Featuring: Zhang “The Guillotines” Wen , Qi “The Transporter” Shu , Bo “The Story of David” Huang
Directors: Stephen “Kung-Fu Hustle” Chow & Chin-kin “Full Strike” Kwok
Writers: Stephen “Kung-Fu Hustle” Chow , Chin-kin “Full Strike” Kwok , Xin “Kung-Fu Hustle” Huo , Yun “Darkness Bride” Wang , Chi Keung “Shaolin Soccer” Fung , Ivy “The Lion Roars” Kong , Zhengyu Lu & Shing-Cheung Lee
Also Known As: Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons
Happy New Year! Unless you’re a native of the country today’s movie calls home, in which case you should come back and read this again on our after February 8th when the Year of the Fire Monkey (appropriate for this flick) gets underway. But for the rest of youse mugs, welcome to 2016! It’ll probably suck like every year before and after it, but why not give it the benefit of the doubt, eh? As the banner above states, the World Tour de Farce has taken some ExtenZe. Despite some roadblocks in last year’s stretch of globetrotting, I’m determined to see it through to the end! If you’re getting sick of movies full of Asian people (you racist!), then you might wanna come back sometime around March. For the rest of you, return your tray tables to the upright position, buckle your belts, and join me on this journey…TO THE WEST!
…By which I mean we’re going East. Don’t over think it.
China! Considered the longest running civilization on Earth (dating back to 6000 BC), China led (not to be confused with Chinese lead, which they paint exported children’s toys with) the world in arts and science for centuries until political and civil unrest gave their overall progress a case of the stutters, killing millions of people. The crown jewel of the remaining Communist nations is home to the world’s largest populace (1,373,000,000+ or 1/5 of the planet’s occupants!), the world’s longest continually used written language, as well as home to the planet condemning toxic industrial pollution cloud that will surely one day spawn Hexxus, setting into motion the next global extinction event.
If you’re a big fan of firearms and the 4th of July, think twice about disparaging the Middle Kingdom, because they invented fireworks and gunpowder. I guess that means we can blame them for all of the US’s mass shootings too? For fuck’s sake, even our domestic terrorism has been outsourced! The next time you wanna take a shit on China, also remember to thank them mid squat since they made it possible for you to wipe your crack with something other than your hand after. Yep, they gave us toilet paper too. They’re also responsible for compasses, printing, and paper, all of which are obsolete so who cares. China invented kites, originally made to scare off invaders who thought the flying paper constructs were dragons and demons. When it came to fending off legit evil spirits (and natural disasters) though, Chinese royalty used to keep Pandas around. Oh, and a number of historians like to credit/blame the Chinese for inventing soccer/futbol. Other popular inventions to come from the nation’s history include chopsticks (duh), iced cream, noodles, earthquake detection methods (for when the Pandas didn’t cut the hot mustard), mechanical clocks, methods of drilling for and harnessing natural gas, the decimal system, the crossbow (for you Daryl Dixon fans), martial arts (you’re welcome, Chuck Norris), silk, tea, and mapping of the circulatory system (“Cut, cut, cut, blood, spurt, artery, murder, Hitchcock, Psycho!”) among a few thousand other things!
The country officially became The People’s Republic of China on October 1st (they share a birthday with The Tomb!) 1949 under the stranglehold of leader Mao Zedong, who kept his grip on the citizens firm and chokey until his death in 1979. A whopping 22% of their export trade washes up on US shores, as can be seen in every day of American life with all of the stuff that has “Made in China” stamped on it. Nothing says “CAPITALISM!” like buying all of our cheap shit products from slave labor Communist manufacturing conglomerates!
Vascular disease and cancer are their leading killers (like pretty much everywhere else), though their infamous one-child law (recently changed to a two-child law) will take the biggest toll on their population depletion in the long run, as so many of their female babies were infanticised or put up for adoption to couples from other nations. This has left a fatal shortage of ladies to birth further generations, but has been a blessing for people around the world who put “diagnosed with Yellow Fever” on their Adult Friend Finder profiles. I admire their singular spawn stance, but feel it doesn’t go far enough. My burgeoning city-state will have mandatory sterilization or, as it’ll be called in government documents, the “All Children Left Behind” Act.
Cricket fights (the insects, not the sport) are a popular pastime (a new hobby for Michael Vick to consider) but stamp collecting is their most well liked way to waste time when they’re not making iPhones for a nickel an hour. Also, during the ’40s, Shanghai was the ONLY port in the entire world that accepted Jewish refugees without requiring an entry visa! This explains the ancient blood oath that sees Jews traditionally patronizing Chinese restaurants on Christmas. Oh, speaking of, the MSG engorged flavor orgies we stuff our faces with at the buffet? You know that stuff’s not actually Chinese in origin, right? Not even the fortune cookies. Those were invented in San Francisco.
Lastly, the highest grossing Chinese language film ever? That would be today’s movie!
Journey to the West isn’t so much based on the Chinese tale of the same name, as it is a prequel. Written 500 or so years ago (give or take), Journey to the West is considered one of “The Four Great Masterpieces” of the People’s Republic’s storied literary history. The other 3 are Water Margin, Dream of the Red Chamber, and Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Not to be confused with the four greatest literary masterpieces of the USA, which are The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Moby Dick, The Godfather, and the novelization of Adventures In Dinosaur City. Not just popular in it’s fatherland, Journey has been a HEAVY influence on a lot of different Asian productions, especially in the last 50 years. Hell, just type in “Journey to the West” on IMDB and you’ll get a good idea of how much influence it has! These include the original “Dragonball” series from Japan and the critically acclaimed (and commercially flaccid) video game Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, which I played about half of before being distracted by something with zombies in it.
Much like Hollywood, China’s movie industry is apparently guilty of the always irritating “they made a movie based on this, so we need to a movie based on it too!” mentality, as one year after Journey to the West, another such influenced flick (starring Donnie Yen and Chow Yun Fat) made its way to the light of the silver screen, called The Monkey King. Where that movie (series) is more about filling in the backstory of the eponymous primate, Journey‘s focus (aside from trying to convince us to “don’t stop believing”) is on the original story’s Buddhist monk protagonist, Tang Sanzang…under the name Xuan Zang?
Yep. Due to various translations across different languages, “Tang Sanzang” has a few dozen different acceptable aliases. I’m not a fucking etymologist, so if you wanna know more (and you generally trust Wikipedia), you can read aboot it >>>here<<< Or just do what I do in these situations: don’t ask questions, go along with it, and hope you’re not being kidnapped for a ransom no one is willing to pay. And that’s the story of why Uncle Anubis isn’t invited to make hand turkey drawings at Thanksgiving anymore. It makes everybody sad. I have to wear gloves so children don’t stare at me in public…
Xuan Zang (Zhang Wen) is a Buddhist monk and aspiring demon hunter. Not in the game for the glory, the money, the pussy, or the dehydrated fish, Xuan simply wants to help people by exorcising the forces of darkness from their lives. While other such hunters rely on an array of mystical artifacts and religious tools of the trade, Xuan’s weapon of choice is… *pause for dramatic effect* …a book of nursery rhymes. *pause for slide whistle “goodbye boner” sound effect*
Yes, Xuan is so faithful to the teachings of his Buddhist Master (Sihan Cheng) that he values the existence of even these dangerous, man-eating horror shows as being sacred. #DemonLivesMatter Demons in this context aren’t the same as their Western cousins. Rather than being twisted hellbeasts from conception, the Eastern demons are humans, brought back from the dead and transformed into monstrous animals by their lust for vengeance against the dickholes who wronged them in life. In keeping with that, Xuan opts to appeal to their inner purity (we’re all born innocent, after all) via capturing them and singing them lullabies to reignite the light hidden in their darkness. The spiritual equivalent of trying to find a peanut M&M in a bathtub full of black licorice jellybeans.
Gimme a second to tamp down the chunder geyser summoned by my amalgamating the words “black” and “licorice”. Uggh. Shit’s nastier than fish liver lollipops.
The problem with singing to demons to make them stop eating children and cutting people in half is that it generally doesn’t get the job done, so Xuan’s not the most successful demon hunter in the land. In fact, he’s the least successful. He’s openly mocked by his peers (and not just because he dresses like a filthy beggar with Ablutophobia), assaulted by ignorant mobs of civilians who really overreact when someone disagrees with them, and questions whether he’s a worthy disciple to his Master, who continually reassures Xuan that he is a great demon hunter. He’s just lacking that archetypal “je ne sais quoi” that most heroes pick up around the mid-to-end of their origin story. He needs his (speaking of French stuff) Voltaire quote as recited to him by a father figure named after a food mascot before said father figure’s tragic death as a result of the hero’s selfish negligence. Or, maybe he’ll luck out and a giant fruit bat will just fly into his face one dark and stormy night, after which he’ll don a cape & cowl and fight the monsters with little metal versions of his corporate logo and incoherent growling.
It’s on one on Xuan’s failed missions that our hero meets the far more accomplished hunter Duan (Qi Shu). Even though she laughs when he tells her about his Mother Goose methods of exorcism, she turns from sarcastic rival to romantic interest almost instantly, admiring the monk’s suicidal levels of bravery to battle beastly bad guys with just his brains, his beliefs, and his berceuses. You’d think she was Pepé Le Pew on Viagra and he was a 3-legged black cat with a streak of white paint down his back the way she Swimfans our man! She will have his babies by hook or crook (or crooked hooker?). Duan’s so infatuated with getting Xuan’s dick wet, she even follows him to the (Wild Wild) West when Master sends him to seek demon combat experience from a legendary figure known as Sun Wukong – the Monkey King (Bo Huang). As per my spoiler avoision vows (and given that this is one of the few movies on the Tour that you can currently stream on NetFlix), I will leave it up to you whether you choose to delve further into the tale or not.
Though I had a fun time watching Journey to the West, it made me realize that Stephen Chow is basically the Guy Ritchie of Chinese cinema – his movies are good, but are so similar in structure that you’d swear one or two of them were just Chinese knock-offs… or whatever the equal to a Chinese knock-off of an originally Chinese made product would be. Did you see Kung-Fu Hustle or Shaolin Soccer? Yes? Then you’ve already seen Journey to the West. A hapless, shabby hero with a good heart gets himself in over his head with deadly forces that will surely kill him in the final act if he doesn’t discover the inner strength needed to overcome his own self-imposed limitations. There’s an awkward romance, super powered martial arts weirdos (with at least one of them being an elderly person) who can explode buildings with a punch, peace & love vanquishing evil, slapstick combat with cartoony violence that leads to characters’ features being stretched like rubber (and making squeaky chew toy sounds in this case), and thinly-veiled morality stuff about not letting your ego defeat you, listening to your heart, helping people being its own reward, the best offense being a good defense, the only certainties are death & taxes, no glove no love, you can’t win friends with salad, and all that other Aesop shit meant to brainwash kids into towing the company line. Stupid kids. So easy to brainwash. I hate you so.
I’m not saying any of this is bad. There’s a comfort in predictability. Chow’s movies are always good for some dumb, well-choreographed fun and the characters are always interesting and comical in their own ways. Xuan makes for a perfectly fine Rudy Ruettiger “loveable failure” hero, Duan is an endearingly awkward tomboy-in-love, Master is a jolly and supportive father figure, Sun is a wily little old con artist, and all of the ancillary hunter characters are fun for their own reasons too. The actors all put on fine performances, despite my having no fucking clue what they were saying. Their mannerisms and body languages carried it. Especially Chrissie Chow, whose overwhelming sex appeal as Si demands that her more sultry scenes be cut into a “spank edit”. Sure, there aren’t a lot of said scenes, but just cut her dancing and grinding into a looping 3 minute clip and I’ve got what I need! *wink*wink*wank*wank*
On the scarred side of this double-headed quarter, Chow’s pacing continues to be a little bumpy. It takes a smoke break near the middle of the movie that elicited a few yawns from me and made the final act feel a little rushed for time. Then again, given the “epic but simultaneously anti-epic” fashion in which the final showdown plays out, it may have ended all the same even if given five more minutes. His special effects budgets never quite catch up with his imagination either. The demons here aren’t perfect, but at least they’re not born of the bottom of the computer generated monster barrel where the SyFy Originals skulk. I’d like to see someone with some pull here in the States give Chow a big fat Hollywood budget like Disney did when they put James Gunn in the captain’s seat for Guardians of the Galaxy. I think we’d get something equally full of heart and wowwy-zowwy sauce.
Chow started filming the follow-up for Journey (someday love will find you) last August, touting a cast listing that may include Chow himself, but has apparently not confirmed any of the first movie’s players making a return. This is older info, so fuck knows how things have progressed since, fuck nose. I look forward to seeing said sequel when it’s settled, whatever the case. Partially because I look forward to another Stephen Chow feature, and partially out of curiosity because I want to see if he changes up his formula yet or just goes continues riding in the same limo that brought him to the dance.
Here’s a bit of trivia for you before we part ways down the crossroads of our days. This isn’t Stephen Chow’s first interaction with an adaptation-of-sorts for Journey to the West. In 1995, he starred in a two-part feature called A Chinese Odyssey, where he played the fabled Monkey King himself, as well as a reincarnated version named Joker! The performance nabbed him a Best Actor award from the Hong Kong Film Critics Society, which has to carry at least some prestige with it, right? I mean, anyone who refers to themselves as a “society” has to be a respectable association, correct?
That’s all for this week! Hope everybody’s 2016 is exponentially better than their 2015 (even if you had a good 2015, because things could always be better) and that the “MST3K” reboot is as awesome as we’re all praying to Prince of Space that it will be. The World Tour continues with our next episode, same Tomb time, same Tomb channel!… provided I don’t get too wrapped up blitzkrieging the teeming zombie masses in Dead Rising 3 or getting embarrassed by 10 year old aspiring Planeswalkers in Magic Origins (Xbox Live tag: TombOfAnubis). Until then, make peace with your gods, you smelly dogs!
“I can’t wait till mom finds out I replaced all of her birth control pills with Tic-Tacs! I’ll have a little brother one way or another!”
Either somebody just got Jaws’ed or someone went swimming without checking her menstrual tracker app first.
“And Saint Atila raised the hand grenade up on high saying, ‘Oh, Lord, bless this thy hand grenade that with it thou mayest blow thy enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy.’”
Gah! He’s Dopey from the Seven Dwarfs as one of those “cartoon character drawn hyper-realistically” pictures brought to life!
So Chinese guys can grow hair on their heads and their faces, but not a single follicle on their chests? They look like big man-babies. Creepy.
[Peter Griffin voice:] “It’s Jackie Chan!”
Big Edna just found out the cake is a lie… she’s not happy.
[Mr. Burns voice:] “Mattingly! I thought I told you to trim those sideburns! Thats it, you’re off the team, for good!”
How every patient sees a Proctologist when the probing gloves comes on…
Look out, guys! It’s the vengeful spirit of women whose serious boyfriends won’t propose to them! Run!
Are anybody else’s pants shrinking/getting wet, or is it just mine?
“My parents told me the angry pig god would hunt me down if I ate an entire package of bacon by myself! Why didn’t I listen?!”
It’s not the size that counts, it’s how you use it!
…Then again, I guess size does play some importance.
“I told you, I’m not a ghost, I just a vegan. And even if I were a ghost, I couldn’t grant you any wishes! That’s a genie!”
“You can watch me deep throat this whole banana for a dollar! For a fiver, I’ll deep throat something else…”
“Thank you mister crackhead, but I don’t have any money to pay you for this. It also smells. REALLY bad.”
A rare picture of Corey Haim in his final days. Hugs not drugs, kids.
Anubis will return next time in
“Heads on Pianos: Return of the Black Gift”
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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: Ashok “Soodhu Kavvum” Selvan , Sanchita “Soodhu Kavvum” Shetty , Nasser “Fair Game”
Writer & Director: Deepan Chakravarthy
Also Known As: The Villa
Sequel to: Pizza
Welcome back, boils and ghouls! I hope all of my fellow ugly Americans had a horrible Thanksgiving holiday and have my talons crossed that more than a few of you were unceremoniously trampled to death amid the fervor and fever of the following Black Friday Madness. I kid, of course, because if you’re reading this review, that means you’re hopefully the type of person I’d get along with, in which case I’m a well-wisher, in that I don’t wish you any specific harm. Where the Hel was I going with this? Meh. Fuck it. Moving on.
Rather than hitting our next stop on the World Tour, I opted for yet another side trip on the scenic route. I liked India’s Pizza enough that I wanted to see what its sequel had to offer. Besides, what better bread to use in a review sandwich where Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (see previous episode) is the meat than a pair of Pizzas? Yeah, there are more levels to my methods than there are floors in Elevator Action…or not. I honestly can’t recall how many floors there were in Elevator Action, so my boastful statement could very well be incorrect. I never should have said it in the first place. I’m sorry.
In something of a throwback to the glory days of ’80s bad movies like The Curse, P2 is a sequel that has no direct connection with its predecessor. Thematically, you could call it a spiritual successor (pun most assuredly intended) given the common subject of “Indian haunted house movie” and the inclusion of another (albeit less grandiose) Shyamalan-ed finale. But by Tom Turkey’s gizzard bag, there isn’t the slightest mention of pizza anywhere in the damn movie! Why even call it a Pizza sequel?! Oh wait, I know why: to cash in on name recognition. Well, congratulations Thirukumaran Entertainment. If nothing else, you managed to convince a middle-aged Beardo-American incarnation of the Egyptian Death God to watch your movie for free on YouTube. Thumbs up.
Technicalities aside, it’s business time! Let’s kick back, straw fuck a couple of those little boxes of Ecto Cooler you’ve been saving since 1993 (it’s comin’ back, ya know!), and take a tour of The Villa! Cue the music.
A brand new movie calls for a brand new cast. As such, our brand new hero is Jebin (Ashok Selvan). Jeb (not to be confused with Jeb! Bush – note the lack of an exclamation point) is a struggling writer locked in mortal combat with book publishers who don’t want to print his novel. He’s all about high brow drama and suspense and challenging his readers, while they just want Twilight rip-offs. In other words, rip-offs of a rip-off of Laurel K. Hamilton’s stuff, written by a bored Mormon housewife with latent necrophiliac tendencies. Did I say “latent”? I meant “blatant”. BLATANT NECROPHILIAC TENDENCIES. It’s only Stephanie Meyers’ interest in beastiality that’s latent, otherwise all the little girls and their moist mommies would’ve watched Kristin Stewart getting mounted on the big screen by the derp-faced werewolf instead of the derp-faced corpse.
“BLATANT NECROPHILIAC TENDENCIES”? Looks like someone just found a name for their free form jazz-oompah band!
To add to Jeb’s problems, his father Marshall (Nasser) died recently during a 6 month coma. Though he was a painter and a musician, pops never approved of his son’s aspiration to be a successful novelist, and scolded the poor guy for having dreams of choosing a creative career path for his life. Weird. Maybe Marshall’s mom left his dad for a copy of The Kama Sutra when he was a kid, so he spent the rest of his life blaming books for his dad’s resultant rampant alcoholism? Either way, Marshall’s dead now, so his lifelong literary nightmare is no more. As for Jeb, it turns out that his disapproving daddy bequeathed him a here-to-unknown piece of property upon which sets one spiffy-as-fuck mansion of a house (our titular abode). Not sure why he was never told about the place before now (smart money’s on bad juju), but this is a fortuitous bit of news for our lead, given that Marshall’s home has been repossessed to cover unpaid debts accrued by Jeb during a failed business venture. Note to self: next time I’m on the verge of being evicted, find out if any of my relatives have me on their will, then start poisoning said relative’s Cocoa Puffs until they do the Mortal Coil (Un)Shuffle.
Jeb intends to sell the villa and use the windfall to self-publish his novel. I hope he planned on taking a business course or doing some kind of test audience research first! Dreamers are always the ones hardest hit when they finally wake up in the real world with the rest of us. Anyway, his fiancee (and our new female lead) Aarthi (Sanchita Shetty) convinces Jeb to at least look the place over first and consider taking up residence in the estate while he continues the hunt for a publisher rather than taking the money and doing the proverbial run. After checking out the spacious pad, decorated with his father’s painting and housing his father’s beloved piano, Jeb opts to go along with Arth and move in instead. It doesn’t hurt that the lady tempts him with the idea of having their wedding in the place, with said matrimonial bliss portrayed via impromptu music video. Well, I guess that’s something else the two Pizzas share: a romantic musical interlude. Anyway, it’s too bad for the real estate agent Jeb asked about finding buyers, who’s peskily persistent about bringing said potential payers by anyway and trying to convince our hero to reconsider. Fuckin’ real estate agents. They’d resell peoples’ graves if churches hadn’t already monopolized the market.
Can churches really do that? Puck if I know. Look it up. You might be surprised. Or maybe you won’t be. Like I said, I don’t know if that’s a real thing or not. It definitely sounds like something churches would do. Hell, Mormons convert corpses posthumously, so there’s not a lot that organized religion can do that would surprise me anymore! I really miss the Old Kingdom days…
(Do you know how much Alpha Flight porn I came across while looking for this pic? More than zero. That’s too much!)
No sooner does Jpeg make the house his home, then strange happenings start up. Some good (a publisher buys his book and contracts him to write another!), some gruesome (a rotting dog carcass appears in his yard, seemingly from nowhere), and some Encyclopedia Brown (NOT a racist joke!) level shit too. Namely, a mysterious key, a Transformers painting (not literally, just in that it’s “more than meets the eye”), and a hidden room concealing a dark legacy that Marshall (and the house’s previous owners) left behind. The movie’s only a year old, so as usual we’re in the No Spoiler Zone (I hope you choke to death on your own scrotum, Bill O’Reilly) here and I won’t delve further into the plot past this period. You want to know the rest of the story? This ain’t “Reading Rainbow”, fuck-o! Go watch it yourself on YouTube or just ruin it yourself by reading the complete play-by-play on Wikipedia. I did that for Knock Knock and you know what? I don’t regret it. Especially since Eli Roth replied to my requests for a post-Green Inferno apology letter with a restraining order signed by his lawyer. Dick weasel.
And there you have it: Pizza 2. You know what? It’s good. Real good. Given that it’s the freshman effort for writer-director Chakravarthy, I’d go so far as to call it damn good! His setup and progression of the story is smoother and plenty suspenseful exactly where it’s most called for. The scene wherein Jeb finds the secret room is impressive, as his discovery is lit entirely by the ever passing beam of a nearby lighthouse and backed up with some appropriately foreboding music. You know, the kind of stuff that Satan puts on his hi-fi before impregnating hypnotized baby mamas-to-be. Speaking of, all of the music is perfectly good background stuff that fits the scenes nicely. Good on composer Santhosh Narayanan.
The cast is all good too. At least I think they are. I don’t speak Tamil, but everyone’s physical game was on form, from faces to body language to that weird head bob that Indian people do. Not to get too Seinfeld over it, but what is the deal with that head bob thing, anyway? Pardon me if the next part sounds like a “head up my own hole” art critic type of statement, but the villa itself is the real main character. Its interior breathes an atmosphere of something old, ornate, and ominous. The place has the feel of a warm antiquity with a heart of darkness. Something beautiful used to create some really fucked up, evil shit. Just like Dyanne Thorne!
If it’s so great though, why doesn’t it get the golden feather seal of approval? Sadly, there’s a really goofy Rube Goldberg sequence that makes the ones in the Final Destination movies look simpler than instant oatmeal. For an otherwise tense and dramatic flick, said scene of tumbling tables and acrobatic armoires is an out-of-place, unintentional laugh that was only put in to give the studio an excuse to charge audiences extra rupees for the 3D treatment. Coupled with the needless twist that hinders the final act more than helps it, and we get a pair of unfortunate potholes in an otherwise smooth road.
Villa isn’t perfect, but I think I like it better than its forerunner. Not that I didn’t like Pizza as a whole, but the last 4 minutes of it were the movie viewing equivalent of Jabba the Hutt sneezing on the last slice of a Chicago deep dish. Villa‘s finale, on the other hand, finishes out on a higher note. A twist ending was expected, so I went into it with zero surprise or fanfare, but at least this one doesn’t shit the bed. It’s a tad more predictable than the last one, but in that way where you feel smarter for having sussed it out yourself ahead of time rather than in that “Tales From the Crypt” bullshit “because karma” way.
There don’t seem to be any plans in place to extend this double feature out into a trilogy. At least not from what I was able to find on the worldwide wasteland. Not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but I do know that I’d like to see what kind of resumes either Chekravarthy or Karthik Subbaraj (writer-director of the original) establish for themselves following their forays into cinematic spook houses. I’d slaughter a goat in their honor, but that’s some pretty medieval cruelty by today’s standards. Instead, I’ll kill a few corned beef sliders from Arby’s. Yes! I discovered there are things on their menu that don’t make dumpster sludge look like a viable alternative for your mid-afternoon munchies! Not to be confused with Munchies, which is not a viable alternative to Gremlins, despite what Roger Corman would have you believe. That would be Critters. Or Ghoulies.
Well, that’s pretty much it for this episode! EDB will be happy, at least, being my editor and all. There are some things where women prefer less length on, folks. Happy 16th anniversary, dear! 😀
“Well? Are you just going to stand there watching me all night, or are you going to turn this tuning fork solo into a duet?!”
From the look on the other guy’s face, I’d say Jeb picked a pretty poor time to denounce his religion and all of its followers…
“We’re looking more for books about young women who let wealthy older men degrade them and put things in their butt for sexual fulfillment. Do you write anything like that, perhaps?”
“Seriously Diane? Why do all of your paintings have to be of famous people as centaurs? There’s something wrong with you.”
“For the last time, it’s a mole, NOT an M&M! Stop trying to pick at it!”
Jeez Greg, what did you do, get into a fist fight with your lunch?! You look like you got tea bagged by a Sloppy Joe! Go wash your face and get back to work!
“What duh ya mean ‘am I drunk’?! Thish ish MYYYYY wedding day! Not yoursh! MINE! If I wanna have shomeshing to drrrrink to settle MY nervesh on MYYYY wedding, I WILL! I’m an adult! Who are you, my dad!? No, I really *hiccup* don’t recognize you. Are you my dad?!”
If this were a SyFy Original movie, a giant computer generated platypus-sea urchin hybrid would come out of the water to eat these two before going off to fight Sharktopus.
That is easily the worst prop dog corpse I’ve seen since that episode of “The People’s Court” where the special effects guy sued the producer of a low budget movie because he wouldn’t pay him for the shitty prop dog corpse he made. It looks like an emaciated Pillow Pet!
“Oh mighty Lord Dagon! I ask you to rise from the depths and take my father’s life as sacrifice to the greatness of the Deep Ones!”
“Billy, why can’t you just throw a temper tantrum when I refuse to buy you ice cream, like a normal kid?”
Oh look! There IS a pizza in this movie! And they’re eating in a PitStop restaurant, like the one seen in the original Pizza! Specious justification of title successful!
“I’m sorry, Sir, but as the ad stated, the price for my son is 15,000 and not a rupee less!”
It’s the ghost of Santa Chewbacca!
“I call this piece, ‘Slender Man Takes a Bride’. It’s from my ‘Creepypasta Period’. The bidding starts at 15. Bitcoins only!”
Anubis will return next time in
Featuring: Randy “12 Rounds 2” Orton , Eric “The Pope of Greenwich Village” Roberts , Steven Michael “Breaking Bad” Quezada
Director: Roel “The Man with the Iron Fists 2” Reiné
Writer: Alan “Halloween 4: the Return of Michael Myers” McElroy
Sequel to: The Condemned
Surprise! You thought you were going to get some more international flavor this week with a new “World Tour de Farce” review, but instead you’re getting yet another “professional wrestler thinks he’s an action movie leading man” flick in The Condemned 2! Again, we see there is nothing you possess that I cannot take away. Especially when I’m the one giving you said thing, and the actual transferal of possession has not yet been enacted! Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha *cough*cough*cough* HAAAA! *cough*
World Wrestling Entertainment gave us the original Condemned in 2007. It was like a grown-up, paramilitary, pirate internet version of Battle Royale. Or, a Running Man minus all the neon lights, gimmicked killers, and Richard Dawson. Being a WWE Films production, they cast one of their own as its star – former wrestling icon “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, not to be confused with “The Six-Million Dollar Man” Steve Austin (who, in turn, isn’t to be mistaken for “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase). Though it was a massive financial boondoggle to the company (their biggest cinematic money pit to date), most wrestling fans consider it to be one of, if not the best of the company’s movie offerings, so it makes sense that they’d eventually sequelize it.
Now, having made The Marine 4, Behind Enemy Lines 3, 12 Rounds 3, and See No Evil 2, The Condemned was the last guy in the power plant not to receive “Employee of the Month”. As WWE doesn’t employ inanimate carbon rods (they’re very careful about their hiring practices these days, since you never know when Linda McMahon might run for Senate again), it’s The Condemned‘s time to shine!…with Randy Orton as the lead. By the racist fucking skullet of Hulk Hogan, what did I do to deserve this?!
Randy Orton. Randy “STUPID!” Orton. Randy “Just do enough to get by” Orton. Randy “Shitbag who shits in bags” Orton. As he’s known in our household, Blandy Bore-ton. As the chaps at Old School Wrestling Review once described him, “oozing with banality”. In the wrestling world, he is the alpha and omega of douchebags. He’s a legacy (his grandpa and dad were both wrestlers), he’s a crony (he’s best friends with Paul “Triple H” Levesque, one of the heads of the company), he has a history of drug abuse (cocaine [Randy Snortin’], steroids and painkillers), had a dishonorable discharge from the US Marines for going AWOL (a fact that came up when veterans protested his casting as the title hero in The Marine 3) and he’s an outright asshole (including defecating in female wrestlers’ luggage and breaking character just to berate other wrestlers during matches). He also goes by the nickname of “The Viper” (hence this episode’s alternate title) and has a stupid tribal tattoo on his arm that he tried to cover up with another of a pile of skulls, but is fooling no one as the original is still prominent. What a fuckin’ knob. Enough of the miserable reality, let’s get to the miserable fantasy.
Will Tanner (Orton) is a bounty hunter. He leads a posse of similarly minded individuals in the pursuit of wayward criminals for fun and profit. The latest target of these roughneck rednecks is one sinister son of a cunt named Cyrus (Wes Studi – a.k.a. Sagat in the Street Fighter live-action movie!) who runs an underground gambling operation where sick fucks bet on disturbing shit like which homeless guy hooked up to a Kevorkian Express will shed their unwashed mortal coil first. In a fit of movie irony, Will tells his boys to keep it non-lethal (this a “Wanted: Dead or Alive minus the ‘Dead’ part” contract), only to manslaughter the crap outta Cyrus when the villain is impaled on one of his own death machines. Hmmmm, a double scoop of irony? I really shouldn’t. I’m on a diet.
This fight shows us right off the bat that our protagonist probably only won the leadership role because he picked the longest straw, as it clearly wasn’t for his intelligence or tactical wits. When he has Cy dead-to-rights and lined up in his sights, Willie makes the incredibly stupid move of getting within the bad man’s reach. From there it’s elementary for Cyrus to disarm the doofus and prompt the ensuing struggle. Guns are made to kill and/or maim from a distance. From. A. DISTANCE. Why in the names of Horace Fucking Smith and Daniel Fucking Wesson (weird how they both had the middle name “Fucking”) would you flush the entire advantage of having a firearm down the metaphorical shitter by getting so close to your still very upright target that you can smell whether or not he had onions on his Whopper for lunch?! And Tanner’s supposed to be a trained bounty hunter!? If anyone reading this happens to know Alan McElroy or Roel Reiné, would you please punch them in the dick for me? Hell, even if you know neither but still know someone else cursed with either of those names, kindly do the same. But don’t mention my name. I’ve got enough “conspiracy to commit bodily harm” charges pending as it is.
Due to his epic botch, six months later Tanner ends up on trial for manslaughter. Though the judge presiding over the case makes her disdain for bounty hunters known (if ya wanna chase bad guys, become a cop), she gives him a suspended sentence and probation. Remorseful for his actions (though you wouldn’t know it by Orton’s expressionless “acting”), Billy goes home to his dad Frank (Eric Roberts) to tell him that he’s quitting the family business. Ah, so Will only got the manager position for the posse through nepotism. That makes sense. Having spent the last 30 years building the Tanner brand as the number one name in independent ne’er-do-well nabbing contractors in ALL of lower mid-western New Mexico, Frank’s not happy about the fruit of his loin turning his back on the bond jumper biz over one little unintentional murder.
Their resulting argument is almost like that scene in Varsity Blues where James Van Der Beek shouts “I DON’T WANT YOUR LIFE!” at his dad, except the actors are twice as old and all of the passion and defiance is instead replaced with lazy, even toned sarcasm while a mood of “When do we get our paychecks, again?” hangs heavy in the atmosphere. Riveting stuff to watch…in that I’d rather have rivets fired directly into the sides of my skull than have to wade through another minute of this cinematic landfill.
By the way, for anyone wondering why I’d use such a classy arrangement of letters as “cinematic” in this review, it’s in no way because I find anything professional or artistic about The Condemned 2. I’m using it in the “having qualities characteristic of motion pictures” manner. Inasmuch as this movie has moving images and is thus, technically, a “motion picture”. Carry on.
Without the big bucks of the manhunting industry to keep him in Wrangler jeans and Ford trucks, Billy Bob takes on a new job as a tow truck driver to make ends meet. One of his first calls is a pair of young women in Daisy Dukes and crop tops (likely local models, friends of the cast/crew, or just hopefuls fresh off the casting couch) who giggle and whisper things to each other while he changes their tire. There’s no real implication of what it is they’re saying to each other, but I entertain myself on the possibility that they’re talking about how the guy changing their tire looks like he doesn’t have two brain cells to rub together, and they’re formulating a plan where in he’ll give them all of his money before he leaves or straight up Knock Knock him. Oh but to dream my dreamy dreams, with their creamy dreamy filling. Mmmmm, filling.
Our hero’s next service call changes his life forever, as it’s from his old bounty hunting pal…uhm… honestly, I didn’t bother to write down any of their names. They’re mas macho types who call each other by their last names (being on a first name basis is apparently too intimate for tough guys), and as such I remember the sniper’s (Dylan Kenin) name is Travis [like singer Randy] and another (Morse Bicknell) goes by “Michaels” [like Shawn]…uhm, the retired pro-wrestler, not the one-man Mandingo party porn actor. That’s Sean Michaels. In case you were wondering. Okay then.
Anyway, when Willie fixes said former co-hunter’s car (his battery connector just came undone…hint hint), the guy awkwardly invites him out for a beer in thanks. Unless this was just this dude’s way of trying to get Will out on a man-date with him to lube his inhibitions up with a few brews before confessing his long held secret romantic intentions for our leading man (only if he’s “leading” us straight to Nap Town), his nervous demeanor betrays that there’s some ulterior motive to this social exchange. Given that there’s also a camera equipped drone following the pair around, this is clearly our entry point (front door or back?) into the figurative Thunderdome that is to be The Condemned 2: the Search for Randy’s Personality.
Each member of the Tanner bounty party has been assigned to assassinate their erstwhile chieftain Will, lest their failure to comply be taken out in the form of ultra-violence against them and/or their loved ones. Meanwhile, a speakeasy of high rollers have gathered to watch the spectacle as they gamble on which of the contestants will be the one to finally finish off their deadpan prey. The troublemaker organizing this Laff-A-Lympics of death is Cyrus’s surviving sidekick-turned-avenger Raul (Steven Michael Quezada), who’s vowed a blood vendetta against his ex-boss’s bored looking butcher-by-circumstance. The rest of the movie is pretty much what you’d expect: Tanner runs around shooting guns at people, trying to save his neck while getting to the bottom of Raul’s game and doing his best to keep collateral fatalities to a minimum, as a good guy does. That’s pretty much it. Now you don’t need to see it for yourself, unless your medicine cabinet is pulling a “Mother Hubbard’s cupboard” and is barren of the sleep aid of your choice, in which case 20 minutes of The Condemned 2 will put you out in a pinch!
That wasn’t a joke. I’m serious. This movie put me to sleep during my first attempted viewthrough. Granted, that may have been my fault for starting it at 1AM after a long day of soul reaping and Underworld political crap (we had to fight management hard to get that break room back!) without any type of artificial ambition boosting my brain, but even sitting through the last twenty minutes the next morning were like going 5 rounds of bare-knuckle with Morpheus! For fuck’s sake, just writing this review right now is tantamount to drinking a tall glass of warm milk prepared by Bill Cosby. I have to keep deleting the *yawns* I’m unconsciously typing out in every paragraph!
Randy Orton speaks with such an eyelid burdening monotone. Terminators have more emotional resonance than this guy! As a former drug addict, maybe he’s on mood stabilizers or something and his complete charisma coma is medically induced? Wherever the true blame lies, the reality is still right there, dropping steaming dumplings in our figurative luggage: this man should NOT be starring in even the directest of direct-to-video action flicks. He’d be more relatable as the leading role in his own autopsy video than what he’s giving us here, and I’m not exaggerating. Was he contractually obligated to be in this movie by WWE and just did his best impression of a cardboard cutout so they’d never bother him about being in any more movies!? Z’Dar’s CHIN (my version of “Zeus’s BEARD!”), the man is the Typhoid Mary of digitally transmitted Narcolepsy! I have never, EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEVER (thank you, Chris Jericho) watched a movie with Eric Roberts in a supporting role and thought, “Wow, if he were the star, this movie would be so much better!”. If nothing else, The Condemned 2 has proven to me that anything is possible.
I’ve never seen any of Orton’s other movies, so I have no clue if this is how he tackles all of his roles. I do know that Quezada was never one to chew the scenery in “Breaking Bad” though, so maybe all of the blame should go on Mr. Reiné’s back? It could be another The Dark Knight situation where Chris Nolan made Chris Bale do the gravelly voice until all of Batman’s scenes were just a big joke and almost completely unwatchable. Either way, Orton should stay away from all future movie sets and just keep his shtick in the squared circle. Be happy with your athletic prowess and leave the acting to the actors. Or Eric Roberts.
The rest of the movie is just as sterile as its star’s performance. The camera work is fumbly (I think it’s supposed to be shaky cam, but as directed by a 10 year old), the overall direction feels like a slog through plain oatmeal from Point A to Point B with zero spices or fruit thrown in. The rest of the cast’s acting ranges from “good enough” to “please just shut up already”, the fight choreography is slow and sloppy (great for a blowjob, not for a fight scene) despite the attempts to cover it up by jostling the camera around while they’re happening. The music has to be some of the most generic background crap I’ve ever heard. This entire feature was just a poorly planned shit show from opening credits to end credits. It’s not even bad from a fun-to-mock standpoint. The moderate production values keep it from being a full blown skid mark, but that’s as good as it gets. Forgettable and regrettable.
There’s one unintentional running joke I’d like to end this on though, to make the writing of this review and your reading of it at least somewhat worthwhile. As mentioned prior, like any copy-and-paste paramilitary group, Tanner’s team-turned-tormentors has one member who’s a skilled sniper. In case you forgot already (and I don’t blame you), his name is Travis. Well, Travis is supposed to be a skilled sniper, but he’s not. The credo of the sniper is “one shot, one kill”, denoting that their job is to kill with surgical precision, needing only one bullet to put down their intended target. Throughout his time stalking Tanner, Travis fires 30+ rounds from his rifle (not including the 60 or more fired from his uzi) and manages to kill…well, let’s just say the spoiler free version of his murder math is something far far FAR (like “a galaxy far far away” far!) less accurate than the gold standard. If I gave my 80 year old grandmother a single-shot rifle with 30 rounds of ammunition, put her inside Dorothy Gale’s house while it was caught in the twister that carried it to Oz, took away her glasses and tasked her with shooting half a dozen Munchkins also thrown into the cyclone, I guarantee you her fatalities-to-rounds fired ratio would put this Travis guy into a shame spiral so deep that he’d need a grappling hook and half a mile of rope to pull himself out of it!
Whew! I’m winded just reading that last sentence. I need to lay down and catch my breath after this. By the beers of Billy Carter, I’m too Murtaugh for this shit.
Even when he’s pulling a “spray and pray” with his uzi, Travis still manages to miss his targets! He has no problem perfectly strafing his shots in an almost impossibly narrow line along the top of a fruit and veggie stand (sending fragments of splattered produce into the air), but hitting the trio of full grown adults scuttling in an orderly fashion directly behind said stand is just impossible for this fucking career marksman to hit. My rage over this, combined with my need to count the amount of ammo this guy burned through to such minimal effect, are pretty much all I had to keep me from giving out on my second viewing. When you’re on the Titanic, the best you can do is grab whatever flotation device you can and hope you get back to shore before the bitter death grip of Mother Nature can drag you down into her frigid black oblivion. I think my metaphor got a little out of hand there, but the initial message is still in there somewhere. I’ll leave it up to you to exhume it.
Okay, that’s enough of that. Bottom line: the truly condemned in The Condemned 2 are the people who pay for this movie. As for me? I’m going to see if I can discover a way to distill its essence and market it as a cure for insomnia! Provided I can withstand extended exposure to its background radiation….long enough…to……….stay…awake………… *zzzzzzzzzzzzzz*
That thing should come with a Surgeon General’s Warning.
Elderly people hooked up to suicide machines against their will while non-white criminals gamble on which dies first? I’m not sure if this was taken from the movie or a 2013 Faux News report about ObamaCare.
This profile leaves out the “Zach Galifianakis impersonator available for private parties on weekends” part of Mr. Cooper’s resume.
This photo was taken of Mr. Merrick after the sandwich shop regretfully informed him that they were all out of jalapeno cream cheese for his cheddar bagel. Sorry Cyrus, early bird gets the jalapenos!
“I have you, a man armed with a knife, at a great disadvantage due to my possession of a firearm! Though I should be forcing you to the ground so one of my partners can restrain you, allow me to approach you until I’m well within range of your knife, giving you ample opportunity to disarm me and put my life in immediate danger!”
Don’t get your hopes up, like I did. This isn’t the moment where the whole movie turns into a surprise sequel to Maximum Overdrive and we see Randy Orton run over by a pissed off truck. “When you wish upon a star” my hairy ebon ass!
“You just sit back and watch how a real actor carries a low budget action movie, Junior.”
“You think if we flirt with the tow truck driver he won’t charge us?”
“Duh! Why else would we dress like this!?”
This is what happens when people don’t respect the “my quarter on the table means I get next game” rule!
“I was a supporting character in one of the most critically acclaimed television shows of all time! Don’t you dare mock me for chewing scenery in one crappy movie! I’ve earned a pass on this one!”
Ever since “Breaking Bad”, wanna-be meth cooks have caused staggering rate increases in the “mobile home explosion” insurance industry over the last few years.
Awww, it’s so cute when rednecks watch car movies and try to emulate them. I see somebody finally rented Fury Road from the Red Box kiosk at their nearest WalMart!
Hanukkah casino parties are becoming a popular trend for the kids at the synagogues these days. Let that gelt ride, bubbale!
Anubis will return next time in
“Life of Pi(e)”
Featuring: Roddy “Hell Comes to Frogtown” Piper , Shane “Divided Loyalties” Douglas , Kurt “Sharknado 2: The Second One” Angle
Director & Writer: Cody “Lucifer’s Unholy Desire” Knotts
“While I wish you would have enjoyed it…I loved reading your review…I laughed and laughed. You have a talent for writing funny reviews (though I would focus less on references to feces..you have a real talent for whit).
Anyways, thanks for the review, even though it wasn’t good.”
Did you know that gods have gods? Yep. You know that old adage “Respect your elders”? Same applies to us, hence the term “Elder Gods”. The elderest of gods, Cthulhu, recently blessed me for my Cthulhumas sacrifices by gifting me with the second highest item on my tribute want list: Pro Wrestlers Vs. Zombies. The highest? Same as it always is: 1985 Barbara Crampton. But, like the little girl who asks for a pony every year (looking at you, Demeter), I’m destined to never get the one gift I really want. Oh well, time to get the disappointment out of my system by kicking the tar out of my silver medal!
By the way, as a lifelong pro wrestling geek, I had a few dozen wrestling related jokes to make through this episode. However, I didn’t want to alienate 90% of my audience, so I’ll be making an effort to stick to the general garbage movie defecation commentary you normally get out of me. Consider it your New Years endowment from moi.
Battling Billy (Michael H. Richmond, whose missing credit I actually had to submit to the IMDB cast listing!) is a professional wrestler. Well, given that performing in high school gymnasiums in front of 15-20 people at a time can’t possibly provided him enough money to survive on, “professional” probably isn’t the right word. Let’s just say Billy’s a wrestler. Period. Semantics aside (not to be confused with “semen ticks inside”, which makes my ebony fur stand on end just typing the words), Billy’s ring name is a big fat blumpkin in the realm of grappler monikers. Given that this was written by an obvious wrestling fan, “Bruiser Billy” would’ve been a much better alias. Not just because “Battling Billy” sounds like some kid’s submission to a Masters of the Universe create-a-character contest, but because “Bruiser Billy” would’ve been a decent call back to Bruiser Brody, whose murder is one of wrestling’s most infamous instances. It’s serious “Diagnosis Murder” type shit. Check out the following link to get the story from wrestling industry mainstay “Dirty” Dutch Mantell, who currently goes by the Tea Party conservative parody persona Zeb Colter in WWE.
Brody’s murder aside, wrestlers like to claim that they’re a brotherhood in the locker room, but they’re really just like any other boys’ club: at each other’s throats the minute money or pussy comes into the picture. Such is the case when Billy crosses washed up (actual) professional wrestler Shane “the Franchise” Douglas (playing himself) by dipping his pen in Dougie’s ink…by which I mean Mr. Battling is tossing his hot dog down Shane’s hallway. Well, not his hallway. I mean the upstart’s fucking the old man’s girlfriend, Taya (playing herself)!
Anyway, catching Tay wrapped around the younger man’s waist like a cheap replica championship belt, Shane doesn’t take too well to the scene. Rather than breaking up with her like an adult though, he instead breaks Billy’s neck during their match with a “botched” tombstone piledriver move. Yep, he kills him with a move called a “tombstone”. No room in the budget for subtlety, I’m afraid.
An indeterminate amount of time later (I guess screen subtitling ended up next to subtlety on the budgetary kill floor), Billy’s brother Angus (Ashton Amhurst) hires promoter Cody Knotts (yep, it’s the director playing himself) and his Extreme Rising wrestling promotion to set up an indie show at an abandoned penitentiary. Anus, errr Angus, insists that Douglas and Taya headline the event, then lets Dog Knotts fill in (yeah, as a man-dog I hear dog knots are pretty filling…) the rest of the card with other has-been grapplers like Roddy Piper and Hacksaw Jim Duggan, still active (just barely) guys like Matt Hardy and Kurt Angle, and some never-weres like what’s-his-name, who’s-it, and you know, that guy. Always wore a shirt? Yeah, him. All of which are self-players as well.
Quick time out. Angus’s ear raping Scottish accent would make Scrooge McDuck and Haggis McHaggis weep with disgust. Someone named Scott Miller gets credit for doing said voice, so Amherst didn’t even do his own lines?! What is this, Horror of Party Beach!? Scratch that. Party Beach‘s monsters were more realistic than the zombies we end up with here. They look like they were made up by a buncha brats during “Bring Your Kids to Work Day” at the Savini School. Blart. Anyway, as we were.
Shane’s given a scene with his extended family shortly after, where he indoctrinates his nephew to be a total Franchise mark. It’s supposed to somehow humanize a bloated sack of shit who we already know is responsible for MURDERING another man just because they became Eskimo brothers (look it up). All this interlude managed to do was make me want to slap the Fruit Loops out of the kid’s mouth, but the urge to backhand kids in movies is normal for me. Annoying turds. Once this is over, Shane and Roddy Piper have a scene where we learn that the two are apparently long term buddies, which is fine. My problem with the scene is the mob of children crowded around Piper begging for autographs. It’s not the kids themselves where my problem lies, it’s that nobody under the age of 25 even knows who the fuck Roddy Piper is! Maybe they mistook him for one of the creatures on “Yo Gabba Gabba!”? Sure, slap a kilt on him and replace his head with a bagpipe with huge googly eyes glued to it and I could see this being a thing.
Reunited for the show, Dougie Fresh and Skanky Not-So-Fresh hook up just like old times…which may very well have been anywhere from a few days ago to a few years. Again, it’s not clear how long it’s been since Billy got broke. Meanwhile, Piper makes friendly with a woman named Sarah (Adrienne Fischer), who’s just been hired as the new Extreme Rising head of marketing. Her whole hook for getting hired is that she promises Snotts (who spends their entire meeting feeling her up like he was that creepy uncle that isn’t invited to family gatherings) that she can make their little wrestling organization the biggest in the world…no. In a movie about zombies fighting men in tights, THAT statement is the most unrealistic thing in these entire 90 minutes. Suspending disbelief is one thing, but that’s the kind of crap that requires utter expulsion of your disbelief into the vacuum of deep space. I’ll let the Iron Sheik express my thoughts further on this one:
In a weird bit of idiocy, when the wrestlers’ bus arrives at the prison (nobody can afford their own cars, it seems), they’re randomly offered a chance to “challenge the gods” and “achieve their destiny” by doing combat “in the arena”. Are they performing in an abandoned prison or at Medieval Times?! Before they’re allowed off the bus though, they’re ordered to hand over their cell phones. Horror movie much? Well, that addresses why no one will be able to call for help later when they’re chin deep in living dead. Stupidly addresses, but addresses none the less. No sooner do our faces (wrestling terminology for good guys) get inside, then they’re confronted by Angus’s personal horde of necromanced undead heels (wrestling’s bad guys) and the movie finally lives up to its title. Well, it only took half an hour to get there, so my “finally” may have been a tad unnecessary. Wait a sec. Now that the zombie rampage has already started, what the fuck are they gonna spend the next hour on?! Uh-oh…
Yep, that’s it. The final 2/3 of the movie is really just a series of sequences wherein hordes of zombified extras chase the wrestlers and other cast members, killing them one-by-one, then moving onto the next. Do I look like a shitter? Because I shit you not. The script has to be about 10 pages long. Well, at least they give what they advertise, so that’s something, right? It’s like going into a place called “Ruptured Balls” and not expecting to get your testicles destroyed. They never said it was going to be enjoyable, they just advertised ruptured balls. Just like nobody advertised an enjoyable movie, just one where pro wrestlers go up against zombies. Hey, at least I can admit when my suffering is my own fault!
Sure, at one point Tying Knotts tries to write in that touching zombie movie staple where one of the survivors has to kill his best friend-turned-living dead a la Pete and Rog in Dawn of the Dead. The Romero one, you animals! But given how little time the movie actually dedicates to trying to make us give a shit about any of the cast on a personal level, NO time was spent showing us ANY connection between the two characters in question! Come on, guys. You invite us over to your place for a party, tell us it was a ruse to get us to help you move out of your 5th floor walk-up when we get there, then expect us to do all of the heavy lifting?! Fuck your couch. This is me throwing it through your big stupid picture window. Good luck getting your security deposit back!…and explaining to the cops how your couch ended up smashing your neighbor’s Lexus. I’m out!
Okay, I’m not out. I’ve still got pissing to piss, moaning to moan and bitching to bitch. While I’m on the topic of failed attempts to connect with the audience on a deeper level, there are a few more that shit the bed just as bad. Think Spud’s big brown breakfast in Trainspotting. These emotional moments resonate about as well as farts muffled by a pillow. Even the “will they die or won’t they?” scenes of manufactured tension end up as botched spots (wrestling lingo for failed moves). You know who’s gonna see the end credits and who’s just gonna wind up as the “meat” in an Arby’s pulled pork. Best example? At one point, Sarah’s overcome by a mob of grabby handed ghouls and struggles on the ground for several minutes as they paw at her. She eventually manages to escape without a scratch though because, surprise surprise, she’s scripted to have a future that doesn’t involve being fast food. Oh yeah, spoiler. Oops. Meh, you’ll get over it.
Speaking of pulled pork, whatever the effects guys spent on their “severed legs and torso” prop, they definitely got their money’s worth. Not based on the quality, mind you, just the number of scenes they use the stupid thing in. Remember that amazing scene where the asshole militant guy in Day of the Dead is torn in half while screaming “CHOKE ON IT!”? It was one of the movie’s greatest moments between his defiant death screams, the graphic realistic violence of the effects work and the fact that PEOPLE WEREN’T BEING TORN IN HALF EVERY 10 MINUTES. Sadly, the blood and gore is what you’d expect from a movie whose budget went to hiring out-of-work ex-wrestlers as its stars. It’s a whole bunch of red kero syrup and the occasional prop internal organs. Real effects zombie makeup and gore are an art. As stated prior, here it’s a shart. Multiple sharts, actually. Unrelenting, left and right, up and down, sharts. If it were to be named after a wrestling company, it’d be TNA: Total Nonstop Assblasters. Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhharts!
Speaking of pulled pork…I mean, speaking of sharts, how about that soundtrack?! The music is generic half-assed metal that brings to mind a garage band trying to emulate Monster Magnet. Then there’s the ear bleeding bagpipe thrash shit. Holy Lucky Charms in a Guinness, Dropkick Murphys it ain’t. On top of that, of all the covers I’ve heard of “Amazing Grace” in my eons, this movie’s end credits easily has the worst. Worse even than when Mike Tyson did it on that clip from the Arsenio Hall Show that never aired. While my ears are still bleeding, let me call out the audio mixing here too, because it’s TERRIBLE! A lot of the lines sound like they were re-dubbed in post, while the music just explodes in your ears at random at a few decibels higher than the dialog. I shouldn’t have to have my stereo remote within talon’s reach when I’m watching a movie to keep the old lady in the tomb downstairs from banging on the ceiling with her broom.
Despite the few exceptions, there’s a general rule in the wrestling business that actors shouldn’t cut wrestling promos and wrestlers shouldn’t act. PWVZ reminds us why that is. Even if this dialogue weren’t…damn it. It’s hard to come up with a dozen different synonyms for feces. It’s just bad, okay? I don’t know how much of it is written and how much, if any, is ad-libbed by the performers, but it’s awful. Anyway, the acting. Mercifully, at least most of the wrestlers only have a few short lines before they’re killed off. The majority of the work comes from Piper and Douglas. At least Douglas lives up to his infamously self-serving real-life personality by fucking everybody else over left and right, letting other people take the fall for his bullshit, and trying to set himself up as the big hero. Not sure if the guy was acting or just being followed with a camera. Very convincing. Fuck you “Dean”.
Then there’s Piper. It’s so depressing to think that Roddy went from They Live to this. Or hell, from Hell Comes to Frogtown to this! The cantankerous Canadian who made his career pretending to be a scandalous Scot (didja enjoy the mind blowing I just put on your brain?) has been through a lot in recent years, beating cancer (as did Hacksaw!) and making appearances on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”, but the guy’s lost a few steps. It’s a little too hard to believe someone who can barely walk (damn hip surgery…and age) fending off waves of the ravenous dead just because he’s the best actor on the call sheet. Then again, he does have the uncanny and possibly mystical ability to pull a crowbar out of thin air to plant into a ghoul’s head when the need arrives for one scene, so maybe that’s reason enough he would be able to survive. Wish I could pull that trick right now and put it through my computer screen!
Before I finish off this episode and wipe its residual remnants off of me with a moist towelette, I wanted to point out that Piper calls Angus a “red-headed stepchild Danny Bonaduche fuckin’ throwback red-headed Carrot Top fuck him reason for legal fuckin’ abortions”. It might be amazing, it might be awful, but whatever it is, there it is. He also declares that Angus is just an “All-American bully”, then proclaims his intentions to thrash him for being as such, despite Piper establishing his entire career on being a bully bad guy character who kicked Cyndi Lauper across a wrestling ring and smashed a coconut over Jimmy Snuka’s face before whipping him with a belt. Such is the inherent hypocrisy of the face turn (what it’s called when a bad guy becomes a good guy).
So Pro Wrestlers Vs. Zombies, a movie I anticipated for the better part of a year. It sucked on toes worse than even I had feared it would. Yet Troma still picked it up for distribution, when it couldn’t hang with Troma originals on their worst days. Hell, Troma’s trailer is better than the movie just by tacking Toxie’s face onto it and making a title card that DOESN’T feel like the Great Muta spewed green mist into my eyes while looking at it. For your perusal:
In closing, I’d like to play a round of The Dozens, strictly for my fellow industry nerds on the wrestling memes boards. The rest of you can skip ahead to the screen cap-caps (captures and captions).
And…go! This movie’s so bad, Kevin Nash tore his quad while watching it! It’s so bad, if it had double d titties, even Dean Ambrose wouldn’t wanna master ’em! It’s so bad, it made Rob Van Dam stop smoking weed and made CM Punk start! It’s so bad, it made Shawn Michaels an atheist! It’s so bad, it doesn’t even need Triple H to bury it, cuz it buries ITSELF! It’s so bad, it must’ve been written by Vince Russo and directed by Eric Bischoff! It’s so bad, it botches more in 90 minutes than Sin Cara did in all of 2013! It’s so bad, it made Terry Funk retire FOR GOOD! It’s so bad, it made Jake Roberts AND Scott (Scotch) Hall relapse! It’s so bad, even Dolph Ziggler won’t sell for it! It’s so bad, it makes The Dead Hate the Living look strong!.. but does nothing for Roman Reigns. Fuck you, Reigns. Your new outfit looks like some shitty Tron cosplay that you couldn’t get to light up. Your “Superman Punch” is a twat move.
Unless you’re a celebrity, a politician, or just rich. Then you can kill people wherever you want.
Looks like somebody just discovered Photoshop’s font options.
Grown men (well, adult men) dangerously throwing each other around for the entertainment of a dozen or so strangers in a gymnasium. Living the dream.
Tea bagging an unconscious guy while flipping everybody in the audience the bird? I see Sammy Hagar’s finished “quality testing” his latest batch of Cabo Wabo.
Your writer-director, ladies and gentlemen of the audience. Just as shabbily thrown together as his movie.
“Taz Jaguar”? Is that your father’s name, or did you take your mother’s maiden name after the divorce?
Black Mass Ceremonial Parkas (white only): just $4.99 this week, only at KMart!
“Forget it, kid. You might as well call me Hulk Hogan because I don’t put ANYBODY over!”
Extreme Rising corporate headquarters. Except on weekends, when it’s the gift shop for the historical reenactment village they rent the space from.
“Come on, Roddy. This guy says he wants to Kickstart a Frogtown reboot and he wants us to star! This could be my big break! I mean, OUR big break!”
To hell with expensive CGI effects. Just paint him green and Kurt Angle could star in the next Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie!
Bet Dennis Rodman wishes he would’ve stay in North Korea.
Apparently these zombies don’t crave brains. They just want to sink their teeth into man asses packed into shiny gold trunks like big ol’ Hershey Kisses.
“Stronger Than Death”? Fuck you, Matt Hardy. We’ll see who’s stronger this Sunday in our steel cage showdown!
“With a name like Smuckers, our zombies HAVE to be good!”
“God damn it, Shane! You are NOT going to die owning me fifty bucks! Gimme my damn money, you asshole!”
Roddy Piper reflects on his movie career decisions and wonders if maybe he’s finally fallen to the point that he should’ve just let the cancer take him.
“You don’t need to spend ten grand on a facelift, baby. I’ll just pull back your face like this, slap on a little rubber cement, and you’ll look ten years younger!”
“Shhhh! Don’t let any of the other guys here you say wrestling’s fake or they’ll piledrive your head into your lungs! It’s a very sensitive subject!”
Looks like somebody wandered away from the Nightmare City set.
And this guy used to be the NWA World Heavyweight Champion.
Bet Roddy REALLY wishes he’d left the house in his kilt today, rather than suffer the undead wedgie of doom!
Anubis will return next time in
“Radio Ga Ga, Eh?”
Featuring: Bill “Krampus the Christmas Devil” Oberst Jr. , Jason “Gut” Vail , Baby “Just Go 4 It” Norman
Director: Richard “A Diva’s Christmas Carol” Schenkman
Writers: Karl “Karl’s In a Coma” Hirsch , J. Lauren Proctor , Richard “A Diva’s Christmas Carol” Schenkman
“A man divided against himself cannot stand.”
“Hey, if you want me to take a dump in a box and mark it guaranteed, I will. I got spare time.” We all remember that brilliant line from Tommy Boy, delivered by the late and (sometimes) great Chris Farley. Well, if The Asylum were ever in the market for a fitting motto, there it is. Change the “me” to “us”, the “I”s to “we”s, and you’ve got a pretty apt description of their mission statement. If anybody reading this happens to work at the Sticky’s All-You-Can-Eat Pizza Hole and Waste Management Facility where the Asylum big wigs hold their board meetings, float that out there like a morning turd in the toilet bowl. I promise that at least one of them will offer you a job in their marketing division!
When I announced to my friends that I’d be reviewing today’s guaranteed dump (originally intended to be reviews for President’s Day until, well, I didn’t), everyone who knew what I was talking about replied that they’d turned it off at varying points in the running time. Not only did NO ONE make it to the end credits (fun bit of irony for a horror movie), but the general consensus of tolerance levels were in the 20-30 minute range. Was there a particular “ground zero” moment that drove these viewers in droves to hit the Stop button and walk away, or was it a steady poisoning of their systems and 20-30 minutes of such contamination was the point of saturation? This isn’t just a movie review now…this is science!
This bucket of bowel movements is Asylum’s rip-off of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Rather than being based on a book though, ALvZ is based on a crumpled napkin an Asylum writer found sitting in the alley behind his basement apartment. Encrusted with the remnants of cheap margaritas and even cheaper tacos, it no doubt fell out of the dumpster belonging to the Tex-Mex restaurant under which he lived. Amidst the multi-colored stains, some scribblings that may or may not have stated “steal both” baffled the alleged scribe, until he looked to his coffee table. Seeing a copy of “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” he’d borrowed from a friend sitting next to a DVD of Curse of the Cannibal Confederates given to him by his parents as a high school graduation present, a new Asylum feature was born. In a bit of personal experimentation, rather than have a shred of hope that ALvZ is going to be anything but the standard issue Asylum carnival of stupid, I went into this viewing with my expectations squarely in the john. Then I remembered that, again, this is a fucking Asylum movie, so I took my expectations out of the nice porcelain pot they were bobbing in, and instead tossed them into the infamous crapper from the pub in Trainspotting. Perfect. Now, as Dr. Clayton Forrester would say, let the experiment…BEGIN!
Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves, united the states, taught himself to read with a shovel (or something), and wrestled bears…though as more is uncovered about the secret life of our 16th president, those “bears” may be more in line with the gay community’s definition than Wild America’s. One of the things not covered in his illustrious upbringing is the apparent 1818 boyhood trauma of his mother’s transformation…into a zombie(!)…after she was attacked by them in the forest(!)…because…reasons!? Whatever brought this about, Abe’s dad couldn’t muster the gumption to kill his zombie wife, so he put a bullet in his own brain instead (great parenting, asshole, leaving your kids alone with a ghoul for a mom), tasking young Abe with the duty of decapitating dear mother Nancy himself. He did so with a scythe, which just supports my lifelong plan to live near farm country, providing me plenty of tool sheds and shotguns to pilfer when the zombiegeddon finally gets its lazy ass in gear.
We jump ahead to the summer of 1863. The year James Plimpton patented the four-wheeled roller skate, the first underground train opened in London, and Thomas Crapper invents the one-piece pedestal flushing toilet. Spoiler alert: that last one is an incredibly appropriate piece of info for what’s about to happen here. Meanwhile, The American Civil War rages on as Southerners fight for the right to continue claiming black people as tax-exempt property. Abe’s all grown up and Presidential, in charge of keeping the nation in one piece. He’s also become Bill Oberst, who’s locked in perpetual Lloyd Bridges mode for the extent of the movie. An important lynchpin to winning the war of gray vs. blue is capturing and maintaining the strategic point of Fort Polaski and controlling the Mississippi River. But, after sending a regiment to take Polaski under the banner of “Operation Big Shanty”, only one soldier returned alive…and his skin’s looking grayer than Robert E. Lee’s Sunday best. No sooner does he report to President Lincoln that Big Shanty went FUBAR due to a contingency of flesh eating maniacs residing in the fort, he then turns into one of the man munching monsters himself. Having had experience with the not-so-demised before (Mommy Mommy, choppy choppy), Lincoln fends off the zombie until a lackey can retrieve his trusty folding scythe from his carriage…that he just happens to carry with him…despite having never seen another zombie in the 45 years since relieving his mother’s use for bonnets…okay.
The president’s new “secret service” team is assembled to clear out and reclaim Polaski to both swing the Civil War in the Union’s favor and wipe out the living dead scourge before it can spread like so much shit water from the clogged toilet in a Taco Bell bathroom. They really need to put limits on the amount of food one customer can order. Unless they’re getting it “to go”, in which case they can put their own crapper in jeopardy. Let’s just say I’ve heard horror stories and will never be able to look at a Taco Bell Party Pack again without igniting my gag reflex. Blart. Anyway, when the Major assigned to lead the group is killed by the ghoul, Abe appoints himself the new leader of the task force, citing his “prior experience” with the disease as his leading asset…because just telling a new leader that the disease is spread through bites, and that the only way to kill them is decapitation or burning them would waste valuable time…and because I guess he figured Andrew Johnson was gonna replace him eventually anyway!
Proving that he practiced what he preached, Lincoln’s Suicide Squad (or “Task Force X” if you’re nerd enough) includes one black agent, who could only be given a position on a top secret operation due to the potential political controversy if the public knew their government employed a black man. Hence the term “black op” was born, and the rest is made-up history that you school-aged readers probably shouldn’t reference for any history reports. Also, the black dude’s there so he can bring the term “zombie” into the mix later on, given the term’s Haitian origin, and lay out the irony of enslaved people owning slaves themselves, albeit dead ones. The Abe Brigade also includes an interesting member that eventually leads to one of the solitary good kernels of corn in this shit log of a crap-ass cash-in effort, so I won’t spoil who it is. All I’ll say is that it adds an interesting re-visioning to the President’s ill-fated future as an unsuccessful theater critic. If you want to find out the mystery prize in this box of Cocoa Poops though, you’ll have to earn it yourself and bury your hands in up to the elbows. Whether it’s worth the challenge to your tolerance levels will vary from person to person, but let me remind you–-I’m the only person I know who actually saw this cinematic skid mark through to its dingle-berry bedazzled end.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself here, when I’d much rather be getting myself head. Wakka wakka! Lincoln leads his logs (not an actual joke, just a needless pun) to Polaski, and with the exception of a few fodder agents who end up as bite victims, the good guys do well at clearing out the shuffling maggot manufactories, mostly thanks to Mr. Lincoln and his newly revealed deadly arts of leap-‘n’-slash-fu. I really need to commission Osiris for one of those short-arm folding blade scythes. It’d shave much needed hours off of my reaping schedule and leave me with a lot more time to review… Asylum… movies… fuuuuuuuuuuck. Never mind. Securing the fort (which was mostly secure already, until Lincoln’s men attracted zombies into the place with their gunfire), the Secret Service finds a small group of Rebels holed up in the basement, led by famed southern military strategist General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. Not to be confused with county music man Stonewall Jackson, who sang “Waterloo” and “BJ the DJ” (not about what its title implies), though that was the musicians real name and he did claim to be a descendant of the original. Everyone immediately thinks I’m related to David Bowie despite how we spell and pronounce our last names differently. I do like to sometimes claim that Tandy Bowen (Dagger of “Cloak & Dagger”) is my cousin though, despite the fact that she’s a completely fictional character… plus I’d feel really gross for doing the knuckle shuffle to someone who’s actually my cousin… and don’t bring up the irony of how the Egyptian mythological pantheon was full of incest anyway. That was a different time, and I’m not about to take the “racist grandparents” excuse and chalk it up to being “from a different time”. Cork it.
Stonewall (and his HUGE, super fake, glued-on beard) surrenders himself and his remaining men to Lincoln’s Logs (just let me have this!), but refuses to agree with the president that the soldiers and civilians he just got done beheading were necessary casualties. Stoney PlayStation 4 (okay, that one was just to boost search engine hits, I’ll cop) is convinced that the recently diseased/deceased are just in need of medical treatment, and Honest Abe’s just a murder happy maniac looking to take out his “reverse racism” hate on the slavery lovin’ southerners. This from a time period where a shot-off toe resulted in a full leg amputation for fear of the spread of gangrene, yet this knob thinks that a ravenous full-body cannibal infection can somehow be fixed with snake oil and coal water. Must be all that inbreeding. Sorry to offend any southern readers, but stop breeding with your kin. If we deities can help ourselves, so can you, damn it. You just have to want to. If nothing else, do it for the sideshow of tormented offspring you would’ve conceived that would one day grow up to turn on you and burn you all alive in your trailer to wipe the blight of your broken genetic legacy from the face of the Earth. Long-term investments, Cletus.
Fun fact: the name Cletus/Cleatus is of Greek origins, and means “illustrious”. Meanwhile, the modernized definition would be “slack jawed yokel” or “football playing robot that murdered the Burger King”.
Locking the uncooperative grays up, the blues secure the fort in typical zombie movie DIY style. In the basement they find and are overrun by a gaggle of hungry corpses. While escaping into an already boarded up section of the fort, they find another small group of survivors. Shit, this has to be one of the biggest speaking casts for an Asylum movie EVER…which would explain why they all act about as well as a real movie’s background extras. Anyway, this new group is led, conveniently enough, by Abe’s prostitute ex-girlfriend Mary Owens (played by the unfortunately named Baby Norman), and includes a young boy from New York who was separated from his family and ended up there during the outbreak. I won’t spoil who the boy is, but let’s just say that Abe encourages him to avoid attracting the zombies by speaking in a soft tone, and defend himself from them with the use of a sizable length of timber. And yes, if you have a basic knowledge of American political history (or you too watched that Bugs Bunny cartoon where he ran for office opposite Yosemite Sam), your brain probably just vomited acid all over itself in a desperate bid for oblivion too.
Okay, so we’ve got the zombie movie staples all in play – a group of survivors with conflicting viewpoints, both moral and political, some of whom share a rocky personal past, all of which are trapped together in a confined space while a seemingly endless mob of extras in halfway decent Halloween costumes shamble around outside, waiting to pick off the slow, impatient, and unlucky over the next 45 minutes or so. It’s like some big metaphor for the war itself, or humanity itself, or the 1600 or so living dead movies that came before it themselves. Will Abe be able to bring these opposing factions of uninfected together before their so-called “moralities” lead them all to losing their own heads, figuratively at first, then literally afterward? Will you care enough to find out? If nothing else, I suggest firing it up on Netflix and fast-forwarding to the last 10 minutes. That way you can get the whimsical ending and avoid all of the stupid shit the self-proclaimed “writers” culled from a junior high American History textbook to denigrate into goofy characters and bastardized action movie one-liners.
Being an Asylum secretion, watching ALvZ is like juggling a half-dozen water balloons full of diarrhea: you know you’re gonna get shit all over you, and the best you can hope for is that none of it’s infected with anything more dangerous than a level 6 gross-out contamination, and that you lose nothing more than a ruined outfit and a bit of self-esteem. The shit balloon bursts all over us with computer generated blood, dismemberment, explosions, and gun flashes (because squibs and blanks aren’t “cost effective”). We also get splattered with a bleached out visual filter to either push the impression that the movie takes place in olden times, or just helps cover up the sloppy CG gore. (Not to be confused with AD Gore, proprietor of satans-sideshow.com, who supplied much of my wardrobe in high school.) Also running down our faces and pooling in our pockets are Asylum’s staples: bad acting (no surprise), bad script (also no surprise), bad audio (I had to watch it with subtitles on so I wouldn’t have to wear out the volume buttons on my remote), bad lighting (to further cover up the bad CG effects), and bad dance-fight choreography of Lincoln jumping around like the world’s oldest action hero (minus Schwarzenegger and Stallone, who’re both older than the secret sex dungeon under the Appomattox courthouse). It’s all silly. Not a fun silly, but a hemorrhoid silly…because it’s uncomfortable… and itchy…and I don’t fucking know! You try writing something even remotely witty while some F-grade movie hacks’ weekend of work farts in your face!
Aside from the ending, the only thing that saves this movie from total damnation in Ammut’s cornhole is Oberst’s oddly decent portrayal of Lincoln. Sure, the goofy scythe-fu stuff can cause aneurisms if viewed for too long without proper protection, and the painful out-of-context historical quotes turned one-liners could lacerate kidneys, and if you close your eyes you’d swear Admiral Benson was about to tell you about how he lost his eyes to a bazooka round at Little Big Horn (or was it Okinawa?), but when Oberst actually gets to make inspirational speeches like the Great Emancipator was known for, he’s pretty damn effective. Not exactly Bill Pullman’s speech from Independence Day, or Raymond Burr’s ending soliloquy from Godzilla 1985, but if Billy O can bring even a sliver of credence to a shit cauldron like Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies, then the dude deserves his Daytime Emmy Award…though that’s like winning a gold medal at the Special Olympics, so don’t put too much credence in my use of the word “credence”.
By the way, if the amount of fecal and/or toilet allusions in this review seem like a bit much to you, you should really stop expecting better of me. When dealing with an Asylum production, a reviewer becomes the sewage treatment plant worker of the movie criticism field – knee deep in waste matter for the length of the effort. It’s a minor miracle if we can keep from killing ourselves after the first few times on the job, let alone just swearing off them for life. Reviewers of Asylum movies are like Ed Norton (the character, not the actor), except our best friends aren’t spousal abusers (hopefully) and we lack the televised medium to benefit from slapstickery and goofy voices, so we’re stuck relying on whatever creative writing we can muster. Forgive me if the majority of creative metaphors I can come up with are shit related, but once you’ve got an Asylum feature’s stench saturating your every pore and follicle, it’s hard to think of much else. I need a heavy dose of anti-venom (viewings of Re-Animator or Return of the Living Dead usually do the trick) just to keep me out of a coma.
That said (with about 50 more words than needed), it’s all the more upsetting that our next episode will be ANOTHER Asylum feature! Has my cinemasochism reached new, dangerous heights from which no sane man or man-dog deity can possibly return unscathed?! Gird your loins and girdle your lions (if you have any) and tune in for what’s bound to be another 5 pages of furious/flaccid shit slinging! Same Anubis time, same Anubis channel! *ONOMATOPOEIA!*
Moral of the Story: The Confederate flag is no longer the most offensive hold over from the American Civil War.
I see the guy responsible for the title graphics hasn’t figured how “stroke” or “highlight” works on text layers. At least make the blood a lighter tone than the damn words!
Kids, if your father looks like this every time he tries to shave, do NOT let him teach you how when you hit puberty.
You know The Asylum’s hit big money time when they can afford enough Miller High Life to pay that many Civil War reenactment actors.
“You might wanna pull it back a little on the buttons, soldier. You’re not Steve Harvey.”
“I’m sorry Mr. President. I understand that you want to bring an end to this war, but I’m Santa Claus! I can’t withhold presents from the good Confederate children on Christmas just because you think it will stop the bloodshed!”
“Hey Jackson, what do you call a thousand coloreds at the bottom of the ocean?”
“If you finish that statement, I will kill you now and seduce your wife at your funeral.”
“… Sorry. I didn’t know you were so ‘politically correct’.”
Lincoln’s got his “serious business” stovepipe on. If this were a Robert Rodriguez movie, that thing would be full of pistols and dynamite.
Dear Isis, no! They killed Chris Elliot! Now we’ll never get another season of “Eagleheart“! You bastards!
The Asylum’s poor spending of the lighting budget to buy more zombie makeup ends up working in our favor by obscuring EVERYTHING. If only all of their movies could be shot by lantern light!
“You may be a high ranking General, but I’m the fucking president! NO ONE gets to have a bigger beard than mine, damn it! Shave it off, or I’ll rip it from your god damned jaw myself!”
Is he doing his Edward G. Robinson impression, or is he trying to eat an entire sandwich in one mouthful? History may never know.
“I’m no doctor, ladies, but I think the best thing to stop my bleeding wound would be to plug it with your ample boobs. Boob fat is very malleable and would mold to the shape of the wound. But… you know… if you want me to just bleed to death on your floor, I guess you don’t have to.”
“And what’s the deal with this Mason-Dixon Line anyway? I mean, who are these people?! Am I right?! Thank you, you’ve been a terrible audience. Remember to tip your waitress.”
They’re trying not to look at his dollar store mustache, otherwise they’ll laugh and the producers will make them pay for the re-shoot.
I’m no lumberjack, Beard-O, but I’m pretty sure that’s not how you hold a hatchet…
Michael Cera’s creepy dad scrapes a booger from a sleeping woman’s face.
Anubis will return next time in
“The Sixty Dollar Man”
Bill “Krampus the Christmas Devil” Oberst Jr. , Jason “Gut” Vail , Baby “Just Go 4 It” Norman
or “Santa Claus is Coming to KILL!”
Featuring: Onni Tommila , Jorma Tommila , Tommi Korpela
Director: Jalmari Helander
Writers: Jalmari Helander , Juuso Helander , Petri Jokiranta , Sami Parkkinen
Also Known As: Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
“It’s Christmas time, so let’s act like it!”
Man, this holiday shit it exhausting. It took me 3 hours to program our singing Abdul Alhazred on the front lawn, I had to go to 4 different occult shops to find the proper spices for purifying our Cthulhumas ham, I had to dig through the mountains of boxes (of madness) to find our Necronomicon in the pocket dimension we use for storing our seasonal crap, and I fell straight on my hairy ebon ass while hanging the cephalopods over every doorway in the Tomb. And I still need to go out and get fresh entrails and strings of eyeballs for the Cthulhumas Tribute Tree! Times like this I wonder if it’s even worth praying to Cthulhu for another year of existence. Blart. Oh well. Nothing gets me back into the Cthulhumas mood like a holiday horror show, so let’s pop in Rare Exports and find out how to the Fins celebrate!
Based on the original 8 minute short Rare Exports Inc., about a trio of hunters tracking and capturing Santa Claus, director Jalmari Helander and his co-writer/brother Juuso multiply their interesting idea by The Gingerbread Principle, subtract the square root of egg nog, and bring everything to a rolling boil before letting simmer for 84 minutes, then serving hot as a full feature. Contains 100% of your daily allowance of peppermint schnaaps per serving – 7 servings per container. Serves 4 drunken dinner guests and 1 partridge with or without pear tree… wow, that turned into a mess almost immediately. Kids, never try to write stream-of-consciousness style when it’s 3am and half your consciousness went to bed without you an hour earlier. Rapid winter thaws can lead to flash flooding in low lying areas and those streams of consciousness can become white water rapids on the river to mental breakdown… what the duck am I even saying now?! Santa’s punishing me with a stocking full of writer’s block this year and trying to break the wall down is just leaving me with broken toes and fingers. Speaking of punishments doled out by twisted old sadists in red suits…
The American version of Santa is a very sterilized, Coca-Cola selling, holly-jolly grandpa polished up by marketing execs to sell, well, EVERYTHING in end-of-the-year consumer frenzies of greed and guilt, oiled with the tears of whining children and the seething resentment of grown ass adults whose inner child never grew out of their “gimme gimme gimme” phase. Our Santa is the marketing Viagra that would give Don Draper a boner big enough to fuck all of Madison Avenue long into the holiday twinkle of Christmas morning’s first light. But, as we learned last time on “Hangin’ with Mr. Anubis” during my review for Saint Nick, Father Christmas’s origins are of a much harder to market darker blend of torture, abuse, and punishment that would sell better in a sex dungeon than a Macy’s window.
When young Finnish child hero-to-be Pietari (whose name makes me picture a mass produced pie dessert-combination-gaming system produced by deceased video game manufacturers Atari) delves into the old myths of Santa Claus, he finds lots of disturbing tales of vicious old men and demons who would whip the flesh off of bad kids’ asses with switches, boil them in scalding cauldrons, or just chow down on the kiddies and grind their bones into bloody pulp between their jagged fangs before swallowing them whole. As noted in our previous episode, I much prefer the threatening coal-eyed penance monster that was to the rosy-cheeked philanthropic jelly belly that is, but that just means I’m probably better off remaining not-a-parent… though, if a pack of kids with jackal heads comes by here with bills for unpaid child support, you’ve been living here by yourself for over a year and you’ve never heard of me… or the landlord told you that I died in a fire and that’s how the space became available… either or.
As for why Pietari (I’m just gonna refer to him as “Peter” from here on out, otherwise video game consoles with flaky crusts and real fruit filling are going to haunt my attention span for the rest of this review) has such an interest in educating himself on Mr. Claus, it’s not so he can pursue an at-home degree in Santanomics from the University of Phoenix. See, Pete and his buddy Juuso had recently snuck out to an American excavation site in the nearby Korvanturi Mountains to see what all the noise was about. Eavesdropping at the most opportune of times to listen in for plot points, the lads overhead the project’s eccentric industrialist financier (who looks like Ebeneezer Scrooge by way of Dr. Caligari) excitedly proclaim his theory that Korvanturi isn’t a natural rock formation, but the world’s biggest burial mound for the ancient evil known as… Santa Claus.
Yep, according to local legend the man in red wasn’t just a punisher of misbehaved boys and girls, but a beast of unholy proportions who tormented the countryside, casting a very long shadow of terror and misery with him wherever he went. No longer willing to suffer the barbs of this barbaric vindicator of etiquette and morality, the people lured him out onto a lake where he fell through a trap in the ice, sank to the bottom, and was frozen in a massive block of frozen sin… not unlike Encino Man, buuuuuuuddy! I better watch out, or Santa’s gonna be beating my ass bloody after a few more of those.
Come summertime, after the rest of the land had thawed, the villagers gathered their freezer burned oppressor, encased him in sawdust, dirt, and stones, and left him to his tomb for thousands of years as the rest of Korvanturi formed around him. Now, this rich weirdo (who leaves his workers with explicit instructions to do “good” things like wash behind their ears for the rest of the excavation) has finally found Kringle’s Tomb and fully intends on exhuming the immortal man beast for… reasons never fully explained, really. I mean, maybe he’s gonna sell the remains to a museum? Clone Santa and ruin the fantasies of children the world over with villainous reality? Bring discipline back to the modern age and hopefully fear-beat the lazy selfish shit kids of today into the strong-backed leaders of tomorrow? Or maybe he just gets off to BDSM and plans to jerk himself into a blissful oblivion once the global spanking holocaust hits its frenzied pitch. No idea. Whatever the case, the old guy wants to dig up St. Nick. Just go with it.
Upon learning this, Pete and Juuso return home, having the all important “Santa talk” as Juuso is a few years older than Pete and has already learned the secret to killing your childhood. Pete doesn’t believe that Santa’s just some made up treat for children (and a seasonal mall job for unemployed alcoholics and child molesters), so he does the aforementioned research. What he lacks in internet access though he makes up for with an impressive library of books his dad happens to have on such topics (weird, right?), and our pint-sized protagonist learns the horrible truth about the child boiling cannibal known as Claus. Living now in abject terror every night that the figgy pudding loving fiend from Hell is not only back, but stalking the lad while he sleeps, Peter’s concerns are cast aside by his pissy dad Rauno, who hates that his son still has an imagination at the ripe of old age of… I don’t know… 8?
Whether she died or just left them, one way or the other Pete’s mom is not in the picture. In fact, NO females are in the picture oddly enough, as this is an all male cast. Anyway, this lack of a baby momma makes Rauno one of those overly stressed single dad types who needs to not only raise the boy to be tough and manly like himself, but also needs to keep the lights on, the toilet flowing, and their plates filled with gingerbread on little more than the money he makes as a freelance butcher. With the year’s reindeer herd ripe for capture though, Rauno and his fellow deer hunters (“Di-di Mao! Di-di Mao!”) plan to make a killing of the literal AND figurative kind with an $85,000 haul just in time for the holidays!
Man, I used to think those midgets who dress as elves and pass out jewelry store flyers had the most depressing thing you could possibly do for a paycheck at Christmas time, but I gotta say, “Rudolph butcher” may just be the new number one. Yikes… Well, unless you’re talking about butchering Rudolph Giuliani or Eric Rudolph, in which case, thanks for putting the “penis” into “happenis”!… What do you mean there’s no “penis” in “happenis”? I’m sorry, you’ve obvious never enjoyed a penis before and still spell it “happiness”. Get with the times, grandpa… unless you’re an actual grandpa, in which case you probably haven’t enjoyed your penis for years, and are exempt from this spelling revision.
Rauno and his hunting buddies end up getting a rude awakening upside their faces this year, when the massive herd they pegged their entire season’s income on ends up being a pair of malnourished bucks. Investigating the matter uncovers hundreds of slaughtered carcasses full of rotting meat that they blame on the Americans and ravenous Russian wolves for reasons that may be Pete and Juuso’s fault, involving wire cutters and a chain link fence around the perimeter of the excavation site. But Pete notices something in the snow amidst the bodies that he opts not to tell anyone else about: human footprints. When the men attempt to storm the Korvanturi work site in demand of restitution for their traumatic financial losses, they find the place an abandoned mess. It’s like something forced the crew to leave in a hurry… [cue the ominous dramatic music]
Christmas Eve soon comes, leading to an incredibly uncomfortable night between Peter and poppa where son basically asks dad repeatedly if he regrets conceiving him while dad awkwardly dodges the obvious “yes”. Convinced that St. Nick will be making off with him in the middle of the night for his part in dad’s financial apocalypse, Petey wishes Rauno what he’s sure is going to be his last “goodnight”, before retiring to bed to await Santa’s inevitable invasion, loaded rifle in his lap, dressed in hockey gear, and nodding off like a Norman Rockwell NRA Christmas card. Awwwwwwww.
Come Christmas morning, Rauno’s illegal wolf pit (just a tiger pit, but for wolves) he keeps in the backyard finds itself occupied by a new tenant. Seems some naked old homeless man with a long white beard picked the wrong place to have a hankerin’ for suspended pig head (the pit’s bait) and ended up impaled on a spike. Not wanting to end up on the wrong side of the law over a manslaughtered transient (I can relate!), Rauno enlists the help of his buddy Vuppe Piiparinen to “dispose” of the body before anyone of note discovers it. But, before they can butcher the geezer like a malnourished calf, they realize that the frostbitten old codger’s still alive!… and might be a zombie!… and he can smell children!… which is a level of creepy unease usually reserved for Catholic priests and those SNL skits about the family who make out with each other. Gross.
The rest of the movie is gonna be up to you to watch. I won’t tell you where it goes, but I will say that there’s a helicopter, high explosives, a bunch of missing kids and stolen radiators, and that odd title will be explained before the end credits roll. I was definitely surprised by the detour that takes place in the final act, and I mean that in the best of ways. Oh, and before it’s all said and done, Peter will grow balls bigger than a Kodiak’s as he joins the very exclusive club of child heroes I wouldn’t rather hit in the face with a brick than watch for five minutes, let alone an entire fucking movie.
If you didn’t figure it out by the 4 heart rating at the top, I liked this movie. I REALLY liked this movie. The story is incredibly original, the special effects are competent, the camera work is great and captures the Finnish countryside beautifully, and the relationship between Peter and Rauno has moments of heartbreak and modest warmth that are probably helped greatly by the fact that the actors playing them are real life father and son.
When I was told that Rare Exports was going to be about a killer zombie Santa, I was expecting something like I’d just seen in Saint Nick. I’m not gonna say my expectations were low as much as I thought I was sitting down to a different movie than what I wound up watching. Which, as stated, was definitely not a bad revelation. This is probably only the third time in my lifetime of movie watching that that’s happened, with the others being Cabin Fever and The Item, both of which I was expecting to be cookie cutter horror crap with way less to offer than they actually delivered. It’s like calling Pizza Hut and telling them “surprise me” on the toppings. I figured they’d just send me something with pepperoni, but instead a stuffed crust with ham and pineapple shows up at my door delivered by Aubrey Plaza wearing nothing but a smile and a wink.
Thanks for smiling and winking at me, Jalmari and Juuso Helander. I look forward to giving your first American movie, Big Game (starring Samuel L. Jackson!), a viewing when it releases next year to see if your lightning can strike twice. I hope it turns out to be a success, if not a full-on career maker, Sirs.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, my singing Alhazred has apparently eaten the head off of one of our neighbors and his wife is currently banging on my front door and threatening to call the constabulary. The crematorium takes a few minutes to heat up in these winter temps, so I better go fire it up now. Looks like my human sacrifices to Cthulhu will have to be a few days early this year…
The Moral of the Story: Even when you think you’ve seen everything, you haven’t seen everything.
That’s mandatory for any tourists visiting Utah.
He looks like the type of guy who spends every Christmas being visited by three ghosts.
“The hills are alive, with the rage of Santaaaaa!”
“What the hell’s that old man up there on about?”
Yeah, he’s making child chowder. Why? Did you think Santa ate nothing but cookies and milk all year long?!
It’s a Very David Lynch Christmas!
“Here. Fox News said that if I don’t send you to school with one of these, there’s a 200% chance someone else will shoot you dead.”
Sarah Palin and her helicopter strike again.
The people who brought the Alien Autopsy hoax video bring you a new kind of Christmas special…
Now it’s a Very Quentin Tarantino Christmas!
Looks like Scrooge there stepped in some reindeer’s yule log.
Years of exposure to Rudolph’s irradiated nose have left Santa with severe cataracts… and heat vision!
Happy Stork Adoption Services: delivering your children the old fashioned way!
“Sure! ‘Volunteer your time at the men’s shelter’ they said! ‘It’ll be a rewarding experience’ they said! ‘Re-discover the true meaning of Christmas’ they said! Well next time I’ll just say ‘FUCK YOU! YOU DO IT!’.”
This Christmas it’s ABC Family’s Cavalcade of Christmas Movie Originals! It all starts at noon with Babe 3: Babe’s Christmas Dinner!
Then, at 2, it’s Herbie the Developmentally Challenged Elf That Made Christmas An Awkward, Complicated Event for Everyone Around Him!
Following at 4, it’s a very wiseguys holiday when Santa whacks the Grinch! Ray Liotta stars in Henry Hill’s “A Christmas Carol”!
Finally, at 6, it’s the world television premiere of Kid Rock in Trailer Park Santa, Motherf*ckers! Suck My D*ck, Obama!
So join us at The Hallmark Channel, where this holiday season we’re putting the “Christ, what the fuck is this garbage?!” back into Christmas! 😀
Anubis will return next time in
“Let’s Scare Megyn Kelly to Death!”