Feature 59 – Romasanta (2004)

or “Werewolves. Mayhem. Soap.”

Featuring: Julian “Warlock” Sands , Elsa “Fast Five” Pataky , John “The Machinist” Sharian

Director: Paco “[REC]” Plaza

Writers: Alberto “Extinction” Marini , Elena “Prime Time Serra , Alfredo Conde

Origin: Spain

Also Known As: Werewolf Hunter , Werewolf Hunter: The Legend of Romasanta , The Werewolf Manhunt , Romasanta: the Werewolf Hunt

Review_____

“When a dog tries to bite you, you can kick it. But with a wolf…”

I’d like to thank the gents of The Celluloid Zeroes for letting me horn in on their “Adult Onset Lycanthropy” roundtable. Be sure to check out the rest of the crew’s reviews, as linked at the bottom of this one!

I told you I’d get back to the Fantastic Factory sooner or later! Romasanta was originally supposed to be the cap-off for the “Fantastic Four” reviews thing, but when the AOL ‘table was announced, I thought it better to nudge it back a couple of episodes and put Arachnid in its place (in both contexts). And so here we are! And Julian Sands is here with us! Hooray! From the first time I saw Warlock, to his voice work as the villain in ‘The Jackie Chan Adventures‘ and all the smaller pay days in-between (like Naked Lunch and Tale of a Vampire), I’m always a sucker for a good Sands job. That sounded so much dirtier than intended. Bravo. *golf clap*

What we have here (aside from a failure to communicate) is one of those “based on a true story” flicks that neglects to put the word “loosely” at the beginning of that statement. Or, in cases of stuff like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, “almost not at all”. Romasanta actually keeps it pretty close to the truth, and could even be construed as keeping it absolutely 100 if you’re going by the claims of the eponymous real-life serial killer (Spain’s first, incidentally!) upon which the story is based. Now, who wants to relive one of the most bizarre crimes in the annals of Spanish history with Uncle Anubis?!

No. You can’t sit in my lap anymore. Your parents think it’s inappropriate and I’m not dealing with wild accusations and angry villagers wielding torches because you’re not comfortable sitting on the floor. You don’t like it? Bring a pillow to these things, because I’m not buying a chair. It’s bad enough I let you use my bathroom and eat my Circus Peanuts.

Our tale takes place in the village of Galicia. The year is 1851. Queen Isabella II (Electric Boogaloo) rules the land while both fending off the Carlists who want her dethroned and trying her best to make her marriage with her gay cousin Francisco work (at least that’s what Wikipedia told me). Lacking televisions, the children are babysat/entertained by poorly done puppet shows. Everyone is generally pleased with life, despite the lack of indoor plumbing and constant threat of wolf attacks. Seems Galicia’s been having a lot of the latter lately, so much so that the disappearance of a local bailiff (you know, like Bull from “Night Court”) has been blamed on lupinous ill-intentions. When his body is recovered, ravaged with tooth and claw wounds, a bounty goes into effect for every wolf carcass collected. A plan to promote both populace safety and lower the general fear factor, since nothing motivates the frightened masses better than the clinking of coinage! They go so far as to trap the poor things in cages and shoot them dead in the middle of the market square so everyone can watch. Where’s Princess Mononoke when you need her?! Oh, right. Japan. Never mind.

We’re introduced to Barbara (Elsa Pataky), a lovely young Galician gal, as she goes out to the family barn to check on their animals one night. She finds their pig with its throat ripped out (Oh god! Not Orson!) along with the culprit (an almost jackal-esque wolf) still eating its newly acquired dinner not 10 feet away. The quadrupedal menace growls at her, threatening to make her the next course on the esophageal buffet. Fortunately for Babs, her brother-in-law Manuel (Julian Sands) appears from nowhere in the nick of time to stare down the sinister pooch and send it packing with its literal proverbial tail betwixt its legs. Was it intimidated by the stance of an alpha male, or did wolfy see what happened to Cloquet’s houseboy in Naked Lunch and just think “Yeah… fuck that. Adios!”.


(I was going to post a pic of what did happen to Cloquet’s houseboy, but this completely unrelated Naked Lunch still is funnier)

Manuel is a traveling salesman and transcriber for people who can’t write their own letters. Remember, this is the 19th century. “School House Rock” hasn’t been invented yet. He’s back from the road, much to the relief of wife Maria (Maru Valdivielso), mute daughter Teresa (Luna McGill), and aforementioned s-i-l Barbara, who will feel a lot more secure in the wake of the recent wolf ransacking now that there’s a man (and apparent wolf whisperer) in the house again. His stay won’t be long though, as he’s moving everybody to Santander – a fancier township where they can get a tutor to teach Teresa sign language. Also, though they probably still have wolves there, they’re probably just not so human hungry. Kinda like how Candy Apple Island still has apes, just not as big as the apes on Ape Island.

Everybody’s up for the move, but Maria’s one of those housewives who watches too much “Maury”. She thinks little sister has the skank eye for her Man(uel), so she insists on leaving Barb behind to fend for herself “until they can find a position for her” in their new zip code. When Babs insists on going with them and tries to talk to Manny about it, Mar pulls a knife on her and threatens to gut her if she doesn’t take her exile from the family like a good girl! This went from “Maury” to “Jerry Springer” faster than you can say “Keep it in the family”! Yikes.

Not wanting to see if she can live without her spleen, Barb acquiesces and stays behind, alone in the family farmhouse. Maria wonders if she’s done the right thing, but doesn’t have long to regret her decision, since Manny KILLS HER! Yep. On the way to their new home, the trio stops in the forest to make camp for the night. While Mar’s off bathing (don’t get excited, as “bathing” in this sense involves wearing full pantaloons AND her corset), Mr. Romasanta torments little Teresa by JAMMING TWIGS INTO HER PET BIRD’S EYES (so it flies around manically “like a butterfly”), then sending her off silently screaming into the woods to get caught in a wolf trap, where he finishes her off by JAMMING STICKS INTO HER EYES TOO! I’m a heartless monster, but even I can’t get behind child abuse like that. Jesus fuck biscuits! Anyway, Maria finds her, but has her mourning cut short when the camera lunges at her horrified visage before cutting to black. You know, that multipurpose Evil Dead technique that builds suspense by not showing you who/what is attacking her, while also saving a few Pesetas by not having to pony up for a monster suit that won’t look like a pile of shit and zippers when shot in daylight.

Galicia’s District Attorney, Luciano (Gary Piquer, looking kinda like Viggo Mortensen in a beard), is determined to get to the bottom of these killings. Apparently the D.A.s back then didn’t just do court stuff, they doubled as the Sheriff. To help him sniff out the true culprit(s) behind these killings and keep this wolf hunt from becoming a witch hunt, Lucy calls for outside help in the form of Algerian man-of-science Professor Philips (David Gant). Dr. Phil provides some classic insight into 19th century criminology, like how big headed sweaty guys are always guilty because they can’t control their natural affinity toward evil. In my case, that’s very true. He also believes that through physical and mental manipulation, these people need not be executed, but can be rehabilitated. When the town’s tribunal tasks him with proving the legitimacy of his science, Phil uses said lawmaker as an example and sticks a couple of needles into his brow line, causing him to sob uncontrollably. How this proves that the Moisty McPumpkinSkull they’ve pulled in as a suspect could be a serial killer, I have no clue, but I didn’t study at 19th Century Doctor College. I earned the Leeching Bachelor’s degree on my wall by watching The Giant Leeches.

Prof Philips is also well versed in the coronery arts, not to be confused with the “culinary arts” or “coronary arts”, so don’t. Through his autopsies of the victims (preserved in coffins filled with salt), he drops the unsettling knowledge that one of the bodies, a 14 year-old girl who kinda resembles the now deceased Teresa, was also the recipient of a postmortem custard pumping. This means that not only is our killer a hebephiliac, but also a necrophiliac…making him some kind of necrohebephiliphiliac. Queasy.

An expensive earring was also discovered on the body, meaning that she was from a well-to-do village elsewhere. Since wolves eat their prey where they find it (too stuck up for doggy bags), obviously they wouldn’t have dragged this girl all the way here from wherever she was killed. Even if, I’m pretty sure most wolves don’t rape their dinner after they’ve killed it either. Unless of course it was a Wall Street wolf, as they’re pretty abhorrent sexual deviants if the legends are to be true. *rimshot* No, necrophilia on a teenage girl seems more like the kind of nightmarish horror nature reserves for humans…or otters. Seriously, look up the dark acts those furry little motherfuckers get up to after dark. You’ll wanna round ’em up and throw ’em all into a giant blender after you do. As Lord Byron famously put it, “I shit you not”.

Philips also finds that the bodies have wounds consistent with not only teeth and claws, but also knife incisions! Curiously enough, they’ve also been relieved of all of their body fat. Though this sounds like the result of some radical fucking medieval liposuction, everybody who saw/read Fight Club gun jumped to the immediate conclusion I did: somebody’s making soap. Given that soap is still a luxury item at this time, who do we know that sells luxury items? That’s a bingo. Our killer has a name-o. And it’s the title of the movie. Which we already know by this point because we just got done watching Manuel Romasanta kill his wife and daughter. Such is the problem when we’re watching a murder mystery that already shows us who the killer is: there’s nothing for us to figure out and we just sit back and wait for Manny to start killing people like it’s just another slasher movie. Blart.

Speaking of Manfred, he returns to Galicia the following morning, bearing gifts for his dear s-i-l. Barbara wakes up to the tune of an ornate music box and the sight of an extravagant gold dress. After she puts the dress on and starts eyeball fucking herself in her mirror, Manny creeps up on her and gets all squeezey and strokey on her neck and clavicle, telling her how beautiful she is. In a classier way than when I woo a woman by whispering stuff like “You’re curing my ED.” or “I wish you weren’t married right now” into her ear on the subway. Barb asks the smooth talker just how many women he’s knocked the boots off of, to which he offers up the usual verbal evasive maneuvering every double-dipping Don Juan pulls out in times of interrogation, all the while seeing the faces of his presumed victims in the mirror. Barb catches sight of her sibling’s guilt-inducing visage in the looking glass though, and talks herself out of engaging in any of Manuel’s infidelity. If I had a dollar for every time some spook cockblocked me, I’d have enough to buy one of those PornHub twerking Terminator butts. I know what’s going on my Cthulhumas wish list!

Manny tells Barb that her sister and niece are fine and dandy in Santander, and that Maria’s even procured her a job! See, if we didn’t know that he’d already killed his wife and daughter, this would’ve worked much better. Instead of getting the big reveal at the end though, now we just watch him perv on the young object of his affections while wondering how far it goes before Barb insists on seeing her loved ones. Though milady’s hormones are haunted by the disapproving, cunt-punting, sister specter (no doubt just an embodiment of her guilty groin), it takes all of an hour or two for her to exorcise that loin phantom. During her morning bath, Manny creeps up on her again, this time giving her an erotic washing in the tub that leads to some submarinal stimulation of the clitoral variety. Even when he gives her the moral out and pulls his hand away, she gives him the “Oh, you are NOT fucking done yet, mister!” look and pulls his hand back between her thighs, putting the “sensual” in “consensual”. Manny must be a helluva marksman, cuz his fingerbang game hits the bullseye! Fingerbang! Bang bang bang!

Though the identity of our serial murderer is never in doubt, the exact origins of his situation are brought into question during a flashback sequence. We see Manny pick up an injured farmer along the road (back then they only had one road and it went to every town and it was uphill both ways in 6 feet of snow) and offer to take him to the next town to get treated for the sickle wound he’s suffered. Determined that the guy won’t make it, Romy (sans Michelle) offers to write up a goodbye letter for him and deliver it to his soon-to-be widow. Farmer Fred gives up the ghost mid-sentence, so our suavely sinister lead fills it in with some really schmaltzy shite about how her butt won’t quit and $5 chewy pretzels or something. He delivers the message and worms his way into filling the now gaping hole in her life…and any other holes that could use a good stiff tending to (said with a perverse “heh heh heh” and a liberal “humpin’ thrust” motion).

This brings to question exactly how it is that Manuel got involved with Maria. Was Teresa his biological daughter or his stepdaughter? The movie stays pretty obtuse on the topic, thought I’d like to think that it’s intentional. Whatever his true relation to Barb’s family, while Romasanta continues his seduction of his s-i-l, a goon with a scarred face trespasses on their property and attempts to shoot him in the back! No surprise, as said goon has a massive dome and looks like the type of person who’s constantly wiping his sweaty palms on his pants. Seeing the (hilariously computer generated) glint off the rifle first, Barb throws herself into the line of fire and takes one for her man. The mystery mongoloid slips away while Manuel takes her inside and extracts the slug of silver from her back, saving her life. He picks this as the most appropriate time to declare that his life belongs to her, but the most inappropriate time to gift her a lovely little necklace in thanks. A necklace that he lifted from Teresa’s neck right before he murdered her! Giving your new girlfriend a prized trinket stolen from her beloved relative is the only thing worse than giving her an engagement ring with your ex’s name still etched in the band, and this guy fucking does it! That’s a whole new level of dick move, and that’s coming from one of the King Dongs of dicks! For shame on you, Mr. ‘Santa. Hell, FIVE shame on you, you bastard.

Naturally Bar recognizes the bauble (taken from her only freaking niece!) so that night, while her new fuck buddy is copping some z’s, she goes snooping through his caravan. Under a loose floorboard, Nancy Drew finds a small chest of misappropriated valuables, along with some not exactly clear but very official looking documentation with Teresa and Maria’s names on them. I thought they were death certificates at first, but my Evil Dead Bride suggests that they may be the gals’ wills. But, would a child even have a will? Whatever the case, no sooner does Bar put everything back, then someone cartjacks her! Wait…so Manuel leaves his horses tied to the cart at night? What the fuck?! That’s the 19th century version of leaving the keys in the ignition and the doors unlocked! His insurance company won’t be paying a dime on this claim…

During the kerfuffle, Babs is tossed around worse than someone trying to get to the toilet on a Greyhound. No diggity. Indiana Jones has an easier time crossing rope bridges. And trying to piss standing up while it’s doing 65 on the highway without getting it all over your shoes? It should be part of the initiation process to get into fucking Skull & Bones! Anyway, a dropped lantern turns the whole thing into a mobile inferno, with our de facto heroine (who’s not exactly a bastion of morality since she’s having an affair with her dead sister’s husband) managing a literal leap of faith that would make Zoe Bell pop a thumbs up. She’s immediately accosted by Lumpy Scarface, who rips off a piece of her dress, rubs it on his face saying “they’ll follow me”, and runs off into the woods to play decoy, shouting to attract the attention of the baying wolves echoing in the night.

The next morning, she wakes up to find the galoot has since returned, and he enlightens her as to his origin story. His name is Antonio, and he used to be a common thief. One day, while burgling a church, he was confronted by a wolf (I still say the wolves around here look more like jackals) that shrugged off a point-blank gunshot like it was the world’s mildest beer belch. In retaliation, it attacked this clearance rack Randy Couture and brought him into the brotherhood of the wolf (different movie). After engaging in a few co-murders with his new barking bro, Tony became so overwhelmed with guilt that he now hunts Romasanta to bring an end to the monster and maybe get his own curse lifted by scoring a few redemption points from Jehovah while he’s at it.

When Barb goes with him to the constables to corroborate his story about the WolfManuel (see what I did there?), they declare Tony as clearly insane and have him locked up. No doubt his big fat head and damp mitts gave him away. They practically caught him red wet handed, wakka-wakka! Despite Antonio’s detaining, D.A. Lucy believes Babs enough to put out the 1850s equivalent of an APB on Romasanta before sending her home. While there, she finds a stash of Manny’s stuff, including letters he had transcribed for his many girlfriends to their families, but never delivered. It’s not explained whether he intended to deliver these later, was keeping them as mementos of his conquests (serial killers are weird like that), or just hadn’t gotten around to burning them yet, but they serve as the perfect plot twist excuse to turn Babs vigilante and put her on his trail. She takes off across the countryside, returning the letters to their original senders and asking around about any recent Romy sightings. As you can guess, it turns out this traveling salesman has a different alias in every town, and now that his new squeeze is ratting him out, it’s time to start cutting ties with all of these other girlfriends. Along with their throats, abdomens and whatever else he feels like severing.

Ladies, when a man is willing to murder all of his other girlfriends to be with you, it means you’re his Jet Li/Neo. You’re the One.

Back at the nuthouse, the doctors tell Tony that he’s not now, nor has he ever been a werewolf. He’s simply a delusional psychopath who was manipulated by Manuel into being his murder amigo. The Ottis Toole to his Henry Lee Lucas. The Tex Watson to his Charles Manson. The Ringo to his rest-of-The Beatles! With the second banana’s help, the man(uel)hunt gets a lead on where the killing spree could be heading next: a middle of nowhere town wherein the killer is cornered while doing day laborer work, reaping in a wheat field. For a scene where so many people are wielding scythes and sickles, there’s a disappointing lack of dismemberment to be had. Despite managing to evade the 5-0, Santa doesn’t run off like a smart fugitive would. Instead he takes the opportunity to confront his lady love (she fell behind the rest of the posse when her gunshot wound re-opened), who holds him at arm’s length with the tip of a sickle planted firmly in his neck. Whether her restraint is because she still loves him somewhere in her head, she wants to let the judicial system deal with him, or she just wants to know how her body rates next to the 30 or so other baked potatoes he was slinging his sour cream with (I’m presuming from experience, not sexist stereotypes), she keeps him there until the constabulary circle back around and take him into custody. The tension of this scene makes it a real “shut up and take notice!” moment. The intensity on Barb’s face sold me on Pataky as not just a likeable and lovely lady actor, but as someone who can act the living Hel out of such a scene with just her face. Between that and Plaza’s direction, it’s insta-boner stuff that puts movies with five times its production values to shame.

Manny’s taken back to Galicia and put on trial while a ravenous gang of villagers screams for his head outside the courthouse. They sadly lack the torches, pitchforks, and nooses you come to expect from angry Victorian Era mobs. Besides, why would there be multiple nooses? Did Steve, Randy and Carl ALL think it was their turn as “noose guy” in the rotation? Or is Randy known for using cheap rope when it’s his turn, so Steve and Carl just thought it prudent to bring back ups so as not to let Randy’s thrifty tendencies ruin another perfectly good lynching? “Damn it, Randy! You do this EVERY time!”

At trial, “the Werewolf of Allariz”’s defense is that he’s innocent and it’s Mother Nature who’s responsible for his crimes. Typical self-entitled cunt, always blaming his parents for his choice to be an asshole. Where he comes from (Allariz), it’s well known that the 9th born son of any family is touched by the Devil, and being his father’s 9th son that makes him inherently (or inheritedly in this case) evil. His transformation into the wolf is his malediction, and since a wolf’s natural instinct is to kill, it’s not his fault that he kills people when he’s furry and four-legged. He says he can be saved, and that his love for Barbara is the cure to the curse. Their relationship is the only thing that’s ever given him regret for his crimes and he didn’t feel the urge to kill a single person for the few days he spent romancing/fingerbanging her. To test this claim, the Professor (and Mary Ann?) puts him under hypnosis and he’s taken to the forest so the tribunal can witness his transformation into a bloodthirsty fleabag…or just watch a grown man play make believe. Santa recreates his actions during the murder of Maria and Teresa and guess what? No transformation. Not a physical one anyway. Sands’ portrayal of said recreation is either grand drama or pure scenery munchery. I’m not entirely sure which, but it’s definitely something worth watching!

Phillips diagnoses Romasanta with Adult Onset Lycanthropy (take a shot!), in that a strong emotional trigger turns him into a ravenous maniac. So, he becomes a metaphorical “wolf man”, rather than a literal one like more superstitious (i.e., dumb) people would believe. Thus, Phillips believes Manuel’s not only not responsible for the crimes he committed but can be rehabbed, thus Dr. P recommends to the judges that Romy be given over to the custody of the sanitarium. As with any cop, this puts Luciano on the express strain to FUCK YOU! Town, as his moral code of black & white (insert joke about racist cops here) says there’s no excuse for criminal acts and Roms needs to be imprisoned, followed by a nice public execution so justice can be served! I’m waiting for him to pull a Dirty Harry or a Frank Castle and just put a bullet between Manuel’s pretty blue eyes before this is over.

The court’s verdict? Manuel is to be remanded to the asylum’s custody pending further investigation. While there, he starts to pen his memoirs until he’s interrupted by Babs (wow, way to go security) who brings a silver knife to a love fight. She falters when Manny declares she can’t kill him because her heart won’t let her, but hopeless romantics tend to underestimate the overpowering lust for revenge. His lady love sheathes her pig sticker into her boyfriend’s pancreas, albeit with tears in her eyes. He falls to the floor, uttering his last words to her as some poetic b.s. about love and death before he says hello to Oblivion (“Hello, Oblivion!”) and fades to black. I’m as wrapped up in the words of wooing (not to be confused with Ric Flair’s words of “WOO!”ing) as the next tragic love story lead, but I’m pretty sure my final line to my girlfriend-turned-executioner would’ve been some variation of “AHHHH! FUCK! YOU FUCKING KILLED ME, YOU CUNT! I HOPE YOU DIE UGLY AND ALONE, YOU SELFISH BITCH!”. I can be a real prick when it comes to girlfriends gutting me though, literally and figuratively.

When the pork people discover him DOA, Lucy sees no need to investigate, likely chalking it up to a Willy Loman (*wink*wink*), but possibly going with the old “self defense” excuse after they put a gun in his hand and a bag of angel dust in his pocket. Like Bruce Hornsby put, that’s just the way it is, some things will never change. Funny how people who clamor for by-the-books justice are always the first to go rogue when said “justice” doesn’t fit their personal definition. I mean, this wasn’t even a case of a crooked judge or a slimy lawyer getting a serial rapist off the hook because the arresting officer wouldn’t let him wash his hands before cuffing them! The criminologist that he himself brought in to help with the investigation says that Romasanta’s insanity plea is legit, so Deputy Dog’s all “Fuck your science! Let’s get this guy dead as soon as possible!” and lets a vengeful citizen do the wet work for him while he covers for her! Justice? More like “just us”… best of luck explaining that one to yourself, because I’m foggier than The Fog on it, myself. Just random words!

The movie wraps with Barbara attending Manuel’s burial in the pouring rain (and wearing all black, so she’s clearly mourning her admissible retaliation), with the aftertext telling us that the real life Romasanta story played out much the same as what we just saw. The few exceptions being that his alleged accomplice Antonio was never found and Manuel was originally given a death sentence until Dr. Phillips petitioned the Queen to convert it to life in prison instead, due to his suffering from Lycanthropy. While he was awaiting a full pardon, though, Romasanta died in prison of “unknown causes”. The admirable dedication to the reality of the tale is no surprise, since script writer Alfredo Conde also wrote the fictional novel, The Uncertain Memoirs of a Galician Wolfman: Romasanta. Oh yeah, Conde’s also a descendant of one of the doctors involved in the original “Werewolf of Allariz” court case that took place in 1853/54 in Galicia, Spain! That’s some seriously cool pedigree to have for your “based on a true story” horror movie.

Before Romasanta, I thought Dagon was the only greatness to wade from the tar pit of bad-to-mediocre known as Fantastic Factory. But now? Holy shit. We’ve got a new #1 contender. As such, Dagon and Romasanta will be battling it out in a steel cage surrounded by jackals inside of a flaming steel cage surrounded by crocodiles for the Fantastic Factory Undisputed Championship Title! Or they can just share the awesome and serve as co-ambassadors for the non-existent campaign to bring the Factory back. Hell, Brian Yuzna’s been up to pretty much nothing since their doors closed, so we know he’s free! Now, where can we dig up a few millions dollars?

Aside from a plot hole here and there, an unanswered question or two, the story is good. I would’ve preferred more of a mystery with the whole thing, but the tale of Manuel and Barbara is a good one. It technically counts as a romance too, so next time your marital relations partner(s) want to watch something romantic, try and slip this into the rotation. It’s like a finger in the ass – you won’t know for sure until you try! However, if it doesn’t work the first time, don’t try it again. You might not get your finger (or DVD) back.

Paco Plaza’s direction is appropriately fantastic, no pun intended. As stated prior, PP (huh huh) makes this under the radar period piece look like something double its budget. There’s a single transformation scene (a flashback as told by Antonio) where we watch wolf Manuel turn back into his human form and it’s an excellent sequence. All practical effects, decidedly slimy “shedding your second skin” moment, cool “paws become hands” stuff, and a simple but effective beginning where the canine’s fur just washes off in chunks in the rain. My compliments to the chef(s)!

As far as the casting goes, I have no complaints about anyone involved, and nothing but praise for Miss Pataky. I was expecting Julian Sands to be the only standout in a cast of people I’d never heard of, but she was so likeable and intense and dramatic and DAMN was she good! To paraphrase Roger in Dawn of the Dead, she got this by the ASS! One of the review blurbs I read after watching referred to it as a “performance making role”, and I’m inclined to throw my thumbs up in agreement. She’s since become a reoccurring character in the last three Fast & Furious movies, so though I’ll never watch them, I’m happy to know that she’s making big fat Hollywood franchise money for her talents. Julian Sands definitely fits the title role because he’s handsome enough to be a ladykiller, but also has a nose that helps you believe this dude’s face elongates into a muzzle from time to time. He still pulls off the seductive thing in his advanced age too, so all the more reason he lives up to the part. His performance is pretty non-assuming for the most, but when it comes time for him to really get into the crazy, he definitely makes it a spectacle! Everyone else earns their paychecks and I had nothing to complain about. A backhanded praise to some, but believe me, a perfectly serviceable cast is a rare thing considering how bad some of the ensembles in prior Factory flicks turned out.

I’m REALLY happy I didn’t wait to do an episode on this one. It’s a slasher movie disguised as a werewolf flick done as a character study. Really well made, well acted, and if it weren’t for the disjointed story moments and sometimes inconsistent pacing, I’d say it was due for a golden feather. As is though, I’ll gladly give it a well-deserved 4 out of 5!

Next time I’ll be getting back on track with the World Tour de Farce. Where will I go and what will I see? The surprise is part of the fun! Until then, be sure to check out the other Adult Onset Lycanthropy reviews that the Celluloid Zeroes have in store for you! Keep those silver bullets warm and always carry some Wolfsbane in your socks, trucker fuckers! Don’t wanna get caught solajwf (shit outta luck and jolly well fucked). Ciao!


3B Theater: Micro-Brewed Reviews – Curse of the Black Widow
Checkpoint Telstar – The Bat People
Cinemasochist Apocalypse – Kibakichi
Las Peliculas de Terror – The Evil Within
Psychoplasmics – An American Werewolf in London
The Terrible Claw Reviews – Sssssss
Web of the Big Damn Spider – Summer School

Moral of the Story: In the 1850s, hypnosis and acupuncture were all the “psychiatric treatment” that the mentally ill needed. Meanwhile, “DNA evidence” was based on a suspect’s hat size and hand perspiration. Still, it’s slightly more scientific than the method of the modern day American justice system: basing a culprit’s guilt on their skin color and/or religious beliefs.

Screenshots_____

“Please don’t tell me you’re the Publisher’s Clearing House people! I am NOT TV ready! Can you come back in an hour!?”


Surgeon General’s Warning: NEVER eat an entire box of Gushers Fruit Snacks on your own. There’s just too much fruit juicy flavor for one person.


Oh great, now that my cousin Scratch has had a cameo in a movie we’ll never hear the end of it at Cthulhumas. No surprise though, he always was the “looker” of the pack.


Looks like the local Chinese buffet is stocking up on “beef” for the weekend rush.


“Ladies! Ladies! Please stop fighting! There’s enough Mr. Ed for the both of you!”


“ARGH! DAMN IT, TERESA! I TOLD YOU NOT TO LEAVE YOUR LEGOS LAYING AROUND ON THE FLOOR ANYMORE!”


“…and so, gentlemen of this tribunal, in the case of “Who Smelt It v. Who Dealt It”, I give you your smeller AND dealer!”


“Your neck is so beautiful, so long, so… uggh! What is that, a skin tag?! Gross. You should have that burned off. It looks infected!”


“Why?! Why would you think I’d want to see nude photos of Carrot Top bathing in tapioca pudding?! I have a child here for God’s sake!”


He looks exactly how I feel after I’ve been touching raw chicken skin. Like one of King Kong’s loogies, or the guest of honor at a kaiju bukkake party. Uggh!


Ah, the all too familiar morning after moment of “What did I do last night?!” mixed with “I am NEVER doing Jägerbombs again!”.


“Look, I’m sorry I jumped to the conclusion that you’re only angry because you’re on your period, but… I mean… well… aren’t you on your period?!”


I know that look well. That’s the look my Evil Dead Bride gives me when we’ve had a fight, I make a really dumb joke, and she tries her best to stifle the laugh so she doesn’t lose the “angry upperhand”. She always laughs though… except that one time… I really miss my left testicle.


“With my new invention, the cranium re-sizerator, men and women need never worry about their hats being too small or too large again! Their skull will always be the perfect size!”

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Anubis will return next time in
“Complex Problems”

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 18 – Black Dynamite (2009)

or “African American Explosive Device!”


Featuring:
  Michael Jai “Spawn” White , Salli “I Am Legend” Richardson-Whitfield , Tommy “In Living Color” Davidson

Director:  Scott “Thick as Thieves” Sanders

Writers:  Michael Jai “Three Bullets” White , Scott “Thick as Thieves” Sanders , Byron “BULLHORN!” Minns

Origin: USA

Review_____

How many times have I told you not to call me here and interrupt my KUNG-FU?!”

*The Tomb of Anubis is typed in front of a prerecord studio audience laugh track*

DISCLAIMER: The following review contains uses of racial slurs that are in no way used in a racist fashion. I am not a racist, as I hate people based on their choices and alignments in life. I do not discriminate based on how someone was born, either in their sex, sexuality, skin color, or other genetic factors. These slurs are used not in a hateful format, but in ways to match both the tone of the movie being reviewed and also to address the racist tendencies of others. In other words, if certain words make you uncomfortable, try to mentally censor them as “the ‘n’ word” or whatever makes you feel better rather than sending me hate mail that will be ignored anyway. Thank you.

Black History Month is very divisive. On the one hand, you’ve got racists and equalists who question why black people should get their own dedicated month while white people go unrecognized… hey, dipshits, white history doesn’t get its own month because white history is already celebrated YEAR ROUND – it’s called “History” and it’s taught in 100% of American schools. Maybe you should’ve stayed in yours if you had such a hard-on for honky historia. Twats.

On the other end of the argument, you have those who take offense to February being chosen for Black History Month, because it’s the shortest month of the year, and somehow being denied 2 days (1 on leap years) minimizes the importance of the event… yes, there are people who ACTUALLY take issue on this topic. “Not only does Hispanic History Month get a full 30 days, but it spans September AND October!? What the fuck is that shit about! White people just trying to keep ’em happy so their landscaping costs don’t go up!”. That was an actual quote from a black guy I knew once. Don’t ask who he is, you don’t know him. Stop thinking all black people know each other. That’s racist.

Speaking of divisive black subjects, today’s episode is an homage to/parody of Blaxploitation. For those not in the know of what you should be, Blaxploitation is a style of exploitation movie made popular in the ’70s where the heroes were all strong, cool, bad-ass African-American men and women who fought to save themselves and their communities from the oppression and corruption of rich old white guys and their Uncle Tom lackeys… often with incredibly low production values and actors so green that I’m pretty sure they hired actual hookers, pimps, and hustlers to fill many of the roles. Though many applauded these less-than-fine films for putting those of color front and center while demonizing Whitey as the source of all evil in the world (which he tends to be), there were still plenty of detractors from the black population who didn’t appreciate these movies being made BY old white guys who were only in it for the cash-in, not to give their colored brothers and sisters a fair voice in Tinseltown. A lot of these same detractors REALLY didn’t appreciate that Hollywood was basically just replacing their long time caricatures of fat lipped, nappy-haired, watermelon munching niggers with new afro sporting, pimp coated, whore slapping, malt liquor chugging coon stereotypes. Same old racism, just with a new coat of fried chicken paint to try and appeal to black markets. In capitalism, the only color that matters is green… and sometimes the search for it brings out how truly ignorant the people in charge are.

You can learn more about Blaxploitation movies at your local library! Just go up the librarian, put out your pimp hand, demand that he/she “Lay down some TRUTH!”, and if they don’t immediately put What it Is… What it Was! in your hand, slap that motherfucker silly until they get the message!

Whether you love ’em (like Shaft) or hate ’em (like Jive Turkey), for better or worse Blaxploitation is a benchmark in black history. In honor of that (and since the new site’s reviews only span movies of the current millennium), I considered reviewing Baadasssss! – Mario Van Peebles’ bio-pic/dedication to the genre and the movie that started it, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, starring his poppa Melvin. But, Black Dynamite‘s got Miguel Nunez in it. Miguel Nunez was Spider in Return of the Living Dead. Return of the Living Dead is my favorite zombie movie and Spider was the fucking coolest guy in said movie. Ergo, this complicated math equation’s result = Black Dynamite gets the spot. Maybe next year, Mario. And yes, I’m aware Miguel also starred in Juwana Man, but that’s just a testament to how fantastic he was as Spider. Ergo, shut up.

Black Dynamite (Michael Jai White) isn’t just our title, it’s also our hero’s name. BD (because it’ll save my fingers from having to type “Black” or “Dynamite” for the rest of this review) is harder than a petrified redwood and smoother than one of your momma’s milkshakes. He’s all four heroes of One Down, Two to Go rolled into one with a pinch of Dolemite on top. He’s a veteran of ‘Nam (“and all the dead Chinamen we left in our tracks”), a former agent for the CIA, and a lover of ladies all sizes and colors. Hell, the first time we meet him he’s running a reverse gangbang on a veritable Benaton ad’s worth of cumly coital cuddlers all shades of the racial rainbow! And, as was the style of his cinematic brothers of the time, BD is a practitioner of the deadly martial arts of Ghetto-Fu, crackin’ cracker skulls with his nunchucks of class warfaring black rage! He takes no shit, whether from pimps, pushers, hustlers, punks, thugs, government goons, ninjas, or the oldest of old ladies! He’s blacker than the ace of spades (yeah, that just put Lemmy into my head too), and more militant than your WHOLE damn army!… of course, it’s a lot easier to beat up the bad guys when they stick to the movie trope of only attacking the hero one-at-a-time rather than swarming him with their overwhelming numbers… Anyway, BD is basically the extreme amalgamation of Blaxploitation protagonists you’d expect from a ramped up slapstick parody such as this.

When BD’s little bro Jimmy, a former heroin addict, ends up dead in a drug deal gone further south than Br’er Rabbit, their aunt makes it none too subtle a point to remind BD that he promised their momma on her death bed that he’d take care of diminutive sibling James. Looks like getting Jimmy clean and off of la cheval wasn’t enough though, cuz now that he (and his weird snobbish English accent) have been murdered, it’s BD’s job to put the smack down on the smack dealers responsible. First on his list? Local drug kingpin Rafelli (played by perpetual movie goomba Mike Starr, the “gas man” from Dumb & Dumber), whom our hero gets to by shaking down local info sources with names like Cream Corn (Tommy Davidson) and Chicago Wind (Mykelti Williamson). Though Raf’s comeuppance montage is disappointingly short compared to the time spent finding him, his end is just the beginning of our hero’s journey. With the big man in town taken down, Black Dynamite and his collected crew of good guys uncover a 7 layer bean dip of craziness, with each layer crazier than the last! All I’ll say is that a global conspiracy is unmasked meant to take down the pride of every black man, and it touches on BD’s time in both ‘Nam and the CIA… oh, and it involves a shitload of fucking complicated Greek mythology and astrology, and the Great Emancipator himself! DY-NO-MITE! DY-NO-MITE!

There is a LOT going on in Black Dynamite, but since it comes in just under my 5 year moratorium on spoilers, I won’t say anymore than I already have. Suffice it to say that I’ve barely scratched the surface of what turns out to be a VERY thick watermelon… that wasn’t racist, it was a joke made within the tone of the movie! Shut up. Anyway, there’s SO much material on display here, it’s almost too much. Movies need rest periods to give the audience a chance to catch a breather, lest they suffocate. Though these cool down scenes do happen, the first 35-45 minutes lay it on a bit heavy with everything that gets stuffed into them. The whole thing is a great joke, but the joke needs to be a little better paced in the first half. I felt like I needed an intravenous Red Bull feed and a Speedball or two to keep up before finally turning the movie off entirely and coming back to it later. Maybe I’m just too old, or maybe I’m just not the best target for the “keep the joke running so long that it stops being funny, then push it even longer until it just becomes funny again” method of mirth.

Either way, Black Dynamite is still incredibly funny and incredibly well produced. Unlike the Grindhouse homages from the recent past (Death Proof, Planet Terror, Machete, etc.) Dynamite doesn’t embrace just the motif, but also keeps its setting planted firmly in the era of the movies it mimics. So, rather than be a modern movie shot through a crap filter for camp value, it feels more like a legit Blaxploitation flick. That legitimacy is faked with sepia filters, audio skips, boom mics, actors looking into the camera or at off-screen distractions, fight bloopers, out-of-focus shots, over-explained plot points, gibberish jive talk, excessive use of racial slurs (well, that’s pretty common in today’s actual movies, to be honest), a soundtrack of songs that narrate what you’re watching, and even poorly read lines kept from their first takes because film was too expensive to waste. It’s a production by people who obviously love the genre it spoofs and made sure to cover all the bases.

The cast is also great. Michael Jai White flexes his funny bone and gives me something to remember him by other than playing Spawn as he spews a near endless barrage of quotable lines in the guise of Black Dynamite, while co-writer Byron Minns shines diamond-like as BD’s boisterous rhyming sidekick Bullhorn! Although BD is the star and thus gets all the best dialogue and action, Bull gets an awesome slew of great moments of his own, mostly for flubbing lines that go nowhere, but get delivered with this ridiculous energy and enthusiasm that leave you no choice but to love the guy! I love you, Bullhorn! YEAH! Even the movie’s cameos are great! I mean, I’m not a big fan of Tommy Davidson or Arsenio Hall, but Cedric Yarborough (Reno 911!), Irwin Keyes (Charles Band’s Oblivion duology), and Phil Morris are always fun to see. And as mentioned before, I can’t not like a Miguel Nunez appearance. And when his character’s a pimp named Mo Bitches who makes prostitution jokes? Sold.

In a world where I’m Gonna Git You Sucka exists, is Black Dynamite really necessary? Yes. Yes it is. In fact, it more than earns a slot on a double bill with the Keenan Ivory Wayans classic. Despite the collective professional inexperience of its writers, Black Dyanmite deserves a place amidst the best movies of guys like Mel Brooks and Jim Abrahms and the Zuckers. But not Pat Proft, because he wrote The Star Wars Holiday Special and that’s punishable by being drawn and quartered in some countries. Will we ever see a Black Dynamite 2: the Blackening/Electric Jiggaboogaloo/the Legend of Jheri Curly’s Gold? I don’t know. Given that the movie did manage to spawn (no Michael Jai White pun intended) a cartoon series, and given the lengths of hilarious overkill said series took our titular hero to, I think BD has gone as far as he can go, really. And that’s fine. After all, look at what happened with Austin Powers. After three of those Mike Myers lost his mind and made The Love Guru just to make people hate him so they’d stop begging him to do more Austin Powers sequels! No, let’s not go overboard. Let’s leave the Black Dynamite legacy as it stands and just enjoy it this way: in its purest, blackest form. It’ll give you a zest for some kung-fu treachery!

Happy Black History month, everybody! Now, I’ve gotta go solicit a miner for our next episode, so you go watch Amistad or Glory or Roots or Ghost Dad or something. But no Tyler Perry movies! That’s racist.

Moral(s) of the Story: Black Dynamite is a bevy of educational content. Here are just a few of the valuable lessons to be learned by ALL races from this movie:

  • You haven’t reached the apex of societal status until you’ve got an 8 Track player in EVERY ROOM.
  • Donuts don’t wear alligator shoes. If you see one as such, shoot it without question.

  • Waffles are like Xanax for irate black men… thus I now suspect Leslie Knope is a secret black man.

  • Black dudes LOVE Greek & Romanc mythology. They know that shit like the lyrics to the Commodores catalog!

  • Abraham Lincoln was so hardcore about watching the black man’s back, that he’s still doing it from beyond the grave!

  • When you pop the top, the panties drop!… unless you’re popping Top Pop Blue Pop, in which case I will break your fingers if you don’t hand it over. That stuff’s my crack. I’ve been dry for 15 years, but I will turn like a lycanthrope in the light of a full moon if I ever see it again.

Screenshots_____

You know those times where you’re REALLY hoping that the people around you don’t realize you’re the one who farted? They know.
If Tom Atkins and Kurtwood Smith had a baby.


An old woman somewhere is going cold this winter… a very tall old woman.


Those scrolls? They all say “Made in China. May contain dangerous levels of lead.”


“Who? Okay, hold on. Let me check. ‘AMANDA HUGGENKISS’? ‘AMANDA HUGGENKISS’?! Awwww, why can’t I find Amanda Huggenkiss?!”


And number one on this week’s Threatdown? BEARS! AND THEY’RE ALIGNING WITH BLACK MILITANTS! All white people and salmon, run for the hills! Wait! Not the hills! There are BEARS there! Ahhhhh!


Normally I have to say NO to ascots. But, damn it, I love you Bullhorn!


You may be afraid of his fist, but you SHOULD be afraid of the other fist he’s got hidden in his mustache. Hits WAY harder than the one in Chuck Norris’ beard.


“Sorry my brothers, but ever since Disney bought Marvel, they’ve been threatening to sue us if we don’t change our name. Now, we can fight the Man, but we can’t go to war with Disney. If we publicly announce that we’re the African-American Panthers now, they’ll call off their lawyers.”


She’s a liberated, modern woman. She doesn’t carry feminine trappings like a purse. She keeps her keys and other necessities in her hair.


After taking in a down-on-his-luck Bullhorn, Black Dynamite comes home to discover a very angry looking dump left on his favorite area rug. Looks like somebody’s going back to the shelter!


Poor kid just got a whiff or Dynamite’s mustache.


David Hyde Pierce’s post-“Frasier” career just isn’t working out like he’d hoped.


“Citizens need not fear though, as Mayor Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson has vowed to ‘Layeth more smack down’ in coming weeks.”


Looks like this guy also got a whiff of BD’s mustache.


The “worst nightmare” scenario for any member of the Republican party.


Don’t worry Dynamite, EVERY guy makes that face when he watches a live birth. We don’t think you any less of a man.

Anubis will return next time in
“Miner Indiscretions”

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.