Featuring: Alexandra “Boy Meets Girl” Turshen , Keenan “First Person” Henson , Caitlin “‘Continuum’” Cromwell
Writer & Director: Bradley “Clearly wrote his own IMDB biography” Stryker
The Evil Dead Bride and your humble narrator were perusing the alcohol offerings at NileMart the other day when we discovered that, not long after the re-emergence (and re-disappearance) of Crystal Pepsi, fellow transparent ’90s punchline drink Zima is now also back on the market. My long standing theory that the latter is just a fermented form of the former? Confirmed.
Pop culture footnote beverage humor aside, after finally conquering the world’s Russia problem with my last review (The Guardians), it’s time to live up to my promises, play a game of ketchup (“catsup” if you’re nasty) and get the circus train back on its tracks. Well, not the whole circus. It’s more like I’m about to abandon an overbooked clown car on a railroad crossing, let the 7:06 bullet from Tarker’s Mill do the dirty work for me, then all I’ve gotta do is report on the aftermath.
In the interest of transparency, I admit that I’m taking some liberties when it comes to Land of Smiles being a killer clown flick, especially when it comes to the whole “painted horrors” technicality, but if the oozing cold sore on America’s dick can give ethics the tiny middle finger by appointing government positions to his defective offspring and filling his cabinet with the highest bidders, I can bend the rules of the Republic of Tombistan. Though the movie’s antagonists conceal their faces under the visage of sinister jesters, they do so with rubber masks, possibly purchased from the clearance bin of a Spirit Halloween pop-up store. It’s not like the world’s lacking in movies out in the nebulous “there” that center on actual grease-painted murderous mirth makers, I just thought I could use a little change of subgenre scenery. It’s not as if I signed any kind of contract (at least not one that falls under the jurisdiction of any mortal justice system) saying I can’t, so just make like a shed uterine lining and go with the flow, Joe!
The basis for Smiles is nothing new. It’s about backpacking Americans whose vacation to a beautiful country they’ve never been to before leads to the reveal of a seamy underbelly that threatens to swallow them whole in its gaping maw of stranger danger, inducing increased paranoia in any members of its audience who already didn’t need any more reasons to never take a vacation beyond pitching tents and making s’mores in their own backyard. See Wolf Creek, Turistas, A Perfect Getaway, Eli Roth’s Hostel flicks and, of course, The Hangover Part II. I would’ve included The Ruins on that list, but that’s supernatural horror and thus does not fall under the “people from other countries are the real monsters” xenophobia gimmick.
Our vulnerable young travelers begging to never be heard from again are lifelong friends and overly confident American college students Abby (Aleandra Turshen) and Penny (Krista Donargo). Having planned a trip to Thailand together for the longest time (oh, oh, oh, for the longest time), Abby earns her BFF of 19 years’ ire when she backs out of their girls only vacation to stay near her boyfriend Brad (Brandon Nagle), who more than likely didn’t like the idea of his girlfriend being half-way across the globe and possibly getting peanut sauce licked off her ass by some beefcake with jungle herpes.
In a moment that can only be scripted (and poorly at that), Ab’s sacrifice of Pen’s friendship blows up in her face almost instantaneously when her attempt to surprise Brad with a candlelit cupcake (birthday/anniversary?) leads to her walking in on Brad in the middle of a Skinemax bump n’ hump session with Lacy (Charisse Bellante) – a random blonde who comes off just as “trashy party girl who’s upset she never got to be in a Girls Gone Wild DVD” in her sex making as her name would suggest. To any Lacys out there who take offense to that, I’m sorry, but maybe your parents shouldn’t have named you after a style of lingerie trim.
Blinded by confusion and rage, Abby unleashes a few shots of Cowboy Mike’s Extra Bold Red Hot Ricochet Pepper Spray upon the ocular orbs of the indignant fornicators, apologizing at first before revoking said formality and storming out in justified rage. If you think pepper spray’s a little intense, these two are just lucky Abby’s probably too young to remember the whole Lorena Bobbitt episode. However, as is all too common the case, the cupcake is the true victim of the break up. Poor thing’s probably going to be swallowed up by the foster system like so many little lost souls before it. If you would, say a little prayer for the cupcake’s well being tonight while you’re taking your pre-bedtime dump, won’t you?
Of course Abby couldn't have made this discovery before Penny’s departure, so now she’ll play some ketchup of her own and do the first leg of their itinerary solo. No idea why she couldn’t have just traveled ahead and met Nickel immediately, but then we wouldn’t have a movie. Why? Because Dime gets kidnapped. Not ready to cancel your plane tickets to Thailand yet? Well, the people who take her are dressed in those aforementioned clown masks. Calling the airline now to see if you can get a refund? I thought so. Besides, why travel when you can spend summer break crashed on your couch in your underthings (or, if you’re like myself, au natural) with the AC cranked to “Absolute Zero” as you eat can after can of overstuffed ravioli and play your favorite video games? I’m currently working through Saint’s Row IV right now. Did you know you can dress up your character in a MechaGodzilla costume?! It’s true taint-tingling terrificness!
Anyway, Abby isn’t aware of her sister-from-another-mister’s peril, so she simply does the tourist thing for a bit as intended. Her only communications from Quarter involve random pics without any accompanying messages to explain them, which our heroine chalks up to her still having rump rash about the whole “I’d rather spend summer break with the boyfriend that you’ve repeatedly informed me is a heaping piece of pooper pie than go to on a tropical dream vacation with my oldest, dearest friend” drama. Along her travels, she meets a pair of fellow out-of-towners in Ben (Keenan Henson) and Jewel (Caitlyn Cromwell/Stryker, the writer-director’s wife), who approach her under the most suspicious of methods when Ben steals her backpack. He returns it to her right after though, calking it up to a lesson that she should keep on her toes lest she be destitute (given that she’s already Pennyless *rimshot*) and giving bareback Around the Worlds to American businessmen by Tuesday.
A bit douchey, but in that “big brother tough love” sorta way, Abby accepts the advice as well as the offer to tag along with the couple. Their reason for being in Thailand is so Brad can traverse the whole of Southern Asia, shooting a wanna-be VICE style vid about the things backpackers experience while trekking through third world countries. I think. I don’t really know what his point is, because it all just looks like a tourism video to sell Thai travel packages to college kids back in the states. They also fraternize with a fellow outsider named Dale (writer-director Brad Stryker), an Aussie guy there for the nightlife, the pretty scenery, and to bang as many random prostitutes dressed in “sexy (career here)” Halloween costumes as his down under can afford. I’d advise him to make sure the females he’s bedding are actual females, given that it’s Thailand and all, but somehow Dale seems like the type of guy that wouldn’t really care either way once his Foster’s and Cialis cocktail kicked in.
And for anyone protesting that Foster’s isn’t what actual Australians drink, it’s okay. Stryker was born in fucking Oregon, so he’s about as not an actual Australian as a white person can get. His put-on accent (as in “put-on like Kris Kross’ pants – incorrectly”) will support me on that.
When Abby does finally get the confirmation video that Half-Dollar has been Taken-ed, the young lady’s clown cloaked absconders have two simple demands – (1) Do NOT tell anyone about the crime and (2) continue on with the plans to rock n’ roll all night and party every day. If Abs can ignore the anxiety of her best friend’s peril and embrace the drunken American party girl stereotype inside her that she came to Thailand to rediscover in the first place, then they’ll release their abductee and the girls can be reunited. That’s…weird. Have I been lied to my entire life and the point of kidnappings isn’t to demand ransoms, but rather force people to live the Miller High Life?! Because as much as I love some of the people in my life, I wouldn’t be willing to drink excessively of such bottled piss swill for the return of some of them.
Fortunately, it turns out that this isn’t so much the case. When Absinthe breaks the first rule of fight club and talks about fight club with B&J, Ben (last name “Dover”?) introduces her to the world of Southern Asia’s newest craze – staged abductions! Seems that there’s a whole subgenre of today’s Generation Meme culture dedicated to setting up false kidnappings for the sake of “reminding people how to have fun”, then posting the reaction videos online when the victim is told it was all for funsies. Just psychologically scarring, emotionally terrorizing, friendship shattering funsies. Fucking people and their fucking reaction videos. It was funny for about 5 minutes in the wake of the “2 Girls 1 Cup” epidemic, but I never wanna see another one of those stupid things again. Unless it involves the kind of reaction George Clooney had when he found Brad Pitt hiding in his closet. Now THAT’s a multi-million views moment!
(Today’s lesson: don’t come out of the closet to Worst Batman)
Additionally, what the frosted fucks does that ambiguous “reminding people how to have fun” description mean? In this case, “people” refers to adults and “have fun” refers to intoxicating ones self to the point of long term brain damage because your friends apparently only like you when you're making as asshole out of yourself in public, throwing up $60 in margaritas, and blacking out so you can put yourself at risk of being sexually assaulted by any horny festering pustule excuse for a human being that happens to be passing by. Given the length of that explanation, you can see the need for the “TL;DR” version provided.
And so we’re left with the mystery of whether this is a legitimate criminal situation by a Thai maniac clowning with their prey, or if it’s all just a really shitty scheme by Hay Penny to make Abby abandon the maturity of adulthood and “loosen up”. Which is just a dickhead way of Sixpence (who’s none the richer… *rimshot*) saying that she fundamentally intends to drag her friend down so she herself doesn’t need to be alone in her terror of growing up and assuming responsibilities that she’s not ready for. Could she have opted for a less vindictive, “Reverse Jigsaw” method? Maybe. But that would kill Stryker’s entire effort to make something he likely mistook as being “visionary”.
Not only does what could have been a decent little flick foil itself in the finish with a fumbled finale, but Stryker opted to be the seventy-thousandth indie movie director to think they’re the one who’s going to breathe unasked for life into the fetid, deflated lungs of the “found footage” movie, completely ignoring the Do Not Resuscitate notice the subgenre has hanging around its neck. And it’s not even some semi-reasonable bullshit like the Paranormal Activity security cam footage concept, it’s just yet another instance of the characters shooting their own videos of the proceedings, likely until they all die, never putting the camera down no matter how much immediate peril they’re put in. Once they’re dead, all of this “found footage” then gets spliced (I guess “merged” would be the modern digital version?) by some unknown editor who cobbles together a single project whose final cut just happens to be very movie-like, both in structure and length, and includes numerous clearly not found helicopter shots and professionally framed footage of the landscapes. Sounds like mister first-time feature couldn’t play it casual and stick with his own theme. I guess you can’t “make the environment a character” without pricey aerial establishing shots, eh?
Land of Smiles makes some attempt at explaining itself in the finish, but does about as well as a stoner trying to explain to their probation officer that their eyes are red because they “just have bad hay fever”. It even comes with a lazy, forced Shyamalanian pseudo-twist hanging off of its ass, metaphorically wrapping the whole thing up in a way that’s equivalent to actually wrapping a broken toaster with soiled newspapers, not unlike those I put around Bastet’s litter box so she won’t track her shit grit into my bed during one of her 2am “u up?” booty calls. I haven’t been this aggravated about such a fucking stupid, pointless, shoved-in-dry, “for the sake of getting one over on the audience” Chubby Checker conclusion since The Bone Collector (aka “That there Bone Crusher” to quote a private joke). It’s not even the whole ending, either! If you circumcised Styrker’s failed attempt at being cutesy with his end credits sequence, it would’ve been a perfectly fine ending to a mediocre thriller. As is, though, you may audibly boo it the same way I did. Try not to wake up your downstairs neighbor when you do so the same way I did, otherwise you too will have very awkward mailbox interactions for the next few days also…
All of that nonsense aside (if you can put the last minute alteration of the entirety of the movie’s story “aside”), Stryker’s other major effort goes into the “ugly behind the beauty” theme he seems to believe he himself created. In case the fact that you’re watching a HORROR movie titled Land of Smiles is too subtle for you, the guy includes numerous shots of beautiful locales populated by beautiful people having beautiful good times with beautiful beautiful party party yadda yadda blah blah inter-cut with moments of our protagonists freaking out (again and again and again) and vids of Penny maybe-or-maybe not being tortured. It’s juxtaposition overload! It’s the hallmark of a film school student who doesn’t respect their audience’s intelligence/awareness, so they spend too much time hitting us over the head with it to make sure we get the point. Though, as we all know, no one will ever truly get the deep introspective point of Mr. Stryker’s art because, well, he’s a creator while we the audience are simply refuse in his path to brilliance.
Except for those who leave 8+ star reviews on IMDB. Clearly they “get it”…
In case you require more evidence of my claim (like the police insisted on that time I accused my aforementioned downstairs neighbor of shitting on my doormat), observe the name of Stryker's self-production company as Exhibit D –
That’s not a ‘shop job, kids. He actually calls it “Stryke-Force Films”. A guy who wants us to take his very serious horror movie very seriously sticks a name like that onto the opening. For Francis Ford Fuckula’s sake, this is not a hoax, not a dream, not an imaginary tale. This is for real. He’s Tommy Wiseau without the charming Ed Wood-ian naivete. I can only hope that whichever family members he conned into putting up the money for this vacation-turned-movie are the “more money than brains” type, otherwise I fell sorry for them.
But, despite all of this fresh personal contempt I’ve discovered for one Bradley Stryker, Land of Smiles isn’t a terrible movie. It’s better-than-bad without quite reaching the lofty levels of “good” as established by Log (*from BLAMMO!™). It at least makes an effort to do something uncommon if not new (even going so far as name dropping The Game as the in-continuity inspiration for the fake kidnapping business), and the cast (excluding Stryker’s needlessly Australian Dale that is) does a well enough job conveying their fear to keep playing along while Ben urges the girls on. Whether his motivations are as altruistic for Penny as he claims them to be, or he just wants to finish his video project like the girls have growing suspicions of is never entirely clear, which works in the flick’s favor. Oh, and if you close your eyes, there are times you’d swear Keenan Henson’s lines were being delivered by a manic Vince Vaughn. It’s neither a pro nor a con, really, unless you’re Isla Fisher’s character from Wedding Crashers, in which case it’ll probably create a babbling brook down your thigh.
I have a titanium firm “no toilet sex” rule, but ever since that movie she gets an exclusive pass. Well, her and Barbara “Megan Halsey” Crampton, but she’s of an unlimited classification all her own. Don’t ask me the acts I would do for that woman, lest ye have a cast iron constitution or have long lost your soul to the dark horrors of the internet.
Oh, back on topic, as much as I hate The Blair Witch Project for its piss poor “let’s just say ‘fuck’ a lot because we can’t ad lib to save our thrice damned lives” improvised dialogue, it was at least more realistic than a lot of the supposedly “real footage” exchanges in Land of Smiles. Blame the actors for not being able to make it believable or blame Stryker for a clunky script, but either way it doesn’t help sell the lie that we’re meant to get lost in. In spite of my gripes about this, the crap ending, and a shooting style too schizo to settle on whether it’s trying to be a traditional movie or a vacation video, the movie is still oddly watchable! Weird, right?! I know! I’m as shocked to type it as you are to read it! So, yeah, there are way worse ways to wear out your eyeballs for an hour or two and if that’s enough of an endorsement for you to seek LoS out, have at it, friends.
Whether Brad (the director, not the cheating boyfriend…though Stryker could very well be the type who needs a woman to tell him he has a big dick to perform) can parlay his first feature into a career win in the long run or not, only time will tell. Whether the sparks of potential are enough to feed a flame of success, at least he can fall back on his extensive work as a bit part player in TV shows and direct-to-DVD movies. It may not make him a household name, but at least it pays the bills!… I presume.
My role as the grand marshal of this parade of fools continues next time (and four or so times again after that) with a movie that’s, well, less a movie than a digital version of a lost Hippolytus de Marsiliis torture method. While you look that name up, I’m gonna casually slip away via the escape hatch I had installed under my desk… CIAO!
“I never understood how these stupid horoscopes work. What does my having been born in the first week of November have to do with not being compatible with someone born in mid-June?! I call bullshit… So, what does mine say?
I understand that this guy’s probably doing the clown thing to work out some deeply depressing personal issues, but you may not want to do the “limp flower as a metaphor for my erectile dysfunction” bit around the ladies.
“Shit! That’s the fourth iPhone I’ve lost to the porcelain Sarlak pit this year! There goes the rest of my savings.”
Sarah and Elaine’s attempt to resurrect the “Girls Gone Wild” series with all of the drinking and partying minus the nudity and “lesbian stuff” proved grossly unsuccessful.
“Why do you need such a big backpack?”
“So I can sleep inside it at night while hanging it from a tree to avoid bears!”
“I keep telling ya, love, even if there were sharks this far inland, they wouldn’t come after ya! Just because you’re on your period doesn’t mean you’re ‘bikini chum’!”
“I don’t get it. I ask you what a ‘lemon party’ is and now you’re recording me watching a video? You’re so weird.”
“I hope you’re at least not being cheap and paid extra for a reach around, Greg.”
“Welcome to ‘Clowning Around’ with your host, Zippo VonLaughsalot. This week’s contestant is Janet, and she’ll be playing ‘What’s Crawling On My Leg?’ for her chance at a $25 Best Buy gift card!”
“I know it’s tradition to swallow the worm when drinking a bottle of Mezcal, but that thing last night… it had a face… a human face! I swear it looked at me and mouthed my name before… before… oh god, what have I done?!”
Oh jeez. I hooked up with her at last call a month ago and the bitch gave me crabs. Let’s just go before she… DON’T MAKE EYE CONTACT WITH HER! GAH! RUN!
It’s sad to know I will never be as happy as she is right now. Let’s not ruin it and tell her that every stray cat in the neighborhood makes that place their litter box.
Uh-oh! Looks like some tourists discovered their hotel’s hidden toilet cameras!
I’m not the most culturally educated man-jackal, but I can’t imagine it’s very sanitary of Thailand letting elephants just leave piles of number two in their human restrooms.
Laugh all you like, but lonely weirdos pay $200 a night just to watch her sleep on a webcam site!
“You know what I hate? Stupid assholes in goofy rubber clown masks that sneak up on people to try and scare them… Damn it, there’s one right behind me, isn’t there?”
“Wow! These Gushers fruit snacks really are bursting with fruit flavor!”
This is why I stopped going to the local beer garden during carnival season.
And this is why I started going to the local strip club during carnival season!
Anubis will return in
“The Inbred Clown Posse”
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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.
Featuring: Kurt “Escape From New York” Russell , Rosario “Clerks II” Dawson , Zoë “Game of Death (2011)” Bell
Director & Writer: Quentin “Inglourious Basterds” Tarantino
Also Known As: Death Proof
I mean, “proof”… here’s Death Proof…
Quentin Tarantino comes in with the second feature of Grindhouse and, unlike Planet Terror‘s demolition derby of start-to-finish action and gore, Death Proof makes you earn that privilege by sitting through a lot of characterization and dialogue first. In other words, it’s a Tarantino movie. I’ve never had a problem with Quentin’s movies, I just hate the man himself because he’s a spazzy little pissant that should never be allowed to do interviews or step foot in the general public. But, if I was going to be slowly driven insane by listening to actors spew lines of vulgarity and pop culture references at each other until it pulled a Chinese Water Torture on my frontal lobe, I’d want it to be written by QT…or Kevin Smith.
Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) is, well, a former stuntman, in case you didn’t catch that part of his name. Mike used to do a lot of “falling off horses” stand-in work in the old days of TV westerns before falling back on car crash stunts when he ran out of actors to look like. But, in this modern day of Hollywood penny pinching bullshit like computer graphics imaging, jobs are scarce for guys like Mike. With all this free time on his hands, Mike’s got plenty of opportunities to find new ways to keep himself entertained. Whereas most normal guys would simply work on their porn collection or take up a hobby like pyrography, Mike instead discovered his new fetish: killing women!
Mike’s technique of choice isn’t anything as simple as stabbing, shooting or strangulation, though. Instead, he likes to involve them in violent car wrecks the likes of which no one could ever possibly walk away from. This way, said meticulously plotted slaughters can never really be seen as anything more than one guy’s unfortunate string of car wrecks. Would-be accusations of stuff like “premeditated murder” are immediately followed by stuff like “no concrete evidence”, so Mike gets away with little more than a brief stint in a hospital room for a broken bone or two, which is all in a day’s work for a stuntman anyway. But how does SM pull off such a thing without getting himself an early ride to the grave in the process? Turns out that stuntmen can super reinforce a car in a way that guarantees the driver will not be killed should the car be otherwise destroyed. This method is called…wait for it… “death proofing”.
That’s right kids, we have ourselves a title.
So, we have our antagonist. Now, where will we find him some victims? Enter Abernathy (Rosario Dawson), Kim (Tracie Thoms), Lee (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Zoe (real life stuntwoman Zoe Bell as herself!) – four friends looking for fun. Ab, Kim and Lee are all on break from their current jobs on the set of the latest Lindsey Lohan tripe, which gives them time to hang out with their pal Zoe who’s in town visiting from New Zealand. Seems that while she’s here, Zoe plans to live out a longtime goal of riding on the hood of a car (a game she calls “ship’s mast”) that’s the exact make and model of her panty-peeler fantasy ride from the cult classic carsploitation movie Vanishing Point – a white 1970 Dodge Challenger.
As luck would have it, such a car is being offered for sale by one of the yokels in the Tennessee area where the ladies are residing! After Ab sweet talks the car’s slack-jawed stereotype into letting the gals take a test drive (which includes a terrifying allusion to leaving Lee, cheerleader costume and all, behind so Billy-Bob can “get to know her”), the remaining trio of ladies take the Challenger out for a spin. Too bad for the babes that what starts off as a dream come true for Zoe turns into a car chase nightmare when who else but our homicidal hombre Mike, out of the hospital and behind the wheel of his newly proofed Chevy Nova, is back on the prowl to grind more fresh lady flesh under his Goodyears. What follows is one of the greatest car chase finales since The Road Warrior.
As mentioned before, the movie’s a bit talky. Since Grindhouse is over 3 hours long, people are going to be begging for any opportunity to hit the restroom and empty their Pampers. My best recommendation would be to drain the reservoirs during the first 20 minutes of so of Death Proof. If you love Tarantino’s writing you might want to ignore what I just said, but if you’re not the type who absolutely must see half an hour or so of characters being established only to have all of that effort flushed in the long run, heed my words. I could live with seeing everything before the first car accident scene trimmed down considerably, then leaving the last half of the movie as is, to be honest. But, like everything else on this website, that’s just my opinion. Despite the innately inessential opening act, the latter half of the flick makes sitting through the first half so worth the effort.
Kurt Russell looks like he had as much fun playing the weathered Stuntman Mike as Tarantino probably had directing the whole movie (despite its lack of his infamous inclusion of n-word carpet bombing the script). The man-who-was-Snake runs the range from funny to creepy to charming to pathetic and he does it all with a wink and a smile. His performance is nothing if not a blast to watch… sorry, “blast” was the best word I could come up with when typing this.
The cast of gals are all having a lot of fun here too and it shows. Zoe Bell should definitely mix in more actual acting roles with her stunt work (FYI: she was Uma Thurman’s double for the Kill Bill movies) and she looks like she’s genuinely having a pisser of a time riding that hood. Tracie Thoms is the definition of “crazy bitch” as she hoots, hollers and curses her way through the last 30 minutes of the movie and makes me wish I was cool enough to hang out with her. And Rosario Dawson? I’ve fallen in love with her all over again since the first time she made me do so in Clerks II. She’s cool, she’s sweet, she’s hot, she’s adorable, she’s a FUCKING COMIC GEEK and, when it gets down to it, she’s a hellacious bruiser! Her best moment? Wait till about two seconds after “The End” pops up on the screen and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
As with Planet Terror, everybody else on the credits scroll did their job and that’s about all I can say about that. Eli Roth (who directed the Thanksgiving trailer I’ll be mentioning later) and Tarantino himself have small roles too – Quentin as a friendly bartender and Roth as a patron at said bar trying to get his ovarian target for the night drunk enough to go home with her. Can’t say I blame him though, as I can only imagine the looks he gets when he tells chicks, “Yeah, I’m the guy who made Hostel! Wanna go back to my place and shit on my chest?”.
Aside from the two or three hundred movie references Tarantino drops throughout the dialogue (you’d think he was making a commission on DVD sales from these things…), I’m sorry to say that I’m not a follower of car chase flicks, so many of the tribute pieces were probably lost on me. For instance, if my mother-in-law hadn’t pointed out that the chrome duck hood ornament on Mike’s car was an homage to one used in the movie Convoy, I would’ve just seen a stupid chrome rubber duck. The one thing that I did pick up on (at least I think so…) was a scene where Stuntman Mike plows through a roadside movie marquee advertising a double feature for Scary Movie 4 and a Wolf Creek sequel. Somebody correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m gonna say that this is a little tribute to Wes Craven’s now classic use of a torn Jaws poster in the original The Hills Have Eyes as a way to say that the latter was a superior scare flick in comparison to the former. Did Tarantino use this to say that the double feature in Grindhouse is superior to an imaginary double feature of these other non-existent movies, or am I just reading too much into it? More importantly, do you care? Me neither.
As far as the Grindhouse gimmick goes, Tarantino shies away from the liberal use of film scratches and superficial burns that Rodriguez leaned on for Planet Terror, opting instead for other loving faux faults like audio hiccups and a couple of frames missing from the reel that cause cars to suddenly disappear, small pieces of conversation to be left out and people to magically teleport from one place to another. He also does a great bit with the opening credits, in which the title card for the movie’s original fake original title of “Quentin Tarantino’s Thunder Bolt” is clipped out for a generic looking still of the alternate title (that of course being “Death Proof”) printed in white on a base black background. That was a definite favorite moment for me. This movie’s “Missing Reel” moment is a lap dance scene that I couldn’t care less about missing to be honest, so if this was never shot and doesn’t make it into the DVD, I won’t mind.
For you trivia hounds out there, Stuntman Mike got into the stuntman biz through his brother, Stuntman Bob. If that helps you win ‘Jeopardy’ someday, you owe me 20%!
All in all, I meant what I said and I said what I meant: I recommend Grindhouse 100%. And now, for the “coming attractions”…
I’m going to talk about two of Grindhouse’s fake trailers here and the other two in my review for Planet Terror, so if you haven’t checked that out yet, do so when you’re done here.
The first trailer (which is actually the third trailer shown throughout the length of the double feature) is Don’t. In a hilarious lampooning of the infamous “Don’t [Action to be Disparaged Goes Here]” movie titles US release companies gave European releases in the States during the sleazy ‘70s, Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright previews a fake movie for us about people trapped in a haunted house, including the director’s frequent collaborators Nick Frost and Simon Pegg. Pushing the joke all the way, the trailer is entirely narration (by Will Arnett) with none of the actors getting off any actual lines, a trick used by said US releasing companies 30 years ago when they didn’t want potential audience members to know that the European movies being released under these new pseudonyms were cast with actors of heavy accents, worried it would turn people off. Much like Shaun of the Dead, this trailer’s literally brilliant and uses the underlying humor of its source material to full comedy effect. If I were the kind of guy who rated trailers, this would be a five star all the way!
Our final trailer is from Cabin Fever horror wunderkind Eli Roth, who brings us a parody of ‘70s and ‘80s holiday gimmick slasher movies called Thanksgiving that seems to be equal parts Halloween and My Bloody Valentine homage humor. The trailer goes for total shock factor, dick slapping everybody with graphically implied sex scenes and over-the-top gore. To put it in terms of audience reaction, everybody in the theater was laughing for Don’t, then groaning and gasping as loud and painfully as possible for Thanksgiving. Severed heads aplenty here, along with Cinemax level softcore scenes of chicks giving out blow jobs like they were Christian propaganda fliers, a disturbing scene of a topless cheerleader on a trampoline getting a very sharp alternative to a Tampax shoved up her birth canal, and a baffling final scene of someone cooked and stuff like a giant turkey before a very brief glimpse of what looks like Roth himself being sodomized at a dinner table…what the fuck?! Roth has shown he likes shock value over “artistic vision” and I’d definitely watch Thanksgiving as a feature, just to say I sat through it without blinking…because I’m a desensitized sociopath. Though I can appreciate some fairly done graphic violence and sex, the actual urge to see something like this isn’t as inspiring as I think the man was trying to do. 3 out of 5.
Xtro: Okay, for starters allow me to redact my pissing and moaning about Tarantino being a spaz, as it’s hypothesized that the mad genius of genre tropes and snappy dialogue may well have Asperger’s or at least fall somewhere on the autistic spectrum. I’m not saying he needs to be pitied as a result, I’m just over being annoyed by his manic mannerisms and “too much cocaine in his coffee” personality. Considering the mental demolition derby I’ve been involved in in recent years myself, that would also make me a bit of a hypocrite. And remember kids, it’s not hip to be a hypocrite… just ignore the difference in spelling there. My PSA is still viable, G.I. Jerkoff.
Unlike Planet Terror, Death Proof‘s special effects skew more traditional to the grindhouse theme, opting for what at least looks like 100% practical magic (housewife witchery not included) rather than dicking with digital deceptions. This ain’t no Fast and Furious fuckery, fanboys! This is a straight up traditional car-on-car bump n’ grind! And what did R. Kelly teach us before he was trapped in his closet and pissing on teenage girls? There ain’t nothin’ wrong with a little bump n’ grind. Or, if you too were raised on Mad Max movies (like moi) or those classic off-the-radar car flicks of the ’70s, the old way is the only way. It’s an art form that, depressingly, has fallen victim to technology and breaks my heart…well, except for Mad Max: Fury Road, because I pray George Miller my soul to keep.
Tarantino also made Death Proof with what you’d imagine to be an anorexic budget, as its 2 hour run time takes place in fewer locations than an agoraphobic’s weekly routine. So much of it happens in a honky-tonk bar or a diner or on back roads or just in the cars themselves that it has to be Quentin’s most minimalist shoot outside of Reservoir Dogs and The Hateful Eight. This doesn’t keep the man from shooting it all beautifully with his usual “100 different angles” style though, and even for someone who hasn’t spent so much as 5 minutes in a film class, it brings a tear to my eye and a jealousy to my heart. Speaking of jealousy, I imagine that most of the obscure movie posters and paraphernalia that decorates the sets belong to Tarantino himself, which no doubt saved a fair amount of pressure on the prop budget…unless he was smart and used said budget to buy a bunch of cool shit he himself didn’t already have, then just pocketed everything when the job was done.
The cast is fantastic, the direction and cinematography are beautiful (moreso if you’re a foot fetishist like QT, far less so if you’re a podophobic like my mother-in-law), if you’re a fan of Tarantino’s usual heavily scripted free-flowing dialogue by characters who would all kick your ass at Trivial Pursuit you’ll be happy to know it’s all there, the soundtrack is pitch perfect (because it’s gods damned Quentin Tarantino, so of fucking course it is), and the stunts are so eye blisteringly stellar that the team deserves a friggin’ constellation named after them! It’s almost a perfect movie. But…
The biggest problem I first had with DP (huh huh huh) was watching it directly after having sat through the 100+ minutes of Planet Terror. Even if I weren’t a lightweight when it comes to theatrical marathons (I’ve only watched two movies back-to-back in a theater twice), following up a zombie slaughtering action-comedy with a “talkie” that takes the better part of an hour before it sheds any blood? It’s a rough transition. I wouldn’t blame anyone who walked out, fell asleep in their seat, or passed on paying for a ticket altogether. Even as its own entity, I still have a major issue with the movie’s structure: it sandblasts my ass to introduce and flesh out a cast of characters just to kill them off halfway through the movie and introduce a second cast of would-be victims after. Why? Because the only person we follow throughout the flick is Stuntman Mike, but he’s less a main character than a catalyst! He’s the antagonist, fine, but we get no inclination of his motivation beyond that he’s a former fall guy who really hates women for… some… reason. Want to excuse this as part of the bad movie gimmick? No. If you’re giving us snappy dialogue delivered by talented actors but leaving out important background details about the only constant character in the movie, that’s flying like a lead zeppelin full of mud sharks.
My other gripe is the inconsistency of the grindhouse mimicry. The gimmick shit comes on heavy in the first few minutes with intentionally awkward cuts, audio skips, and that great title card change paving the way (pun intended). The grimy grainy motif carries on throughout the first half, but then the second half starts on an incredibly clean black & white scene (of which QT is keen) for reasons unseen. The colors come back on after the new apples of Mike’s evil eye are introduced, but the crisp look continues on until the finale. It’s an absolute orgasm for the oculars, especially now being able to see the grand 20 minute vroom vroom chase in 1080p, but why drop the titular shtick?! Punch my ticket and tickle my pickle.
And if you’re wondering if Tarantino’s penchant for excessively over-salting his scripts with a Lt. Col. Killgore level carpet-bombing of the n-word (and no, that’s not short for “napalm”), then yes. Not Samuel L. Jackson levels, granted, but Tracie Thoms does utter enough “niggas” to give Jeff Sessions a semi. So, if hearing said term churns your aural sensibilities, your ears will not be spared here.
While my reunion with Planet Terror reminded me just how much fun it is to watch, seeing Death Proof again bore me an all new respect for it. Despite my criticisms, I do appreciate the ass off of it! It’s not Quentin Tarantino’s best (in fact, he’s called it his worst), but it’s only one shelf below top shelf, and that makes it money in my book.
With that, kiddies, it’s time to say goodbye. Join us next episode when we get a visit from a certain team of super powered people who “guard” humanity from evil…
Moral of the Story: Bars offer all manner of pleasantries outside of booze. Alcohol is simply the lubricant for social interaction… unless you’re me, in which case alcohol is the legal anesthetic through which my body pisses off my brain by becoming completely unresponsive to any and all commands.
“I’m so glad I cut an emergency hole in all of my pants so I can plug up any unexpected leakage issues! Why doesn’t everybody do this?!”
“And then the monster was all like, ‘FIRE BAD!’ and shit. Hahahaha.”
“Bitch, does this look like an Appletini? If I wanted a margarita, I would’ve asked you to get me a margarita!”
Eli Roth wasn’t quite prepared for the vitriolic text he received from Keanu Reeves following the critical response to Knock Knock.
Cousin It spends yet another Saturday night dressed in drag and picking up strange men in bars, despite promising the rest of the Addams that it would never happen again after that weekend he spent locked up in Roman Polanski’s basement.
Special cameo by Eddie Izzard!
I wonder if he got that scar from eating pussy… or “pineapple” if we’re being censored.
In case you forgot you were watching a Quentin Tarantino movie. Oh well, it could be worse. At least his fetish isn’t school girls showing live eels up their butts or octogenarians shitting on Precious Moments Figurines!
If this were made in Japan, that would just be an indicator that she’s incredibly horny.
Beauford misread Jake’s comment and leaned in for a kiss that, sadly, would never come to pass. He and his broken heart resigned from the department shortly after to avoid the uncomfortable awkwardness between them that resulted, and spent the rest of his years married to Martha, dreaming of what could have been.
“Damn it, guys, I told you not to let Jenny have second and third helpings of chili for breakfast! I’m stuck back here with her for the next hour and it already smells like the ladies room at White Castle!”
A rare still from the long lost Michael Myers parody porn, “Hallowiener: Is That a Butcher Knife in Your Pocket, or Are You Just Happy to See Me?”. The producers were advised not to distribute it as a Betamax exclusive, but they insisted it was the wave of the future. But, as this ad proves, sometimes it takes more than sex to sell.
We’ve all been the odd one out when it came to 3 people riding in a 2 seater and you weren’t fast enough to call “shotgun”.
Despite his wealth and fame, Kurt Russell refuses to pay drive-in prices, opting instead to watch Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 from his neighbor’s roof.
“Well, it looks like Boss Hogg didn’t take too kindly to those Duke Boys leaving an upper decker in his private moonshine still, so it was up to Roscoe to put Bo and Luke on ice. And all this just hours before the annual Hazzard County ‘Wings & Wangs’ barbecue and penis measuring festival!”
Hey ladies, are your pants registered with Airbnb by any chance? Because I’d like to live in ’em for a few days while I’m in town! *rimshot*
“And THIS is for Overboard! You ruined my trust in men for years with what you did to Goldie Hawn, you sick freak!”
Anubis will return next time in
“In Soviet Russia, Copyright Laws Infringe You!”
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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.
Featuring: Rose “‘Charmed’” McGowan , Freddy “‘Six Feet Under’” Rodriguez , Josh “No Country for Old Men” Brolin
Director & Writer: Robert “From Dusk Till Dawn” Rodriguez
Also Known As: Planet Terror
What I meant to say with that unintentionally inflated introduction is that this review is from the rare Tomb vantage point of “written after returning from the theater”, so pardon any lack of important info I may have left out at the time of conception. Not unlike how your dad “forgot” to tell your mom that the condom slipped off shortly before what would be your own time of conception! Speaking of wet genitals…
Robert Rodriguez and I started off on the wrong foot. The first of his movies that I saw was Desperado. I didn’t like Desperado.
I remember being psyched about it after seeing the initial trailers, only to be greatly disappointed later in life when I finally did get to view it. Due in no small part to the fact that the adverts convinced me the movie was going to be 90 minutes of muy macho hombres in mariachi outfits killing each other with machine gun guitar cases. I think this was the moment I realized that trailers are teasing whores! They lure you in with promises of the best fuck of your life only to give you a dry hand job quickie, then demanding $200 before they have Dr. Detroit backhand you senseless with his pimp gauntlet and kick you in both shins with his platform shoes!
The pain of this Rodriguez trailer truth was eventually eased when I saw From Dusk Till Dawn, only to come back harder with all the kiddie fare bullshit the man shat out for the next decade. Having kids makes people do stupid, stupid things. I then got my hopes up when Once Upon A Time In Mexico was on its way to screens, only to have said hopes squeezed from me like a toothpaste tube ravaged by unruly brats who squeeze from the center. Monsters. Anyway, then came Sin City to finally stitch that wound closed. But…for how long?
And that brings us to Planet Terror, Bobby R’s contribution to his Tarantino collaboration – Grindhouse. Cherry (Rose McGowan) is a Texas go-go dancer fed up with her job who wants something new for her life beyond half-hearted stripteases. Perhaps a career as a stand-up comedian? Anyway, the little lady runs into her ex-boyfriend Wray (Freddy Rodriguez [no relation]) at the local BBQ dive and a renewed interest in each other is sparked in the process. Meanwhile, Dr. Dakota Block (Marley Shelton) is in the process of leaving her husband Dr. William Block (Josh Brolin) and running away with her son to go and live with her hot girlfriend. Unfortunately, both couples are about to get f’ed in their collective ‘a’s, because at a nearby military base US Army Lieutenant Muldoon (Bruce Willis) is in negotiations with Middle Eastern bio-terrorist/businessman Abby (Naveen Andrews)…who has a very sadistic hobby that, well, let’s just say it involves a source of protein.
Well, things go predictably sour between the two and the experimental gas that Abby’s been working on is released into the atmosphere, melting the faces of his henchmen and turning everybody into deformed, flesh eating maniacs! As with any standard zombie plague epic, it’s ghouls gone wild as the monsters make their way outward, infecting everybody they can get their bubbling hands on and causing general mayhem, including one victim who can only be described as “Mmmmm, Fergalicious”. The big thing that everybody’s looking forward to here though is the loss of Cherry’s leg, as it results in the equal parts absurdly hilarious and obscenely cool “machine gun leg” that’s become the movie’s most infamous characteristic. Don’t expect it right away though, because there’s actually a progression to said machine gun leg and, when it’s all said and done, even the machine gun leg isn’t the last trick in Cherry’s book of artificial limb weaponry…
Planet Terror is a total action flick “Penthouse Forums” letter from Robert Rodriguez to horror movies. Besides the obvious genre comparison to other zombie flicks, there are plenty of other references that Bobby tosses into the mix for the boils and ghouls to get giddy about when they start pointing them out to each other. These include but are not limited to Wray’s reference to his toe truck as “Killdozer”, a painful homage to Fulci’s famous “splinter to the eye” gore whore orgasm circa Zombie, and a great little death scene for Tom Savini himself that pays service to the man’s gory dismemberment work in both Dawn and Day of the Dead. This is how you make a horror tribute movie. Not by beating us over the head with non-stop dialogue dedicated to sucking the collective cocks of the old guard, but by giving your tributes celluloid form so those deserving of them can get the thrill of the old “inside joke”.
The gore is excessive and there were a few scenes of pustule-popping action that had one of my movie-going friends literally choking back her lunch. We get incredibly graphic and detailed exploding heads, severed limbs, gun shots wounds, stabbings, the aforementioned pustule eruptions, bodies splattered across cars, broken bones, hollowed out heads, and every kind of savage violence you could ask for to be done to a human body. Be warned though, because a dog gets killed in a very brief but very violent manner and there are barf friendly scenes of diseased and melting genitalia. There’s also one death that would be really depressing to see if it weren’t for the fact that you can’t help but laugh in the wacky “oh man, I knew that was gonna happen!” sense.
The characters are cheesy and I never really “cared” about any of them enough to say that I was sad to see them go when their times came. Their deaths, more often than not, contributed more to the movie than their actual roles. However, I do have to say that Rodriguez disappointed me as a paying customer to see two certain females live to the last reel, and that’s all I’ll say about that.
The story itself isn’t important, just as it’s generally not in any zombie plague film. As long as we know what started the whole thing, I don’t give a shit so long as I’ve got excessive violence and the human struggle to pull me through to the end! If you really wanted to, I guess you could try pinning some kind of morality or social commentary crap on it like so many movie geeks often enjoy doing, but that’s on you, Roger Ebert. I’m just here for the carnage!
Performance wise, Josh Brolin is a beautifully sleazy mofo, Freddy Rodriguez is a keg of whoop-ass in a 12 oz can, Quentin Tarantino is an unlikable dick bag (which makes his pain and suffering all the more pleasant), Michael Parks is awesome and criminally underused, Jeff Fahey had me thinking he was channeling a mix of Tremors’s Bert Gummer and Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2’s Drayton Sawyer (which was a good thing) and Michael Biehn was fun to watch as the local curmudgeon Sheriff. Everybody else is, well, good enough to get me through the movie. McGowan’s okay as the lead, but aside from the running joke of her unipod gimmick, I could take her or leave her.
As for the Grindhouse gimmick of abusing the film stock to make it look like an old exploitation reel, Rodriguez definitely runs with the concept more here than Tarantino does with the latter installment, Death Proof. The film gets grainy and scratched up, the colors wash out, there are frequent breaks and skips, and I enjoyed the overall presentation. I’m obviously too young to have any of the intended nostalgia bias from the theme, as I wasn’t around for the fabled “42nd Street Grindhouse” days, but I’ve suffered through enough low rent theaters and video nasty bootlegs in my time to have an appreciation for the effort. Each of the two movies featured in Grindhouse include a “Missing Reel” gag, and all I can say is that I hope the scene “lost” from Planet Terror was actually filmed as some point and will make it into the DVD’s special features section.
What more is there to say? See Grindhouse! Even if you don’t have the patience for a 3 hour feature, at least do yourself the favor of seeing Planet Terror and the faux movie trailers before heading home for your 9pm bedtime, sleeping beauty.
Speaking of those fake movie trailers, I’m going to talk about two of them here and the others in my Death Proof review. The first trailer is for Machete, a non-existent ‘70s exploitation action flick that wasn’t directed by Robert Rodriguez, didn’t star “#3 on my top ten list of all-time bad-ass movie motherfuckers”, Danny Trejo, and didn’t feature Cheech Marin as a shotgun wielding priest! Our title anti-hero is an assassin hired to kill a US political figure that intends to deport all of the nation’s Mexican populace back to their homes south of the border. Machete (named after his weapon of choice) is, of course, double crossed and must take down the honky assholes that tried to set him up. It’s like Shooter, only liberally breeded with a heavy dose of ‘70s sleaze and a Taco Grande-sized platter of Mexploitation. If I rated trailers, I would give Machete five stars and say that it definitely needs to be turned into a full feature, should Grindhouse 2 see the light of day.
Our second trailer is the Rob Zombie heralded Werewolf Women of the SS – a Nazisploitation flick about Hitler’s secret werewolf super soldier experiments that would combine Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS with The Howling and would star Udo Kier, Sheri Moon-Zombie, Bill Moseley and Tom Towles if Rob Zombie could stuff them all into his Delorean and take them back to 1974 to actually make this movie. The concept sounds great on paper, and I think Zombie could make something like this work if given a full feature to play with, but the trailer itself lacked the thrill I was hoping for. Maybe it was the cheap werewolf costumes or the fact that people like Bill Moseley and Udo Kier need more than 10 seconds of screen time to work their magic. Whatever the reason, this wasn’t a trailer that made me chew my talons off in anticipation of seeing this movie actually made. I have faith in Zombie and his cast though, should this ever merit a full length feature. Three stars for the trailer, but FIVE stars for Nicholas Cage’s cameo as Fu Manchu! I hate the man much less now than I did yesterday.
Xtro: You know that feeling of revitalized joy when you watch a movie you haven’t seen in years and, not only does it hold up, but it’s actually better than you remember it? Like, you’ve seen so much sub-par and/or straight garbage movies in that period that you’ve gained a whole new level of respect for it and life itself doesn’t feel quite as stacked with backbreaking misery as it did before? That’s me having watched Planet Terror again for this rerun-review. I’m fighting the urge to write an entirely new review, just so I can vomit rainbows and praise all over it for 10 pages.
I couldn’t find anything I didn’t like while watching this. Had I the ability to experience the full range of emotions that the average human brain does, I just may have gone through the entire checklist watching the intersecting lives of a one-legged go-go dancer, a tow truck driver, a pair of doctors, a BBQ cook, an arms dealer, an obnoxious pair of babysitters, a handful of cops (including Tom Savini’s bumbling Barney Fife-ish Deputy Tolo) and a militia of army men melting like they were put through a microwave. The acting, the dialogue, the excessive violence, the oozing gore and slimy grimy nastiness, the perfect balance of absurdity, the AMAZING soundtrack, the color saturation, the scratched film, the randomly exploding cars…EVERYTHING! I love it all, and I don’t use the term “love” loosely. Just ask my real-life romantic interests. I do not declare my love for anyone or anything I do not LOVE. There were bits and pieces of imperfect computer effects that weren’t great, even overlapped by the artificially aged effects on the film, but there are big ideas here that can’t exist in practical effects form outside the realm of a Chris Nolan movie budget, so I can deal with it.
I remember at the time Grindhouse was released, I’d read someone’s comments somewhere (good luckin’ fuck narrowing that down) about how these “homages” to the ’70s trash movies upon which the double bill took its namesake were all style and no substance. Some people were expecting less of the typical Rodriguez orgy of action and blood and white hats with tragic, mysterious backgrounds, and hoping for more of a faithful no-budget recreation of amateur acting, lazy writing, dime store special effects, and wall-eyed boobs jiggling everywhere. In other words, those people were expecting something intentionally bad. They wanted a parody that didn’t feel like a parody, not just a zombie epidemic action horror flick shot on film that was then dragged behind a car around a parking lot. I can respect their criticism, more so given that Tarantino and Rodriguez were promising a love letter to 42nd Street and not what a lot of people saw as just another “smell-o-vision” gimmick. But me? I fell for the gimmick. Call me a sucker, but I really couldn’t see Planet Terror presented in a “clean” format, because it’s significantly helped by the scratched film, garbled sound, “tampered reel” fast cut edits, and the “reel missing” gag. It works too perfectly as is to want it any other way.
Oh, and PT was my introduction to how phenomenal Josh Brolin is as not just an asshole, but a nuanced asshole. William Block isn’t even a total villain so much as a pissed off husband who found out his wife Dakota was cheating on him and plotting to not only leave him, but take their son with her. As if the guy clearly loving their lad isn’t enough to sympathize a tad with him, but when you consider how mommy gave little Tony a handgun and left him alone in their car, where he SHOOTS HIMSELF IN THE HEAD, this is one custody case that seems a bit cut and dry in the father’s favor!
If you haven’t seen Planet Terror yet for some inconceivable reason, get off your ass and scrounge up a copy. Given that video rental stores have been reduced to kiosks that only carry new releases, I guess you’ll have to rent the disc from NetFlix or hope it’s on one of the streaming services. Or, if you’ve got $5 to spare, I’m sure you can pick up a DVD copy in your local big box store’s budget bin. And if you don’t like it, leave it on a local playground for some wayward ankle biter to discover. Just make sure nobody sees you.
Moral of the Story: If you replace your leg with an automatic rifle, you apparently don’t need to pull the trigger to fire it, it’ll just know when to fire on it’s own.
“You expect me to pay full price for this? I’m not paying 100% for 80% of a knife!”
For his birthday, Kevin Smith gave Bruce Willis a contraption that lets him literally enjoy the smell his own farts, any time and any place!
Little known fact: that was the original title for the B-52s song “Love Shack” before the record company made them change it.
“I appreciate the offer, but I’ve already got enough jugs of my own, thanks!”
In this outtake, Freddy Rodriguez does his best to keep a straight face when Rose McGowan lets loose the biggest beef blaster this side of Norbit.
This is why you never insult someone while they’re eating a Gushers fruit snack, Bill.
“Do we need a car to purchase gas, or can we just drink it straight from the hose? Hello?”
Ted Raimi Lite – Same great Ted Raimi taste, but with less calories than original Ted Raimi!
On the next episode of ‘The New Enos’, Enos shoots off his ring finger on his wedding day! That’s ‘The New Enos’, right after a new episode of ‘After After M*A*S*H’ this week on CBS’s “Who Watches This Shit?!” Fridays!
Clearly Bill didn’t learn his lesson from the last time.
“I see you’ve gotten a new chest piece since we broke up.”
“Yeah. It’s based on a page from my nephew’s Lion King coloring book.”
Freddy Rodriguez stars in Night of the Living Dorf.
In 1972, Lloyd Kaufman was hired by the US Army to shoot STD educational films meant to dissuade troops from having sex with Vietnamese prostitutes. After an entire platoon suffered from Shell Shock following its initial viewing and were deemed unsuitable for combat, he was immediately fired.
Steve Bannon’s really let himself go since being booted from the White House.
I had the same reaction the first (and last) time I ate a KFC Triple Zinger Double Down King sandwich too.
Don’t even try picking up this lady, guys. She’s a woman of a whole different… caliber.
(No worries, folks. I punched myself after that one.)
“Hey handsome. You’re lucky that massive head wounds happen to be my fetish!”
“I wish I could quit you, Zeke.”
“I know, Scooter. I know. Now get off me. NASCAR’s on.”
I can see why she was the ”Shooter Illustrated” “Stroke of the Month” centerfold 16 months running! Then she was dethroned by that blonde who replaced both her legs with AR-15s, had a small American flag implanted on top of her skull, and has a tramp stamp of Hillary Clinton with a gun sites over her face.
So, after the Zombie Apocalypse the “Henry VIII/Rembrandt” look comes back in style? Good thing I’m too slow to outrun the undead!
Anubis will return next time in
“Sexy and the City 3: Blood On the Backroads”
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
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.
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.
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
I envision a lawsuit by the Estate of Edgar Allan Poe against the Estate of Ken Russell as presided over by the Estate of Judge Wopner here, in ‘The Dead Peoples’ Court’.
See, shit like that is why you’ll never get me within a mile of a LASIK office!
“I have to say, when my wife said she’d gotten me that reverse-gangbang I’d always wanted for my birthday, I wasn’t expecting… well… this. Oh well, let’s make the best of it, girls!”
Yes, kids, Ken Russell as a literal dick nose.
Scary Movie prop mask purchased from Marlon Wayans’ “Fund the next A Haunted House sequel” yard sale.
The New Slash Co. Mark 12 collection of knives! They’ll cut through shoe leather, a soda can and a full-sized rhinoceros, and STILL sever a human head like it were a ripe tomato without a single sharpening! I’d buy that for a dollar!
What? You’ve never been to a white trash Eyes Wide Shut party before?
My sex shed is way nicer than theirs!
“With the Psychic Readers Network, you can get in touch with the Egyptian gods for advice on life, love, and lucky lottery numbers for just $2.99 per minute! Call me NOW!”
Saint Polident – the Patron Saint of Denture Cleansers and veteran of the 100 Years Crusade against the kingdom of the Cavity Creeps.
And this is why I never trust elderly women in lingerie who ask me if I want to “smell their flower”.
A scene from Annie Sprinkle’s long-since-banned educational video for elementary school children on how bees pollinate flowers.
My attempts at bringing my own Frankensteinian meatloaf man to life didn’t go as I had hoped… at least he made for some delicious leftovers!
The only surviving still from a proposed 1992 reboot of Planet of the Apes that, I think we can all agree, would have probably been too awesomely reprehensible for this world anyway.
Alright! The Better Homes and Gardens annual “DIY Funerary Displays on a Budget” issue is out! They printed my article in this one!
In 1997, Nintendo introduced the first “rumble” function for video game controllers, causing them to vibrate as a form of sensory feedback for players to help increase their immersion in the games. 20 years after the introduction of vibrating controllers, females now make up nearly 50% of video gamers. Coincidence? My eye.
Anubis will return next time in
“Guess Who’s Dying at Dinner”
Featuring: Georgia “Vampire Biker Babes” Chris , Joe “Experiment 7” Davison , Jack “Experiment 7” Amos
Director: Marcus “Rot” Koch
Writer: Joe “Experiment 7” Davison
You know what I hate? Ironing. You know what else I hate? Irony. Not all irony, just the kind that inconveniences me personally. Like when I’m taking bottles back to the store and their machine, which accepts brands sold exclusively by other stores, will NOT accept drink bottles of their own fucking in-house brands! Slanderman’s Amerika just started and already shit’s going to Hel in a knock-off Louis Vuitton. SAD.
I wish I could indulge in the blissful levels of cognitive dissonance that Cheeto Chiang Kai-shek’s supporters must live in to not only vote the fuck face into office, but continue to sing his praises after the litany of idiocy he continues to vomit from his ass day in and day out. Oh well, ignorance is bliss so I’ll forever be a pessimist. And pissed. And impossible to resist. But not a pacifist. Nor a partaker of the Eucharist. I prefer my flesh and blood consumption to be legitimate and not just some weak cheese metaphor for sipping wine and eating salt-free crackers. Speaking of flesh and blood, let’s review 100 Tears!
The heroes of our picture are Mark Webb (Joe Davidson) and Jen Stevenson (Georgia Chris). The duo are co-writers of made-up articles (you know, ones about “alternative facts”) for a grocery store checkout line tabloid rag called The Midnight Star. This may or may not be a reference to the newspaper Weird Al sang about in the track of the same name, but either way I’d like to clutch my heightened nerd awareness and continue with that line of thinking. It’s assuredly not to be confused with the band Midnight Star, who taught us all the dangers of parking on the dance floor. Thank you for your service, gentlemen. We salute you.
Unable to decide between the raising of the Titanic or the further adventures of Reptile Boy, the pair put their paying job on the back burner for a few days and turn their focus instead on trying to be real reporters by cracking the case of the infamous Teardrop Killer. According to the info provided to her by Jen’s sister in the FBI, Teardrop has iced in excess of 160 people up and down the East Coast over the course of the last 2 decades. Their only info about the monster? He leaves a bloody teardrop smeared at the scenes, hence the name… and that’s all they know?! A maniac violently dismembers people in the triple digits for TWENTY YEARS and all the fucking FBI have come up with is a sugar-free gum equivalent codename for him?! Herbert Hoover must be rolling in his muumuu and high heels!
As “only in the movies” luck would have it, that very night said slayer takes it upon himself to maul, maim and dismember an entire halfway house of fresh victims! What do we know that the FBI doesn’t? The killer is a big & tall guy dressed like a clown who wields a giant meat cleaver that he may have stumbled across in an abandoned slaughterhouse while looking for a place to get in out of the rain and slip in a quick gherkin jerkin’. After the facial devastation of an unfortunate gent in the basement, this Walter Paisley art expedition’s second project is a presumed ex-military dude (unless his dog tags are from Hot Topic and have pictures of Shrek on them) whose best haymakers don’t even faze the grease-painted assailant! Maybe G.I. Joey here got a dishonorable discharge because he throws punches like a Keebler elf? Gung-Ho he’s not.
(Bet you didn’t know the US Military subliminally advertised to gay children in the ’80s.)
The evisceration of a half-dozen people not withstanding, I have some quick thoughts about this killing spree. First, human anatomy. Did you know that you can kill a man instantly by jamming a meat clever into his taint? One whack and two seconds later you’ve got yourself a fresh carcass. It’s true! Speaking of truth, despite being told since childhood that seppuku resulted in literal hours of agony before the participant would finally give up the ghost (I had a good childhood), it turns out that was a lie. As one young female victim shows us, slicing someone’s stomach open also warrants an immediate need for a body bag. All the death without the wait! Additionally, despite what movies like American History X would lead us to believe, the human skull is not nearly as strong as you might think. As our killer clown demonstrates for us, a single stomp from a man’s foot (at least one encased in a comically oversized novelty shoe) causes an adult woman’s head to burst like a balloon full of crimson Karo syrup. No brains, no skull fragments, just a splatter of red goo. Slim Goodbody lied to us all! No wonder he always hid his head under that afro!
As for the halfway house itself, the kitchen seemingly double as a laundry room given the washing machines and coin-op detergent vendor stuffed in the corner. I can’t imagine that’s up to snuff per local health codes, given the risk of cross contamination between the food and shit like laundry soap and whatever microbial eldritch horrors might be living in the occupants’ bedsheets, towels and *dry heave* their skivvies… BLART! Additionally, what kind of halfway house has a big sign on its front door broadcasting that there’s an ATM on the premises? Aren’t those usually saved for corner shops and liquor stores? Unless of course it’s advertising the presence of a prostitute on the premises who offers ass-to-mouth. Yeah, that’s probably it.
Come morning, after Jen wakes up atop Mark (in their shared futon, because they’re also roommates and I guess they don’t have their own bedrooms?) and they have more wacky “fat guy and hot girl” sexual tension (including her offering to fuck him in the shower if he can do 100 sit-ups, followed by his farting in her face as he stands over her) before a hot tip about last night’s bloodbath prompts them to rush to the scene of the crime. They bribe a detective associate of theirs (Rod Grant) to let them take pics of the slaughter before the clean up crews come in to scrub the gore. Finding a terrified girl in hiding, our heroes rightly chastise the cops for not finding her themselves during their own sweep of the premises and learn from the lass that the killer in question was dressed like a clown. So, having been on the case of the Teardrop Killer for all of 15 hours, the pair have already learned more about the mofo than the FBI has in twenty years? Crow T. Robot.
J & M also learn from the attending pig that two other residents of the house are unaccounted for, prompting us to an as-yet-undetermined locale where Bloodthirsty Bozo is revealed to have nabbed the missing couple and taken them home to finish off like human doggy bags. But why? You’ve gotta imagine it’d be more effort than it’s worth to drag two live people across town just so you can kill them there shortly after. Why give yourself additional work to do disposing of them on top of getting them there rather than just adding them to the rest of the mutilated bodycount at the scene of the crime?! How has this putz successfully evaded the feds for this fucking long doing dipshit stuff like this?!
Following up on the clown gimmick, our intrepid off-brand Lois Lane and Jimmy Olson seek a lead at a nearby carnival, interviewing a foul-mouthed old bartender (whose shouting voice sounds oddly like Super Dave Osborne) named Ed (Jerry Allen) and a bite-size circus barker porn mag enthusiast named Draga (Norberto Santiago). Though both peg the pair as cops at first, once our protags ID themselves as tabloid writers hunting a lead the carnies are more than happy to accommodate. Right around here is when we focus our attention elsewhere in the neighborhood and are introduced to Christine (Raine Brown) – a thrift store Harley Quinn who professes an affinity for clowns and a violent dislike for those pesky “normies”, which is a term that Norm Petersen fanboys call themselves. Didn’t know such people existed? Sure they do! They converge for their own convention in Boston once a year, where they cosplay as the iconic alcoholic and occupy the stools of the local drinking establishments for a weekend long bar crawl, nursing beers and shouting “NORM!” every time one of them comes through the front door. No, seriously! Google it!
Oh, and since George Wendt almost never comes up in casual conversation, I’d like to take this chance to tell everyone that he played Dean Halsey in a production of Re-Animator: the Musical that The Evil Dead Bride and I attended some years ago when we still lived in the teeming, heaving mass of bodies and filth you call New York City. He was…okay. True story!
Christine will have a more important role in our tale later on, but for her first few scenes we just kinda watch her get dressed up, go to a bar, pick up some random perm-haired nerd who she convinces to go down on her in an alley (not even with an immunity to STDs and all of my taste buds burned off would I do such a thing to someone I’d just met in a bar) before slitting the chump’s throat and leaving him for a wino to stumble upon later while, she goes home to carve emo etchings on her abdomen for further jollies. Despite this portrayal, keep in mind that the majority of self-cutters aren’t interested in hurting others, just themselves. So if you should see someone with scars on their arms/legs/whatever, fear for them more so than for yourself. Anyway, yeah, now our movie has two killers. When they inevitably meet in the second or third act, do you think they’ll have a team-up or a face-off? Before we answer that…
While Mr. Webb and Miss Stevenson follow up on some other potential leads, Drags is confronted by the obese mirth murderer who threatens short legs’ tiny life until he trades Clowny his continued existence for a piece of paper containing the address of a woman named Tracy. When our would-be Woodward and Bernstein come back to check on half-pint, he spills the garbanzos on all the circustral shenanigans and gore-soaked goings-on. Roll that beautiful bean footage!
The clown’s name is Gurdy (not a great clown name…too close to “Turdy”) and he used to work with Draga at the same circus 20 or so years ago. At the time, two teenage girls named Roxie and Tracy ran away from home and joined said three ring mobile home as carnie groupies. Some ladies just love tiny hands and the overwhelming stench of month old boiled cabbage. I don’t get it either, but every relationship I’m in has to be inter-species, so I don’t judge what gets the blood flowing to your genitalia. Anyway, Roxie shacked up with sideshow strongman Ralphio, while Tracy indulged her fetish for balloon sex toys by sharing sheets with the Gurdler. Turned out that Roxie, despite getting the less nightmare inducing of the potential suitors, was still a cockblocking cunt that didn’t want Tracy being happy too. So, while Trace was getting her womb seltzered, Rox told ‘Phio that Gurds was actually raping her. You know what’s the only thing that makes the idea of being sexed by a clown worse? Being sexed by a clown against your will. The sound of his horn honking as it’s repeatedly mashed between your bodies…
Uggh, I just threw up. Not a little either. It looks like someone just dumped a gallon of Dollar Embargo vegetable soup and a sleeve of mashed up Saltines on my couch. Who wants to take bets on how long I can keep typing through the smell?
A social justice warrior for his time (not a bad thing, despite what tiny penised douche boys would tell you), Ralph didn’t take Roxie’s declaration well and laid a wall-to-wall walloping on Gurdy, stomping his ass like it was flaming bag of dogshit. And just like stomping said immolated brown paper IED, the strongman instantly regrets his actions, because Big Top Shakes responded by strangling Rox and jamming a tent stake through the back of big boy’s brain case. Citing the landmark case of Eye v. Eye, the rest of the circus folk “dealt with Gurdy for good” in a way whose specifics are never explained. Unless Gurds is a literal ghoul (which might explain why he doesn’t talk), I’m presuming “dealing with him” didn’t include killing him, as you might expect. Whatever the case, the painted madman has been cutting throats and gutting folks, following his old place of employment up and down the East Coast ever since. Draga says you could always “feel his presence” at the circus despite having never seen Gurdy in person since the incident. So, now big murderous old Gurdy has finally found Tracy, who he’s been searching for all this time…while slaughtering people for…no…real…reason.
I know it wasn’t easy to find caulrophiles back in the ’80s, but if someone had just shown Gurdy OkCupid or Craigslist or JuggaLove, he could’ve given up his desperate quest to find Tracy and a whole lot of nameless extras would still be alive today.
Speaking of dead extras, while all this has been playing out, Gurdles has been adding a whole lotta notches to the handle of his giant guillotine blade with a handle. His current crash pad is the basement of a local warehouse, and when the place’s realtor stops by with a pair of potential tenants, all three are turned into stew meat for a cannibal potluck. Not exactly smart given that the realtor’s secretary knows where the guy was when last he spoke to her, so when neither he nor the two other guys he took with him return, that’s an easy call to the police to send someone by to check the property out. She doesn’t and they don’t though, but a rent-a-cop instead finds the bloody remnants of the guy in his SUV later that night, which Gurdy just LEFT OUT IN FRONT OF THE WAREHOUSE. Again, HOW THE FUCK DID THIS GUY LEAVE THE FBI CHASING ITS OWN FUCKING TAIL FOR TWENTY YEARS?!
Gurdy’s decades long search for his lost love is all for naught though, as he finds her on the floor of her home with her throat slit! Who could’ve done such a thing? Yep, you guessed it, Christine is Tracy’s daughter and she just killed dear old mom. Rather than hanging the girl by her own intestinal tract for killing the woman he’s spent half a lifetime hunting, Gurd kidnaps Chris (seems she’s only good at killing people who don’t expect it), takes her back to his wretched basement apartment and reveals to her what we’ve all been expecting this whole time – she’s his daughter. Contrived as it is, it’s much better than the other possible outcome, which would’ve been Christine being his new groupie. Not only would that have likely resulted in an ipecac of a sex scene, but it also would’ve made zero fucking sense that a random civilian thrill killer would have known about Gurdy and been able to track him down when, again, the FBI (Fucking Bunch of Idiots) are all too busy giving themselves first-person colonoscopies.
Despite the initial horror of a big psycho clown materializing in her home mere moments after giving her own mom a botched second-chinectomy, Christine seems pretty nonplussed by her poppa’s sudden appearance. She also doesn’t seem all that confused as to why he’s a mute, nor does she question the validity of his claim, and instead just accepts the whole thing as legit. The pair have an instantaneous connection and waste no time getting to the daddy-daughter bonding stuff either, when a gaggle of convenient twenty-somethings out to rave the night away pick the absolute wrong seemingly abandoned warehouse to pass their tress…tress their pass? Whatever, Officer Leroy! (Sifl & Olly joke, so don’t feel bad if that one lost ya) Brandishing the massive slice n’ dicer and a sledgehammer between them, Gurds and Whey make quick work of the kids in their typical gory fashion. Naturally the prey are all too terrified to stop and realize they outnumber their attackers 5-to-1, or that Tweedledaughter shouldn’t be too hard to disarm while awkwardly wielding that big clumsy hammer around, but this world is generally populated by the kind of morons that always come to mind when you ponder just how the “so-and-so wouldn’t know the difference between their asshole and a hole in the ground” witticism gained so much traction.
In our flick’s big finale, Matt & Jen are clued in to the locale of our killers by FBI sister (based on the guard’s SUV discovery the night before) so they head out to investigate before the place is taken over by feds. On the way, they call in their local police squad pals (one of which just wants to bone Jen, not that I blame him) so they won’t be without some form of backup. Rather than wait for the 2 guys with the guns to show up (and it is just the two, since neither apparently thought it a good idea to call in the rest of the pig parade precinct to take down a SERIAL KILLER RESPONSIBLE FOR 200 OR SO MURDERS), our intrepid investigators search the basement of sins (that appears to be lit by some battery powered stick-up lights and a blacklight from Spencer’s Gifts) and end up face-to-painted face with Gurdy. A struggle ensues and Matt shows us that he’s never fired a gun in his life, shooting off a few rounds without so much as a scratch. All the sadder because Gurdy’s of sizable carriage. Have I mentioned that? That he’s fat? I did? How about old? Did I mention that he’s also old? I did. Okay. Just making sure.
Discount bin Crockett and Tubbs show up soon after, but in the interest of expediting these final 15 minutes, let’s leave it at this – the daddy-daughter duo are too much for the quartet. Despite the movie’s earlier exchange of the ex-military dude punching Evil Binky repeatedly in the face to no effect, Mike socks the lummox once in the mouth and fatty’s left reeling like friggin’ Glass Joe. His Tyson-like punches (less the boxer and more the frozen chicken products) notwithstanding, the illegitimate son of Louis C.K. ultimately takes a bullet in the mouth and sheds his mortal coil. The white cop gets his throat slit by Christine (who pretends to be poppa’s prisoner), the black cop (Kibwe Dorsey) gets his head lopped off by the novelty sized butchering implement, and Jen gets slashed up by Chris’ razor blade, has her spine tenderized twice via sledgehammer and finally has her face smashed into the floor multiple times before being left for dead…which she clearly isn’t, as her eyes are wide open and she’s still breathing and writhing around. Rookie mistake on daddy’s little monster’s part. Speaking of, Chris shoots her father in the head (cuz bitches be cray-cray, y’all!) before leaving the scene of the crime. She ends the flick Bill Bixbying down an empty backroad before bursting into 100 Tears‘ final splatter of hemoglobin when she’s street pizza-ed by…Jen. Do Greek women have adamantium skeletons by nature? I mean, even if she didn’t endure multiple concussions from having her face repeatedly bounced off of concrete, I’m pretty sure those SLEDGEHAMMER SHOTS DIRECTLY TO HER SPINE should’ve turned her into b-horror Ironside!
But, you know, movies. What are ya gonna do?
And that’s our movie. It’s truly an HG Lewis flick for the modern age (besides 2001 Maniacs, Blood Feast 2 and so forth). Not because it’s in any way revolutionary or controversial, just because its only real selling point is its graphic violence! It’s a gore whore’s goregasmic delight to behold. The red stuff and chunky inner bits are so prevalent that the movie was given an NC-17 rating for “extreme horror violence”. A badge of honor I’m sure those behind it are proud to display! As they should be. Said splatter showcase is one of the finest (if absurdest) bloodbaths to hit my screen since the last time I watched Evil Dead 2, which any fan of cinematic viscera will recognize as high praise. Give me practical effects for the win, Peter Marshall!
In contrast, 100 Tears‘ story is the whitest of white breads in terms of slasher fare. Think Wonder Bread dipped in a jar of Miracle Whip and fed to an albino polar bear. Whiter than the sheets the republican party wear on their weekend “retreats”. A man and a woman track down a serial killer with a gimmick? Meh. His gimmick is that he’s a clown? And he’s hunting down a figure from his past? Meh again. His murder weapon of choice is a massive meat cleaver? Okay, it’s not just another machete or power tool, so that’s fine. Sadly, making matters worse, this shoestring plot’s got more holes in it than the dozens of apple pies in Jason Biggs’ linen closet. When you’re telling us that the FBI have near-zero info on a serial killer responsible for the deaths of more than 160 people over a twenty year stretch, all of which just happened to be done along the coastal route of the same traveling circus every year over that period, it’s mentally comparable to getting a fucking sliver! It just sits there, stinging and infuriating me more and more as I gnaw at it unsuccessfully in impotent frustration.
Don’t read anything more into that last part, either! Those pills I ordered from Canada are for my liver and nothing else!
On top of that, we only ever get to see Gurdles either in full clown regalia or in the final stages of applying his makeup. Given as such, he must spend time without the greasepaint on if he has to paint himself up again. He has to have more duds in his wardrobe than just his work clothes too, otherwise that shit would’ve been reduced to tatters, cuffs and a collar after twenty years of constant usage! One would have to presume that Gurdy has a secret identity, right? A persona under which you would image he does odd jobs or something to contribute to his basic nutritional needs and travel budget? Or has he just been dumpster diving half-eaten corn dogs from the carnival’s midway trash cans, hence his constant “presence” since his disappearance that Draga refers to? And mayhaps he was just really good at hiding amid the trucks and trailers so no one ever caught him hitching a ride every time they pulled up stakes and moved on? If the devil is in the details, I certainly wouldn’t recommend this flick to any Satan worshipers…
Of which Satanists are not included, so stop being so egocentric with your ignorance to the workings of religions that aren’t your own.
The cast is every bit as amateurish as you’d expect from a homemade horror movie, with writer-star Joe Davison playing comedy relief and giving himself the best lines of the script. At least he delivers them better than I imagine most writers probably would. Georgia Chris and Raine Browne were okay. If nothing else, Raine wasn’t nearly as bad in her pseudo-Harley Quinn role as Margot Robbie was in her actual Harley Quinn role, so…there’s that. I guess. Santiago, sadly enough, seems to have been cast simply for his stature rather than his acting talent. The guy staggers over his lines as if he were a first timer, of which I’m relatively assured he was. If you told me he had even a week of acting classes, or Hel, even some high school drama club experience, I’d probably slap your mother for raising such a foul liar.
As for Amos’ portrayal of Gurdy? For starters, he didn’t have a single line to utter, so he’s off the hook there. His physical stuff was good though. His imposing size and massive cleaver did a lot of the work for him, but his use of the classic movie-killer head tilt was well done. On the downside, the way he’d fling Ol’ Chopper (my name for his cleaver) over his shoulder with a heavy cockiness to his mannerisms and a sneer on his lips just came off as silly bullshit. I’d ask for some leeway when it comes to the cast though, as I’m guessing that a number of these scenes were made under the Roger Corman “one and done” method, because if there were multiple takes and these were the best performances they opted to keep, that’s going to keep me up at night.
So goes today’s feature, 100 Tears. Come for the gory clown violence, stay for…more gory clown violence. If fake blood drenching the screen ain’t your thing, don’t bother tracking this one down, as that’s about all it has to offer. Can’t say a lot for Koch’s directing (especially the lack of fucking lighting in the last 15 minutes), but his special effects are worthy of a girthy upward pointing thumb! Good to see that’s where he’s spent most of his 20 year career.
Before we go, I’ve got one final bone to pick. During Draga’s first scene, things get jarringly goofy when Matt and Jen resort to chasing him on foot through a lightly wooded area. Fat guy awkwardly running after a midget? You betcha.
“Get in mah belly!”
It’s not the chase itself from which said bone protrudes however, but rather the accompanying music that gave me cause to pause. Why? Because it steals the opening to Gogol Bordello’s “I Would Never Wanna Be Young Again”, the 2nd track off of their 2005 album Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike! I only say “stolen” because there’s no credit accredited said band anywhere in the credits. In other words, well, it’s stolen. So here I am, making sure the lads from the Lower East Side get as much recognition for their work as, well, posting it here will give them.
You don’t wanna know where that finger’s been. Clowns are disgusting creatures by nature.
“You’re putting too much effort into the jokes actually being funny. We’re writing a sitcom about a fat guy (me) married to an attractive wife (you). Whether it’s funny or not, there’s no way one of the major networks won’t give us a 2 season deal!”
She thinks she’s on hold with the Suicide Prevention Hotline, but it’s actually one of those morning radio show prank calls.
“Heh heh. Just look at that bisection job! Damn, I’m good. Look out world, Gurdy’s coming for ya!”
If “The Truck Stop Massacre” isn’t already in production at Troma, I’ll be disappointed.
Portrait of a man who will never have sex with his hot female friend. Been there, done that, walked out of the sequel.
“Of course I’m a detective! Just look at my long coat, my taint-length tie and my dress shirt tucked into my high-waisted pants!”
Ladies, no matter how sexy it makes you feel, this is why you never go out in a skirt or dress without underwear. You never know when Aunt Flo is gonna make an unwanted visit.
“Alright, baby. Now I’m gonna show you how a real man… FUCK! YOU TOLD ME YOU’D ALREADY HAD THE SURGERY! GROSS!”
I hear they sold their original SCAT ride to a wealthy German Count.
I see somebody turned my worst Porta John experience into a logo. How fun.
“Sure, the internet may be filled with every kind of porn you can imagine, but you just can’t beat the feeling of a crinkled magazine between your fingers during ‘foreplay’. I guess I’m just a romantic!”
He’s the writer, the male lead AND he does his own stunts! Watch out Hollywood, because Joe Davison is a genuine triple threat!
“21 across – ’45th president of the United States’; 5 letters; begins with ‘P’. Any idea?”
And this, children, is why you never eat an entire package of Gushers fruit snacks at once.
“Try not to blow any of your lines on this take. We need to finish shooting this scene before the Olive Garden employees realize what we’re doing in here.”
On the drive home following Burning Man, Lisa realized that she had a lot of life choices to make that she just couldn’t put off anymore. She’d probably never be able to forget the things she saw that fateful weekend, but she preyed that somehow, somewhere down the line, she would one day be freed of those demons and learn to be human again.
Anubis will return next time in
“The Murderous Misadventures of the Crisco Kid”
Featuring: Sherri “The Lords of Salem” Moon Zombie , Richard “DOOM” Brake , Jeff Daniel “Westworld (2016)” Phillips
Director & Writer: Rob “The Devil’s Rejects” Zombie
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!
Anubis will return next time in
“Balls of Fury”
Featuring: Patrick “Wristcutters: a Love Story” Fugit , Wrenn “Boardwalk Empire” Schmidt , Philip “Life on Mars” Glenister
Director: Adam “Autoerotic” Wingard
Writer: Robert “’The Walking Dead‘”Kirkman
For years the debate has raged over the state of acclaimed gangster rap performer Tupac Shakur. Most people accept his violent demise in a gang related drive-by shooting. Some opt for the conspiracy theorist route and insist that the man is in hiding somewhere, asexually budding new brain rhyme babies in a self-sustaining shelter deep below the Andes mountain range until his enemies have all been destroyed and he can safely return to the public eye to retake his throne in the second coming of rap Jesus. But few know the truth I’m going to share with you now: Tupac Shakur is being held in isolation at Area 51, examined and experimented on following a run-in with a mythical creature that left him… changed. No longer the Str8 Ballin’ perpetrator of the Ghetto Gospel and purveyor of California Love, he is now the nocturnal menacer of the innocent known as The Tupacabra!
Now that that Unsolved Mystery can be dragged and dropped into the “Solved Shit” folder, let’s all move on with our lives together, hand-in-hand, into the Great Unknown. First on the docket for the undocumented? “Outcast”.
Not to be confused with hip-hop duo Outkast (who gave us Alpha level earworms like “Hey Ya!” and “Ms. Jackson”), today’s topic of interest has a lot in common with “Preacher” (see last week’s review). They’re both cable TV shows based on mature reader comic books that center around Christian religious horror themes and they both premiered on the same weekend. Is it enough common ground that the two would hit it off during a round of speed dating and litter a motel room floor with their vestments mere hours after first contact? Fuck if I know. I don’t speed date. When I’m on the lookout for an inkwell in which to dip my dick-shaped quill, I just hit up DeitiesBone.com for theological trim. Use the code word “ANUBIS69” when you sign up and get a 3% discount on your Platinum or higher membership fee!
Whereas preacher Jesse Custer’s tale is more about over-the-top violence and what-the-fuck moments while accompanied by his oddball associates, “Outcast” keeps its themes more grounded in traditional religious horror. Namely demonic possession and the resultant evictions of said Satanic squatters. Our eponymous outcast is thirty-something Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit), who we first meet inhabiting his childhood home in self-exile. Living as a hermitous hoarder, Kyle’s living off of his savings account, munching milkless bowls of dry cereal and presumably just hoping the place will burn down eventually and take him with it. His sister Megan (Wrenn Schmidt), however, refuses to let her brother rot in peace and forces him go out into public with her, baiting him with the promise of groceries and basically cuckolding her own sibling into eating less like a college freshman and more like a human being.
With the exception of the embarrassment that comes with being a grown ass man whose sister has just taken control of your basic life decisions, this isn’t exactly coming off like much of a supernatural horror show, is it? Well, I was just about to get to that part ya paranoid android, so just hold your hard drive!
When he was a young lad, Kyle was the target of some pretty savage Babadookian domestic abuse by his mom. Everybody in the neighborhood knew about it, but chalked it up to her being bipolar, or “single parent stressed” as people called it before brain science gave us the term that always makes you think about a bi-sexual polar bear every time you hear it. Don’t pretend like you don’t. Denial ain’t just the river Isis and Osiris used to take us anthropomorphic ankle biters on holiday.
So, much like other rampant instances of abuse in those days (the ’80s?), nobody said anything and everybody just pretended it wasn’t their responsibility. If this were the final episode of “Seinfeld”, the entire town would’ve gone to jail. But, said abuse actually wasn’t the fault of Kyle’s mom (who I hear is a super King Kamehameha bitch on Sundays), nor was it even the fault of her broken brain. Mrs. Barnes was possessed. Like Linda Blair, only with less head-twisting and “LET JESUS FUCK YOU!” stuff. Eventually she ended up catatonic in a long term care facility (I won’t spoil how), Kyle and Meg got married (not to each other, ya weirdo), and due to some complicated complications Kyle was forced to leave his wife and daughter, hence why he now lives alone in the seclusion of his inherited homestead.
While out resupplying with sis, our hero overhears some ladies gossiping about a local boy who seems to be suffering an unwanted Satanic tenant of his own. After some soul searching, Kyle inevitably decides to offer up his help to Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister), the priest assigned to execute the evil spirit’s eviction notice. I won’t go any further with how the amateur exorcism plays out, but I will give you this much: it gives us our first explanation as to the title of the series and we learn from Anderson that said kid’s soul isn’t the only popular spot for demonic tourism in the area.
Unlike “Preacher”, I went into “Outcast” with my geek blinders on. Though I have the first 5 issues of the series locked away somewhere in my vault of four-color horrors, I’ve yet to read them. Much like the 2,000 or so movies I intend to review eventually but will likely never get through before my inevitable death at the hands of an enraged Charles Band. As such, I can’t verify or deny whether the show sticks to its source material or is veering from the creative path. Creator Robert Kirkman is not only along as an Executive Producer (much like he is with “The Walking Dead” and “Fear the Walking Dead”), but he’s also the show’s writer, so that’s hopefully a good sign for things to come as far as keeping the fans of the funnybooks happy.
The gore and violence are graphic enough to induce a few “what the fuck?!”s. The acting is fine. I haven’t seen anything amazing yet, but everyone plays their parts well enough. Fugit and Schmidt work well together as brother and sister, as do Fugit and Glenister as exorcist and sidekick. Fugit also does well in his portrayal as a shut-in. He’s proven that if he put a pillow under his shirt and grew out a huge beard and mullhawk (party down the middle and business on-the-sides!) he could play me in the adaptation of my award winning autobiography, Anubis: Browwed and Proud.
Oddly enough, my favorite part of the show was pint-sized actor Gabriel Bateman. “Oddly” due to my life mantra that child actors are the worst thing to happen to movies other than Uwe Boll. Young Master Bateman's (wakka wakka!) turn as the possessed little boy Joshua was great. Not so much for his vocal work (I was expecting something more demonic, to be honest), but because when we see him first possessed, the small things in his physical performance are very impressive. The subtle way he touches objects as someone experiencing them for the first time are perfect given that he's been taken over by a demonic presence that more than likely has never been subjected to our material world before. Kudos, kiddo.
Even though I gripe about how overplayed the possession/haunting theme is in current spookshow productions, I have to admit that I’m intrigued on the subject being shown in show form. You know, besides the two or three-hundred “ghost chasers” programs broadcast on cable channels that no one would watch otherwise, and whatever series that “Medium” or “Ghost Whisperer” may have beget, of which I have zero knowledge or interest. Season 2 was already confirmed before the premiere even aired, so there will be more adventures for our Outsider, Kyle Barnes (and whoever else survives these first 10 episodes). Speaking of, I’m curious enough to keep up with the show if for no other reason than to see if my theory about the origin of our hero’s eponymous moniker is what I think it is.
Coming from someone whose weekly television viewing habits are limited to watching 6 hours of professional wrestling, Comedy Central’s weeknightly 11pm to 12:30am block, and waiting for everything else to come to NetFlix/Hulu/Amazon in season-long chunks, it’s an interesting time for TV. Check out “A Darkness Surrounds Him” if you’re down with tortured characters battling inner demons and outer demons played straight and see if you like it. At worst, you lose an hour of your life you’ll never get back. At least it’s less time than you would’ve lost watching an Adam Sandler movie! You’re welcome.
Looks like Kayako got her hair stuck in a door. Again. Seriously, ghost girl, this happens every week! Just get the damn haircut already! You could donate it to Warlocks of Love! *rimshot*
“You’re my conscience? Like Jiminy Cricket?! Where’s your top hat and suit?”
“Look kid, could you stop worrying about my wardrobe and just kill your parents like I told you to?!”
I wonder if it took longer than a day to build that town.
Hey! Good to see Reg Cathey was able to still find work after FANT4STIC! Let’s hope Miles Teller isn’t so lucky.
Greyskull was here. (Google “Kilroy” if that one went over your head)
He kinda looks like Norman Reedus after an allergic reaction to shellfish.
Dear mothers of the world: please stop walking around pantsless in the presence of your sons. It can make for very confusing phases in their sexual development. It’s true. Do you wanna be responsible for the next Jeffrey Dahmer or Timothy McVeigh? I didn’t think so.
“That was my last cough drop! I need that soothing relief for my sore throat! Give it back you little monster!”
“You need not a brush, child! The power of Christ combs you! The power of Christ combs you!”
Well, at least somebody enjoys “Saturday Night Live” enough to advertise it through graffiti. Not the best spot though. And I have no clue as to which cast member that’s supposed to be. Maybe Bill Hader? But he left years ago.
I’m guessing that the real estate agent left out the part where Kyle would be neighbors with Jason Voorhees.
I know how you feel, kid. I react the same way when my Evil Dead Bride opens the blinds after my 3 day marathons every time a new Elder Scrolls game comes out.
When you said you had a problem with “a little mold”, I wasn’t expecting The
Spanish Inquisition Shunned House! My advice? Burn the whole place down, have holy men from several religions perform exorcisms on the remains, then put up a temporary residence like a trailer to see if it comes back before making any long term plans. Or, you know, just move.
Anubis will return next time in
“The Little Merc Made”