of the coin, Rob Zombie’s FanBacked campaign netted him… an as-yet-undisclosed amount. Kinda sketchy. And I’m presuming a lot of that money came from the reward tier that included lifetime VIP passes to every Rob Zombie show, so I don’t know how accurate a gauge it is in determining the number of people who were just chomping at the bit for another installment in the Zombie filmography… BUT, whatever the case, my prior statement stands – Rob Zombie is better than Uwe Boll at crowfunding! Game over!

Some people piss and moan about crowdfunded projects, and 31 isn’t lacking in such detractors. Cries of “Pay for your own movie, loser!” ring throughout the internet, but said people are missing the point of these endeavors. The real reason for such independent efforts at collecting capital are two fold – to gauge consumer interest in such a product and to cut out the corrupting influence of deep pocket financiers. For example, I run The Tomb free of advertisements because I don’t want to be beholden to any company execs bitching at me about my offensive words and concepts, or how I should only review big movie stuff so as to up click traffic. Fucketh that. Now, I was hoping to somehow monetize the site for the purposes of having it support itself, so I put up the Patreon page to test the waters and see if these reviews and ramblings were worthwhile of readers’ pennies. Unfortunately, since I’ve yet to acquire a single contributor (even after offering exclusive Patreon only reviews to make it worth said patronage), it’s clear that I’ve yet to find an audience willing to bridge the gap between readers and customers. THIS is why 31 was made and Rampage 3 was not – there are enough people willing to put their hard earned buckets of duckets behind another Rob Zombie project than there are willing to get behind another Uwe Boll movie. Having never been in a position where I could afford to lend my support to someone else’s creative vision, I more than appreciate those who are in that position, because without them, people like myself wouldn’t be able to see the fruits of those labors. You’re doin’ the work of the gods, kids. Just don’t GoFund any magic bean gardens, cuz the only goose those’ll lead you to will be on your bank account. Insert your own “grab ’em by the pussy” joke here, because the more I have to think about that garbage, the more I die inside.

Now, what’s all this 31 stuff aboot?

In an interview with Fangoria, Zombie said that fans were pretty insistent that they wanted his next run behind the camera to be another movie focused on the trio of domestic terrorists who took center stage in his first flicks, House of 1,000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects. Instead, he opted to respond with something new. He noted that people didn’t know even know they wanted The Devil’s Rejects before the movie was made, so rather than play it fiscally safe by supplying consumers with more of what they demand, he chose to play Russian Roulette and tried to convince them to pay for something new… well, something heavily “borrowed” from other movies, but technically altered to be something new… and hopefully some big studio copyright lawyers don’t catch wind of it and attempt to sue everyone involved with its making… like Bobby Z’s philanthropic followers, perhaps? I mean, I’m no law school graduate but… actually, that means in a legal situation I have less legs to stand on than the titular heroin of Boxing Helena. Ignore me on that. The same way Horus ignored me on my birthday.

Yeah, I’m not forgetting that anytime soon. Go eat a box of uncooked Rice-A-Roni, you bird faced fuck boy.

Unlike many of his last few movies, 31 is a simple A-Z tale. Much like House of 1000 Corpses, it centers on a group of happy-go-lucky buddies, trapped in a “The Most Dangerous Game” struggle for survival against sadistic predators who revel in their perceived vulnerability. In this instance, said dangerous game isn’t man, but a literal game called “31”, because of its annual occurrence on October 31st aka Halloween. This numerical factoid was part of why so many people were sure this project was originally going to be the finale of Zombie’s Halloween trilogy, only spurred on by the use of a shabby clown mask in early promotional material. Mayhaps eluding to little Mikey Myers’ use of a clown mask when he went on his inaugural killing spree as a kid? Nope. Turns out the clown mask was just a precursor to the 31 “hunters”, who are clowns… from Satan’s 666 Ring Circus of Eternal Sin and Suffering! Formerly known as the Playboy Mansion aka Hugh Hefner’s Whore House of Soul Crushing Defilement for Rich Old Men and Washed-Up Comedians. I wonder how many of the bunnies forced to give handjobs to Rob Schneider and John Lovitz in the grotto opted for “eternal peace” over lifetimes of PTSD.


The organizers of this carnival of blood are a trio of Ruling Class sadists named Father Murder (Malcolm McDowell), Sister Serpent (Jane Carr) and Sister Dragon (Judy Geeson). They have the Eyes Wide Shut naked lady servants waiting on them, while they dress like French aristocrats with heavy pancake makeup and elaborate powdered wigs. Their hired gang of buffoon goons wear face paint and are all saddled with the odd surname of “Head” for some reason. We start with the Latino Nazi midget Sick-Head (Pancho Moler). This twisted and hateful half-man is followed up by a pair of chainsaw wielding brothers in Leatherface masks (made up like Otis and Captain Spaulding) called Schizo- and Pyscho-Head (David Ury & Lew Temple). Next is another pairing, consisting of the brutal bohemoth (and near-copyright infringingly named) Death-Head (Torsten Voges) and his creepy little perv-o girlfriend Sex-Head (E.G. FUCKING Daily!) who’s just a less savage version of Sherri Moon-Zombie’s Baby Doll character dressed like a porn parody of Harley Quinn.

Be forewarned: among her many roles over the expanse of her career, E.G. Daily’s resume includes being the voice of Tommy Pickles on “Rugrats”. During one scene, where Sex-Head is crying in agony (spoiler, deal with it), she sounds like Tommy fucking Pickles. Yeah. Process that how you will.

Finally, there’s Doom-Head (Richard Brake). Doom-Head, who is the main reason to watch this movie. Holy shit. I didn’t know I was a Richard Brake fan until I watched 31. As generic as the rest of this movie may be, this motherfucker makes it unforgettable for me. He opens the movie going on a murderous soliloquy with one of his previous year’s victims that injects our brains with a massive dose of the heebie-jeebies. Not spooky shit, like the monster at the end of [REC], but that gut twisting “there are actually people like this in the darkest septic tanks of humanity” terror that makes you want to hide away from the world forever and buy stock in Smith & Wesson. Remember the Bloodhound Gang song, “A Lap Dance Is So Much Better”? If The Dick Braker here read those lyrics, I might throw up, because he could get them across ten times more nauseating than they already are. It’d make hearing trump talk about sexually assaulting women sound like Mary Poppins reading Dr. Seuss in comparison. Just thinking about it is agitating my chili dinner something fierce, so I’m gonna stop before I get a ghost pepper lodged in my sinuses. Again. Uggh.

Wait a minute! How the fuck does Zombie make a movie where all of the killers have “Head” in their name, and he doesn’t include one named “Iron Head”?! Granted, it wasn’t one of the better tracks off of The Sinister Urge, but this is the perfect place to bring the “demonoid phenomenon” juggernaut demigod to flesh (and iron)! Wasted opportunity.

And now, for the least interesting part of any Rob Zombie movie – the protagonists. This year’s victims of 31 are a motor home full of carnies! Yep, in keeping with our writer/director’s favored aesthetic of “Texas white trash chic”, the unsung heroes (and appropriately disparaged villains) of the midway take center stage, captured by a gaggle of mask wearing hijackers who stop them along a deserted highway in the middle of the night. Half the crew are killed in the exchange, while the remaining quintet are knocked out and taken away, waking up later in shackles. Of these five, if you think anyone other than the one played by Zombie’s wife Sherri is going to be the mandatory “final girl”, then you aren’t familiar with the esteem in which Bobbie Z holds his bride… except for the constant torment he puts her through with all of the fake blood and harassment and making her do her own stunts and shit. I wouldn’t be shocked to find out she files a temporary restraining order against her husbo after filming wraps on every movie they do to avoid having to file divorce papers instead… until the next movie, anyway.

Aside from being victims, there’s nothing to really make you care if the good guys live or die. There are some canned moments where they’ll comfort each other or defend each other and try to force that “these people aren’t just friends, they’re family” moment to no avail. Not quite as useless as treating cancer with a mix of Robitussin and prayer, but ineffective enough. The same could be said for the last 10 minutes of the movie, which… just… fuck it, I’m not gonna break my vow. Why bother giving us balloons if your endgame is just to pop ’em, Mr. Zombie? Dick.

Speaking of “Dick”, let’s get back to the load bearer of the movie, Richard Brake. Because I’d rather talk about him instead. Given that Brake featured fairly prominently into the movie version of DOOM, I’m curious if that was the motivation behind the name “Doom-Head”. Of further interesting ponderances to ponder, Brake played Joe Chill in Batman Begins, the otherwise unspectacular street thug who killed Bruce Wayne’s parents. In Tim Burton’s Batman, Joe Chill was replaced by Jack Napier, who would go on to become Jack Nicholson’s immortal portrayal of The Joker… an evil clown. Is it fate that Richard Brake, who killed Thomas and Martha Wayne, has now gone on to become a psychopathic serial killing clown too? No. Because fate’s not a thing. Those hags at the loom? They’re the Wimp-Los of mythology. We just play along while laughing at them behind their backs.

31‘s themes map out as if it’s the result of a weekend tour bus nerd binge by Zombie between performances. Borrowing heavily from Rockstar’s Manhunt games (kidnapped protagonist must fight his way out of a giant snuff film version of The Warriors) and/or The Running Man (unwilling “contestants” are chosen to fight for their lives in a game show where they’re hunted by murderous characters, each with their own gimmick), with a dash of “The Hunger Games” (the impoverished are forced to fight to the death for the entertainment of wealthy people in extravagant costumes), a pinch of Marvel Comics (a circus themed arena of death just straight up called “Murderworld” for fuck’s sake!), then sifted through a grindhouse era filter (“scratched film” visual effect, grimy tones, gore and depravity are key), and finally sifted again through a filter of one of the worst filming methods to come out of the 21st century (fucking SHAKEY CAM!). There’s a nod to The Rocky Horror Picture Show‘s infamous dinner scene for dessert, minus the whimsical birthday hats and the tense atmosphere of everybody at the table having cheated on each other with everybody else. Despite my enjoyment for most of these things (or maybe in spite of it), what we get is an overall recipe for… mediocrity.

I get that Zombo grew up on horror movies and comic books and all that jazz that most people who come to this site probably share an affinity for, but COME ON! When are we going to get something more original out of this guy?! House of 1,000 Corpses was an homage to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The Lords of Salem was an homage to Rosemary’s Baby. Halloween was a reboot and an overt homage to Frankenstein by trying to give the monster context and sympathy. The Haunted World of El Superbeasto was an homage to Fritz the Cat and every other crazy-ass Ralph Bakshi cartoon ever made, starring a character that’s just a goofy version of El Santo or Blue Demon. Even his most loved movie, The Devil’s Rejects is basically just a white trash mash up of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place”!

Okay, that last part was mostly a joke (mostly), but you get my gist.

I can understand Bob’s preference to direct his own scripts, as I too have control issues, but I’d like to see him direct something that’s both original and written by someone else. And that doesn’t include Sherri on the cast. It’s nothing personal against her, I don’t even mind her as an actress, it’s just part of my wanting a vacation from the same old same. We’ve been watching the man’s stuff since 2003. We’re overdue on the seven year itch, Rob. You talk about giving people something different, but all you did was rehash your older stuff and berate us with shaky cam shit. You’re not Michael Bay, nor should you wanna be. Just stop it. I haven’t paid for one of your albums since “The Sinister Urge” man, and I’m verging on skipping your next movie at this rate too…

But who gives a clown-shaped shit what I think? Opinions are like assholes – we’ve all got one. I’m just here to make jokes and channel my disdain for life in a fashion that won’t end with me behind bars sharing a toilet with some IBS suffering serial rapist. And on that note, cue the end credits!

So begins The Year of the Painted Horrors. I’ll have more clownin’ around for you come November 13th! Until then, we’ve still got two more weeks of Rocktober Blood to spill, so be sure to check back for more journeys into motherfucking terror with your ol’ pal, Five-Speed Anubis of the Questionable Morality!

Moral of the Story: If you thought shaky cam was the worst thing to happen to movies since Smell-O-Vision (forget it Fudd, that shit’ll NEVER replace television!), wait until you see shaky cam WITH STROBE LIGHTING!

Screenshots_____

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Anubis will return next time in
“Balls of Fury”

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.

Feature 61 – The Raid 2 (2014)

or “Undercover Boogaloo”

Featuring: Iko “Merantau” Uwais , Arifin “Macabre” Putra , Alex “Rokkap” Abbad

Writer & Director: Gareth “The Raid” Evans

Origin: Indonesia

Also Known As: The Raid: Retaliation , The Raid 2: Berandal

Sequel to: The Raid: Redemption

Review_____

“If the worst thing that happens during your time with us is that you suffer the indignity of an old man seeing your cock, then I’d say you got off light.”

Yep, I decided to stick around Indonesia for an extra week and knock out The Raid 2 while I’m here. I will neither confirm nor deny the rumors that I’m still here because a giant shark leapt from the ocean and ate my private helicopter, as that’s a matter for my insurance company to decide. Instead, let’s talk about Raid Harder and get this undercover boogaloo underway!

Oh. Uhm, before we get started, despite my best efforts to keep the twists and results of the first movie unspoiled, the simple act of reviewing this sequel is going to require that I undo my own efforts. So, if you don’t want me to pull the thread and unravel the poorly stitched monstrosity that was my Raid: Redemption episode, I suggest you take Lord Humungus’ advice and “Just walk away.” At least until you get a chance to watch the first one.

Are they gone? Cool. Now, everyone reading beyond this point has either seen the first flick or doesn’t give a dry hump about seeing a cheat sheet for it, right? Cuz even though I’m still restricted from typing word one about anything that could prematurely hasten the sequel’s “Sell By” date, I will be turning some MAJOR events of the original into a mold maligned mess in a matter of moments, starting……..now: – Jakartan SWAT team rookie Rama (played by real life Silat martial arts champion Iko Uwais) survived the eponymous raid upon the apartment complex from Hell. Crimelord-turned-slumlord Tama’s fortress of operations made him seemingly untouchable, but Rama’s Jenga™ game (and the help of his brother Andi) was just too legendary to withstand, and Tama’s Tower was toppled.

Well, supercop Ramadan is back. Picking up almost immediately where the previous film left off, our hero has uncovered the terminal cancer of corruption in the Jakartan justice system that allowed Tama to operate unabated. Upon Andi’s advice, he gets in touch with a man named Bunawar (Cok Simbara), who is one of the last corruption-free cops left on the police force. With a few of his trusted men, BunWarmer has the injured Bowo (yeah, he survived too) taken to a safe hospital, feng shuis captured traitor Lieutenant Wahyu’s brains outside of his skull, and recruits Rammy into their small operation of on-the-level officers. He promises to protect Rama’s wife and son-to-be but wants to send the Raid-er of the last arc (har har) undercover. The plan is to get him deep enough into cahoots with the syndicate that he can get the names of all the pigs on the bad guys’ payroll and flush ’em out fiercer than the trans-dimensional warp toilet that took Mario and Luigi to the Mushroom Kingdom in “The Super Mario Bros. Super Show” intro.

While Ram considers whether he wants to get this dedicated to his work or not, brother Andi (Donny Alamsyah) gets wasted by underworld figure Bejo (Alex Abbad), who plans on overtaking Jakarta as its new kingpin once current head bad guy Bangun (Tio Pakusodewo) is removed from power…or gets his face blown off. Whichever happens first. According to Bejo, Andi apparently pulled an Icarus and let his ambitions carry his ass too close to the sun when he succeeded his previous employer Tama, following his death in the prior flick. Unlike Tama, Andi didn’t know well enough to know his role, shut his mouth, and smell what The Rock was cookin’. He dipped his finger in the brownie batter and ends up on the receiving end of a Nicky Santoro Special as a result. Don’t get it? No, it’s not a sandwich. Or a sex act. Go watch Casino. Joe Bob Briggs has a cameo! I’ll wait.

Before we get back to progressing with our protagonist, here’s the quick-and-dirty on the Jakartan underbelly. As mentioned, Bangun (which is presumably more powerful than a ban hammer) runs half of the city, while the other 50%’s governing faction is a family of ne’er-do-well Yakuza from Japan known as the Goto. If you need bad things done and laws broken, you might say they’re your “go to guys”… After which you’ll likely be stabbed in the stomach for making the same gut groaningly bad pun they’ve no doubt heard more times than Connor MacLeod’s katana was folded. The two sides have been at peace for the last decade, staying out of each other’s business. Crime and let crime. They each have their own bribery deals with the police, headed by the evil Commisioner Reza (Roy Martin), who’s the big fish BunBun is hoping to land with Rama’s help, provided that he agrees. Which I’ll bet he does, otherwise we wouldn’t have much of a movie.

And what is Bun’s means to his end? Ram Man’s going to prison under the alias of Yuda: a nobody from nowhere that nobody knows about. Yep, our big man’s going to the big house. Once there, it’s his job to get in good with ‘Gun’s sole son, Uco (Arifin Putra), which may or may not be short for “Yucko”. It’s never really addressed. To make sure Rammstein catches the bad guy’s eye right out of the gate, the crime he gets arrested for is beating the shit out of the son of the politician who got Ucky put there in the first place. Like any good actor, what’s Rama’s motivation for beating said offspring’s ass? He works with Bejo. Yeah, after seeing what this guy did to all those machete assholes a la Redemption, I wouldn’t want to be in the British Knights© of anybody under the employ of the guy who shotgunned Andi’s face straight into a shallow grave.

Ramrod goes through with the plan, kicking the shit out of the senator’s son (not such a “fortunate one” now, eh?) and getting himself incarcerated. When trying to get the attention of the major players in the clink, it doesn’t hurt to single-handedly take on fifteen guys in a toilet at once (in a fight, not a gangbang, ya perverts), which Rama does to moderate success. Punching out the biggest guy in the place? Not good enough when you’re doing time in the Eastern Hemisphere! You don’t cripple at least 5 guys in the first hour, you may as well get “fuck hole” tattooed around your mouth. Peacocking his titanium beach balls makes our hero the number one draft on wanna-be-Greaser haired Uco’s recruiting drive, especially given that he needs all the protection he can get what with his high profile status.

The two hit it off (kinda), and before you know it we FF>> a pair of calendars to Rama finishing out his sentence. The since freed Uco greets him at the prison gates and ushers him back into the fresh air of freedom, immediately taking his new BFF to meet dear old dad. After some awkward introductions and a getting a new set of threads, Rams is tasked by Bangun (seriously, his name sounds like an Ultraman villain!) to babysit Uco, making sure his brash, youthful aspirations don’t make the lad too big for his britches and put him on the wrong side of the wrong people. Speaking of the wrong people, Bejo’s consolidated his power enough to get some attention by the bosses, and may be eyeing his own ill-fitting pair of Dockers.

Our main man falls by the wayside for the middle piece of the movie, as the focus shifts to all of the basic crime movie political stuff: factions pitting factions against one another, struggles for power, illicit activities, peace treaties, backroom scheming, assassinations and so on. Rama’s really just there to keep Uco from killing karaoke call girls for this section. He comes back adamantium hard for the final act though, breaking limbs, splitting lips, and cracking skulls like ass kicking is his business and he’s having a clearance sale! There’s even a cool (albeit it oddly music deprived) car chase sequence that’s pretty damn spiffy, along with some righteous fisticuffs between Big Hero Ram and the movie’s trio of gimmick antagonists (credited as “Hammer Girl”, “Baseball Bat Man”, and “The Assassin”). It’s some of the best action I’ve seen since Set gave that classroom full of 1st graders PCP and duct taped razorblades to their fists! Every one of them got an A+ that day, I tell you. Except little Duncan. Poor kid never learned to guard his left…

Speaking of psychotic violence for personal enjoyment, for anyone (like myself) who was a big fan of Yayan Ruhian’s “homeless man murder machine” Mad Dog from Redemption, Ruhian returns for the sequel as Prakoso: the homeless man murder machine who works as the personal assassin for Bangun and family, and has done so for so long that Uco calls him uncle. ‘Oso is far more humanized than Mad Dog was (no surprise, since his name was Mad Dog, after all. Duh.), doesn’t share his antecedent’s predilection for unassisted conflict, and manages to look even more like an unwashed hobo. I can’t wait to see him pop up in The Raid 3 dressed like Jed Clampett and wielding a bindle like some crazy-ass Boxcar Willie Chan! That’s a joke that completely shits the bed since Willie Chan was Jackie Chan’s talent agent-slash-co-producer and not a performer. Fuck. Moving on!

This was originally intended to be Evans’ sophomore feature following his debut picture, Merantau, but as a barely proven writer-director at the time, the Welshman had to put it on the backburner and come up with the much more thrifty Redemption first to prove that he was indeed worthy of his original dream’s asking price. It became an international hit and Indonesia’s highest grossing movie of all time (a statistic I just pulled out of my ass, so I wouldn’t quote it if I were you), and as such, Raid 2 was born. The only problem here is that this is only tangentially a sequel. Not a shock, as it was written first and not intended to be a follow-up, but the idea of a rookie SWAT officer thrown directly into an undercover operation grates my cheese. I guess NetFlix training by sitting through half-a-dozen similar movies is enough to get by in the Jakartan crime world.

There’s obviously more story here, so the action isn’t as nonstop as before. But, as I said in the last review, Evans’ strong point isn’t writing, so adding more story and script to the formula does him few favors. Sadly, barring a few exceptions, if you’ve seen one undercover-pig flick you’ve pretty much seen them all. As well-versed in fighting chops as the cast is, they’re not a shade on Donnie Brasco when it comes to acting chops, nor is the tale half as intriguing and well twisted as Infernal Affairs (or its ‘Merican-izing, The Departed). I’m far from being a crime fiction fanboy, but I could smell the (french) twists on this one coming like Nozone can smell Junkyard taking his morning shit in the backyard 5 minutes before he even squats.

That reference is probably gonna require a Google or two, so don’t feel bad if it sounds like I was speaking Aramaic for a minute there.

Not wanting to sacrifice what got him this far to begin with, Evans still puts plenty of bang-pow into his movie. As a result though, the runtime on R the Deuce hits a harder to swallow 2.5 hours. Blame my underdeveloped gag reflex if you like, but 150 minutes for something like this is a bit much. The original cut came in at something short of 4 hours though, which is probably the stuff they’re going to Frankenstein Raid 3 out of. As much as Mr. Evans knows how to shoot a fight scene too, there are needless bits of shaky cam during non-action scenes, as if he’s got some kinda hyperactive disorder and can’t let the camera stand still for more than a few minutes at a time. It kinda kills the drama of the moment when you’re too busy getting dizzy to stay engaged. Oh well. Still not as amateurish and off-putting as Michael Bay’s bowel movie-ments.

As a guy who cites Jackie Chan, John Woo, and Sam Peckinpah as his action objects of idolatry, it’s nice to see Evans make movies that would do them proud. He also does the classic “director who’s also a fanboy” thing and puts in a few nods to other movies while he’s at it, including a *wink*wink* to Oldboy and a *nudge*nudge* to Versus. Shit, he even drops a reference to his freshman feature Merantau, since Rama’s alias Yuda was also Uwais’ character’s name. Pretty sneaky, Sis.

On a whole, The Raid 2 is a groovy slab of movie. Though he won’t win any writing awards, Gareth Evans is still a stellar action guy. He may be one of the best fight choreographers in the world! I probably won’t watch this again without doing the Fast Forward Fandango to soak in the beautiful brutality and glorious goriness, but my complaints are limited. Bring on the finale to the trilogy!

Before I go, I’d like to give every moviemaker ever a bit of solid advice: do something incredibly memorable and parody worthy with your movie’s subtitle. Don’t do something so generic as “The Revenge” or “The Final Chapter”, but do something that will make people remember your movie years after everyone has forgotten what the fuck it was or who starred in it or even if it was good or not. Truly unforgettable subtitles like “The Legend of Curly’s Gold” or “The Destruction of Jared-Syn” or, the inspiration for today’s alternate title, “Electric Boogaloo”. Trust me, I’ve never even seen Breakin’ 2, but I’d have to be subjected to some fucking Manchurian Candidate level brain rape before I ever forget something like “Electric Boogaloo”. Hell, it’ll probably be my activation code when I become a sleeper cell agent!

Moral of the Story: Mud wrestling’s not nearly as arousing when it’s being done by 50 guys in a prison yard.

Screenshots_____

No matter which continent you’re on, “douche bag” is a universal language.


“Uggh! Was that you?! Have you been eating brussel sprouts lately, or did something just crawl up your ass and die?!”


“You may not have noticed, but my hair is beginning to thin slightly. Where do you stand on the ‘keep it natural’ vs. ‘shave it’ debate?”


“You’ve failed this city.”


Looks like the Taco Bell men’s room after Fifty Cent Burrito Happy Hour.


“Can I interest you in some of my homemade ‘Jailhouse Rockin’ hair gel? I mix it in my cell toilet. Just 7 cigarettes for an all-day hold you can depend on!”


Woodstock ’99: the Morning After


Indonesian Bruce Campbell!


“Pfttt! I pay an extra dollar for the Premium Alpo© and it tastes the same as the regular stuff! Waste of money.”


“If you EVER eat the last S’Mores Pop Tart again, I will make it so you spend the rest of your life sitting down to pee. Do you hear me!?”


“No! Please! I had to save up 6 months pay to FINALLY buy this Incredible Hulk #181! It’s the last book I needed to complete my Wolverine collection! DON’T TAKE THIS AWAY FROM ME!”


They’re practicing the new men-only partner yoga – Broga.


“I’m telling you, man, if you bend your fingers up like this when you’re doing it, you’ll hit the g-spot every time! It drives the women CRAZY!”

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Anubis will return next time in
“What’s Eating Gilbert Chan?”

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.