Feature 90 – The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again (2016)

or “Even Smiling Makes My Face Ache”

Featuring: Laverne “‘Orange is the New Black’” Cox , Ryan “‘Liv and Maddie’” McCartan , Victoria “‘Victorious’” Justice

Director: Kenny “Hocus Pocus” Ortega

Based on the screenplay by: Richard “I’m not involved with this remake in any way” O’Brien & Jim “No comment I could find online, but I’m pretty sure he’s also distanced himself from it” Sharman

Origin: USA

Remake/Rebranding of: The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Review_____

“Lost in time and lost in space… and meaning.”

It’s that time of year again, you turkeys! Let’s Do the Time Warp Again was meant to be an October review, but when I saw just how horrible it was, I thought it more appropriate to not denigrate the sacred month of 8 and instead lump it in with Turkey Day Month 2016. Read on and I’ll think you’ll agree. Won’t you?

This was originally supposed to be a capsule review for The Tomb’s Facebook page, but I had so much bitching to do by the midpoint of this abominable TV ghost of cult movies past that I felt it needed the full episode treatment. Also, I’m almost completely sure that there’s no way for me to jam pics and gifs into Facebook reviews, and they really needed to be a part of this to help properly illustrate my loathing. As such, let’s check out The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again, shall we?

Also, the doors are all locked and their knobs have been replaced with used dildos amassed from the dumpster behind the local retirement home, so just sit the fuck down and share my suffering.

When I heard about Fox’s intentions to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Richard O’Brien’s golden child with this made-for-TV remake, I got the typical “Pavlov’s dog” response to remakes that most of us over the age of 30 are stabbed in the kidneys with at least three times a year anymore. Unlike the original brainwashed canine, though, we don’t drool uncontrollably. Instead, we vomit vitriol and disappointment out of both ends, taking breaks to ingest large reserves of blue PowerAde into our systems to stem dangerous dehydration. We ultimately end up with acid burned throats and burning red sphincters glowing from magmatic agony while some cunts in Hollywood dream of rubbing stacks of stupid peoples’ money on their genitals. All of the online petitions, cries of protest and message board threats of sexual assault result in nothing changing, and we all just end up dying a little inside knowing that something we love has been weighed down with an anchor of garbage, then tossed into the murky depths of the “Nobody Cares! Get Over It!” sea.

But sometimes, if you keep the faith, say your prayers, and sacrifice just enough of your personal stockpile of pessimism, you will be rewarded. The whore mongers you accused of raping your inner child turn out to be fellow followers of your familiar fandom, and do right by your shared affection – not tarnishing its name, but instead adding to its legacy! Whole new generations learn to respect and revere these franchises, lifting them to new heights, sharing them with the world, spreading their gospel! Yes, sometimes you corporate mainstream meddlers in your ivory towers can cast off the scarred branding of “defilers”, bring pride to your executive producer credits…

…Hahahahahahahahahahahaha! Yeah, and then the drugs wore off! Sure, there’s the occasional worthwhile redo out there (The Hills Have Eyes and Evil Dead, anyone?), but the turds tend to outweigh the treasures by 100 to 1. Guess which side of said ratio Fox’s Rocky Horror remake stakes its claim? Here’s a hint: much like a thrice expired jar of Ortega salsa once tormented me with the drizzling shits, so now has Kenny Ortega done to an entire television viewing audience. All we wanted was NOT to have another beloved movie ruined with a remake.

“But Anubis, Kenny Ortega also gave us Hocus Pocus and Newsies! How could his version of Rocky Horror be that bad!?” First of all, didn’t I fit you with a ball gag when you came in!? Secondly, allow me to send up a surface-to-air missile to bring your Happy Hands down in flames – Kenny Ortega’s also the guy behind the High School Musical trilogy. The higher your hopes get, the harder I will make them fall…at least until the point of terminal velocity. Once they hit that, I mean, that’s as hard as they can fall, whatever the height. Either way, FUCK YOUR HOPES! MWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!

Anyway, by now we should be intimately familiar with the misadventures of Brad Majors and Janet Weiss, so let’s not dawdle with the details. And if you don’t know the story already, a hearty Conan the Schwarzenegger “To HEL wit’choo!”. Seriously though, for you neophytes out there (or those of you in need of a refresher), you can pop out your peepers and observe Episode 64 for my review of last year’s “Rocky Horror Show Live!” BBC special to get caught up. The rest of you? In the interest of keeping it short like Tyrian Lannister after a trip through The Tall Man’s midgetizing tanks, let’s try something new and make this a simple pass/fail review! Onward and upward, you sons and daughters of Oblivion!

► For starters, showing your RHPS remake at 8PM? Weak. Its cult status is that of a midnight movie, so shoehorning it into a prime time slot? You’re already starting off on the wrong foot with the fans, Fox. FAIL.

► The “Science Fiction/Double Feature” intro is now sung by a generic “white girl with a deep voice” usherette cast away from Hot Topic, played by Ivy Levan. I know nothing of her work or if anyone else even knows who she is, but she feels very much like a poor man’s Christina Aguilera/Lady Gaga/Adele/Amy Winehouse. I dislike her “try to make it ‘soulful’ like an ‘American Idol’ contestant singing the National Anthem” cover. FAIL. And I’m not saying this to be mean, Ivy, but I’ve got two words for ya: Crest Whitestrips.

► The entire segment in general? When compared to the original “Patricia Quinn’s disembodied mouth lip syncing Richard O’Brien’s singing” opening credits? No. And allow me to get this out of the way now for anyone who’s gonna try to call me out about how this remake is supposed to be different: if you don’t want comparisons to the original, DON’T DO A FUCKING REMAKE! FAIL.

► On its own merits though, this beginning makes for a fair music video style intro to the show, so I’ll also throw it a PASS. And don’t say I can’t do that. You don’t come into my house (or tomb, in this case) and start diddling my thermostat. At least not if you want to keep your fingers on your hands and not poking out of Ammut’s litter box.

► Presenting your made-for-TV remake as if it were being shown at an RHPS midnight theatrical show, complete with audience participation? The more you remind me of how much I’d rather be watching the original is not going to work in your favor, Fox. Pretending your version is cool because it’s framed with meta humor is lame. And not “so lame it’s cool”, Marge, so don’t even start. No, it’s lame like Christy Brown without all the artistic talent. Stop it. FAIL.

► Wait, so the actors are all emulating the original’s cast through hammy acting and overzealous mannerisms? Oh boy. I can’t imagine this sitting well with the teenagers this is being aimed at, who probably don’t know it’s supposed to be campy. Kinda torn on this one, since I hate camp for camp’s sake, but it’s sticking faithful to the tone so… Fuck it. PASS.

► Well, Ryan McCartan’s Brad is definitely the ideal of all-American young male doofiness. Meanwhile, Victoria Justice’s Janet has the “starry-eyed girl next door” thing down, though I do miss Susan Sarandon’s adorable bug-eyes. PASS.

► The Hapschatts’ marriage mobile’s “Wait ‘Til Tonite, She Got Hers Now He’ll Get His” shaving cream graffiti replaced by “She Said I Do, Now I’m Doing” instead. “Now I’m Doing”?! Is that even English? No. Whomsoever is responsible for that, get “doing” with a live light socket. FAIL.

► Post stroke Tim Curry putting in a cameo as The Criminologist? Smells like a poor attempt at Fox trying to convince the fanbase that this was a good idea. FAIL.

► Sadly, it’s not like Curry’s getting roles thrown at him today what with his current state, so at least he got a paycheck out of this. That part gets a pity PASS.

► Janet’s joke of “The owner of that phone might be a beautiful woman and you may never come back again.” is too on the nose now, given Frank’s re-casting/re-assignment. FAIL.

► Reeve Carney, you put way too much spirit into your Riff-Raff. He’s supposed to be menacing and broken, not starring in a production of “Rock of Ages”. I’d tell you to go back to playing Peter Parker in “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark”, but, well, we all know what happened with that… Also, where’s your bald cap!? And your hunch?! And your accent sucks. And your twangy country western lite rendition of “The Time Warp” makes me want to fill my ears with flesh-eating scarabs. Cease and desist. FAIL.

► Same goes for your Magenta, Christina Milian. You’re supposed to be depraved and imposing, not just some prancing tart in a sparkling maid outfit and hot pink fright wig. Your accent also sucks. A lot. Homosexual rest stop vampire Count Gaylord would take a break from his Saturday night slurp circle to tell you its suckitude is “a little much”. FAIL.

► One of the things Fox has been raked over the coals for on RHPSLDtTWA! is neutering it by turning the risque level down to a ‘3’. Despite this, the singers during the “Time Warp” scene are performing from between the wooden cut-out of a pair of 10′ tall legs positioned to look like they’re a woman on her back. So for all intents and purposes, this trio is supposed to appear to be singing while ankles deep in a giantess’s lapple pie…I don’t even…what…the fuck…am I looking at?! Either way, the dancers in this “toned down” version are all dry humping the shit out of each other for 10 minutes, so I guess it was just the “gay stuff” that Fox felt the need to back off on? FAIL.

► The Transylvanians all get their own unique costumes?! They’re supposed to be background fodder, not an attention grabbing orgy of extras in gaudy silver crotch-hugger outfits hopped up on Spanish Fly grinding against each other in a desperate display of “Look at me! I’m important too! Look at me!”. This smells like the meddling of a bunch of bit parters’ agents…who are probably also their parents. Fucking show biz parents. FAIL.

► Annaleigh Ashford’s Columbia is just heyday Cyndi Lauper with “I sucked off Papa Smurf” blue raspberry Blow Pop tongue? Riff Raff plays an electric guitar with a neon blue light-up neck? Fuck’s sake, Ortega, did your Wayback Machine run out of batteries when you re-imagined this!? RHPS was from nineteen SEVENTY-five, not nineteen EIGHTY-five! GAH! I feel like there should’ve been a part to go with this half-assed ’80s vibe where Brad refers to something as being “Bradical!”, because if you’re going to fuck the audience, you might as well go balls deep. FAIL.

► P.S. – Ashford’s “non-acting acting” is nails on a gods damned chalkboard. I’ll take Little Nell’s proto-Harley Quinn with the cracking, squeaky voice 10 times out of 10 over this deadpan Darlene Connor knock-off bullshtick. My heart (and my legs) are always open to sarcastic doom-and-gloom nihilist types, but not Columbia, damn it! FAIL.

► Rather than meeting Frank as our protagonists originally did, coming down in his little elevator to the anticipatory build of both the heroes and the audience, the modern incarnation instead sees her descending onto the set aboard a massive camera crane in some weird Mayan showgirl outfit. Though I can appreciate the spectacle, that’s all it is – a spectacle. The headdress is appealingly garish, but also more sizzle than steak. One of the story’s biggest moments burned to the ground. If gravitas were gravity, this version of the host’s introduction would be taking place on the moon. All-in-all, a big floating FAIL.

► It’s sad too, because Laverne Cox (what an ironic name…) puts on a fairly fair Frank impression. Unfortunately, as I’ve been griping about to my fellow Frankie Fans, this casting puts a silver bullet through the heart of the entire show. Put your PC sticks away too, because I have zero issue with a black person playing Frank and zero issue with a transgender person playing Frank. As long as they can play the role justice, it would be mathematically impossible for me to care less about skin color or background. And if you wanted to hire a transitioned male person to play Frank, that would be great too! But no, Frank being played by a woman ruins the point of his seduction of Brad and his attempts at forcing a hetero man-child of his own creation to be gay rather than Rocky instead dipping his hot dog in Janet’s mustard. And don’t give me the “Well, Laverne used to be a man!” argument either, because it holds water as well as Joel Robinson’s Wiffle cup. Who Laverne was has no bearing on who she is while playing the role in this movie. Championing her as a former man is like carting her around as a sideshow attraction. She’s a woman now, and a woman playing Frank goes against the point of Frank. FAIL.

► But, again, Cox plays the role pretty well compared to how much the rest of the cast fail their parts. Too bad she couldn’t have taken the role prior to transitioning. Despite my dislike of the casting, and her not putting enough of a bite into some of her delivery (her flaccid read of “I didn’t make him FOR YOU!” is especially disappointing), her performance gets a PASS.

► Damn it, Ortega! You fucked up the close-up shots during “Sweet Transvestite”! How fucking hard is it to do a couple of quick cuts rather than just setting the camera behind B & J and hitting “REC” while you take a piss break? FAIL.

► Staz Nair looks the part of Rocky as far as physiques go (though his frosted tips will give people Backstreet flashbacks), but turning his gold bodybuilder briefs into golden basketball shorts (that look like they’re made of a spray-painted elephant scrotum) just furthers Fox’s flaccid homophobic approach to this remake. Have I mentioned that it’s an abomination? If I haven’t, make a note of it. FAIL.

► Adam Lambert’s Eddie comes Evel Knieveling through a window (rather than out of Frank’s meat locker…not to be confused with her meat curtains…though that would’ve been an interesting twist), looking like some kind of lupine biker that shames anything in Werewolves on Wheels. He’s Eddie by way of Wolverine after a rough night in a leather bar. It works. PASS.

► But his singing voice lacks the macho boom of a rotund rocker like Meatloaf. A savage disappointment to hear a guy that looks so bruiserly have such a, well, Adam “Glambert” Lambert voice. When he’s mugging for camera during his song, it looks like he’s struggling not to scratch at a bad case of jock itch. FAIL.

► Rather than being pick-axed more times than a gold mine in the 1840s, Eddie ends up stabbed and falls out of a window. Fear not, as the dinner scene still happens later as planned, but this version of Edward’s demise is no prize. Frank’s subtle efforts at shiving the big lug in the guts is no match for psychotic Swiss cheesing given to the original article. FAIL.

► Given the gender swap, Frank’s seduction of the young couple doesn’t have the same impact, especially with how many “bi for the guys” college age girls have saturated pop culture in the last decade plus. Shooting said moments like regular scenes rather than from behind the veil of smutty silhouettes also kills the voyeuristic tone carried by the originals, losing both the style AND the substance in this instance. Blart. It’s a bad miss. FAIL.

► Watching a former Nickelodeon child star in her underwear fooling around with another woman is…not really having an effect on me, since I never watched whatever show it is she was the star of. Besides, after everything we’ve seen out of Miley Cyrus, former child stars doing adult stuff in little-to-no clothing will never carry the same taboo. Not a pass/fail scenario, I just thought I’d point that out.

► Ben Vereen sounds more like Morgan Freeman than Dr. Scott. With this change in character also comes the unfortunate negation of Scottie’s former role as a defected Nazi scientist. Now he’s just “elderly wheelchair man with Einstein hair”. FAIL.

► The dinner scene slips in a new *wink*wink* line for long-termers, as Columbia complains “I hope it’s not meatloaf again.” in regards to the meal’s main course. Cute. I’ll take it. PASS

.

► Additionally, though I hated “too cool to play along” slacker Columbia, as her tragic losses mount, she’s falling into place as the broken girl on the brink of losing what sanity she has left. Good. PASS.

► Kudos to McCartan, whose turn in the floor show as “broken man-baby in ladies lingerie” Brad denotes a man of courage. It’s also probably the moment in the whole movie most loyal to the tone of the original. He gets a PASS.

► Speaking of the floor show, all of the Transylvanians are present in this version. It kills the intimate focus on the main characters having an entire audience. Furthermore, you’ve not got two dozen people in the theater, but nobody does anything to stop Riff when he comes in with his neon guitar laser? They all just disappear during “I’m Going Home”? FAIL.

► The siblings’ new silver outer space glam rock heavy metal outfits are fun at least. PASS.

► While trying to escape with Frank’s corpse, there’s no RKO tower prop for Rocky to scale, so an iconic moment ends up as just another FAIL.

► On the plus side, when Rock dies near Frank, he does so reaching out to her a la Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam” painting, notably featured in the original RHPS‘s “Don’t Dream It, Be It” swimming pool scene. PASS.

► Brad, Janet and Dr. S sell the finale of their nocturnal excursion like they’re stumbling through a nuclear fallout, then just roll up their arm length gloves (well, Brad does) and walk off stage right like everything’s suddenly fine, no selling the fact that an entire castle is launching into the stratosphere not 10 feet to their left. Cool guys don’t look at explosions? FAIL.

For those keeping score, that makes for 11 “PASS”es and 23 “FAIL”s. According to my math (meaning no one can verify it but me, so don’t correct me), in Tomb terms, Let’s Do the Time Warp Again should get a 1.666 out of 5 rating. Traditionally, that would mean it rounds up to a 2, but there’s no way I can award a 2 to this movie. Instead, I’ll add a little personal bias to the data and round down to a 1. After all, reviews are all about the writer’s opinion, and bias is a part of opinion so, again, don’t correct me. Checkmate.When all is said and done (and “doing”?), this is just another remake for the “that didn’t need to happen” pile. It’s a befuddling muddle fuck that tries to be faithful to the original while doing new things, a tightrope it fails to cross and thus falls into the pool of starved crocodiles below. Everybody involved should’ve ignored the movie’s motto of “Don’t dream it, be it.” and just kept their desires for this production in their own nightmares and dreamscapes. For a production that tries in every way to be more over-the-top colorful than its predecessor, the performances are decaf as fuck for the most part. It feels…sterile. Whether it’s Ortega’s head we hang the shame hat on for wanting his cast to act the way they do, or we need to put in an order for a dozen more shame hats to cover the heads of the cast members themselves, somebody has to take responsibility. And when the ambition didn’t feel like it was under the floorboards, it was coming on too strong from actors whose characters are supposed to be restrained!

Have I been changed in any way by my viewing of this remake? Not really. Though I had no idea who Kenny Ortega was (aside from a guy whose name sounds an awful lot like New Japan wrestler Kenny Omega) before, now he’s got a spot on my enemies list. So…there’s that.

For those who enjoyed RHPSLDtTWA (it’s nice to know I’ll never have to type out that acronym again), good for you. I’m not going to tell you you’re wrong. However, if you use the following trains of thought to defend said stance, assume crash positions, because you’re about to be derailed.

► “But shadow casts happen every week all around the world and plenty of them include female Franks! Do you complain about those?!” No. Female Franks are usually done with shadow casts that don’t have enough guys to fill all of the male roles, or by groups where no guy is brave enough to dance around in women’s underwear in front of a crowd. Besides, this is a nationally broadcast remake, not some midnight screening at the Podunk Village Actors Guild Hall.

► “But ‘why did you hate this iteration so much, but not ‘Rocky Horror Live‘?! You just hate young people and things not aimed as you!” False equivalency. That was a live show, based on the musical, not the movie based on the musical, thus it wasn’t supposed to be faithful to the movie. Additionally, it was a production overseen by Richard O’Brien, so when the creator of the entire fucking phenomenon decides he wants to tinker with the formula, he’s more than welcome to! Also, had you actually read my review for the show in question, you’d remember that I wasn’t entirely thrilled with it either.

► “But Frank is an alien! Maybe he/she didn’t have an Earthly sex and you’re just projecting your archaic gender roles! Open your eyes, you Nazi sheep!”. Shut your fucking face, uncle fucker. Did you forget the numerous times Frank was referred to as “him” and “he” by the rest of the cast in the original RHPS? Just in case you did, remake Frank’s referred to numerous times as “her” and “she”, so again, cram it down your suck hole.

And that’s as much as I’m interested in talking about Let’s Do the Time Warp Again. Now that I’ve done my duty, it’s time for me to be doing. What? No fucking clue. Hope you enjoyed your Halloweening indulgences, kids. I also hope you had your younger siblings “test bite” your candy first for safety’s sake. You don’t wanna show up to Thanksgiving with a razor blade smile!

Moral of the Story: If you’re going to do a remake, stick to the source material. If you’re going to do a “re-visioning”, go all the way…and prepare for a hardcore backlash, especially if you fuck it up.

Screenshots_____

There are enough in the bullet-points above. See ya next time, ladles and germs!

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Anubis will return next time in
“Balls of Fury”

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

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

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Feature 26 – Stage Fright (2014)

or “Everybody’s a Critic”

Featuring: Allie “House at the End of the Street” MacDonald , Meat Loaf “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” Aday , Minnie “Grosse Pointe Blank” Driver

Director: Jerome “ABCs of Death 2” Sable

Writers: Jerome “ABCs of Death 2” Sable , Eli Batalion

Origin: Canada

Review_____

“Kylie Swanson slept with so many people on Broadway, they called her ‘The Great White Lay’!”

There was a local legend in my neck of the cosmic woods about a disfigured creature who lived in a dumpster behind the local Taco Bell and attacked random drive-thru customers after dark. It would make off with their orders and escape into the night, consuming the purloined fast food feasts to provide itself with the saturated fats and high sodium its unique biology required for survival. Some said it was a former employee traumatically mutated thusly: an assistant manager (in a direct insult to the gods) offered him two straight Thursdays off with pay if he would consume an unholy brew consisting of one packet of each type of Taco Bell sauce mixed into a 40oz cup of Baja Blast, poured over a half-eaten Beefy 5 Layer Burrito and some Volcano Nachos left behind by a mysterious customer dressed all in black (who paid for his meal with Canadian currency) and microwaved it for 66 seconds at .6 power. The nightmarish brew turned the young register jockey into an abomination that would be dubbed by the hushed whispers of the townies as the Chalupacabra.

As an amateur Cryptozoologist (and in need of money to help fund my proposed Tomb of Anubis book project), I man-jackaled my own solo mission to shackle this horror and put it on display for public entertainment at county fairs and truck pull events. Unfortunately, my investigation did not turn up a gordita thieving freak. No, the so-called Chalupacabra was just a local homeless guy named Pete who had bitten off a drive-thru girl’s pinky finger one night after he’d huffed a whole can of Rust-Oluem. Pete had no mysterious origin, mystical or otherwise, he’d just lost his job when the ChiChi’s next door closed down, and moved into the Taco Bell dumpster rather than take up at a homeless shelter. What the fuck does my story have to do with today’s movie? My very simple, reasonable expectations and the universe’s continued failure to meet them…and my need to make “Chalupcabra” a matter of public record so I can claim copyright on it if Taco Bell ever tries to steal the name from me for use as a new corporate mascot. Which they desperately need, cuz you know that “Yo quiero Taco Bell!” dog died YEARS ago.

News of Stage Fright came to me from my Evil Dead Bride at first under the perception that it would be a remake of the 1987 Italian slasher flick of the same name, also known by its first moniker, Deliria. In anticipation, we sought said cinematic situation, and sat through 2hrs of goofy in a 90min tow away zone. By which I mean it was a bizarre little movie about a stab happy murderer stalking the cast of a corny ’80s rock opera while wearing a big creep-ass owl mask. It’s good old fashioned spaghetti sauce from the “the more dead young people the better” decade. When it finally came time to taste test this new Stage Fright, despite some very loose similarities (a masked killer stalking the cast of an absurd musical), our aforementioned prior perception turned out to be a misconception. Disheartening, given how the original was good for some freaky visuals, slick slaughter, and a few absurd chuckles. Blart.

Oh well, as I always say, expectations are the fault of the expecter. For instance, if you were expecting me not to make up a word like “expecter”, you failed. You get NOTHING! You LOSE! GOOD DAY, SIR! Anyway, in case you too were suffering from the same delusions of campy grandeur as we were, welcome to reality. Pardon the smell. We haven’t been able to find the cause and we’re pretty much hoping it dissipates on its own eventually. Speaking of campy…

Kylie Swanson (Minnie Driver… who gets top fucking billing for TEN MINUTES OF WORK!) was once a lauded stage performer (acting not stripping, thank Set!) on the verge of her big break – starring in a critically acclaimed production of Haunting of the Opera (because Phantom’s probably copyrighted out the ass). Too bad for her that an unidentified guy in the masked Phantom-esque killer’s costume cut her career violently short with a sizable bit of Slash Co. brand stabware, which he demoed for her across her throat and into her mouth! Mamma mia, that’s a spicy piece of stainless steel! Only from Slash Co.!

Ten years after the fatal fall of Kylie (a book title if I’ve ever heard one), her twin children Camilla (Allie MacDonald) and Buddy (Douglas Smith) have reached adulthood under the parentage of Kylie’s then boyfriend and producer Roger McCall (Meat Loaf – that’s exactly how he’s credited on his IMDB page!), who took the kids under his care in the wake of their mother’s gruesome windpipe ventilation reassignment procedure. No longer enjoying the life of a successful producer, Roger’s since tobogganed face first down the icy slope of financial collapse since Kylie’s demise and has invested what little he had left into establishing Center Stage – a summer camp for aspiring child performers (where the twins work in the kitchen). Through Center Stage, Roger hopes to exploit any burgeoning young success stories from which can get himself an AC/DC: back in black…though his dirty deeds done dirt cheap will probably get him thunderstruck on a highway to Hell with his balls to the wall! Wait, that last one was Accept. However, if you want blood, you’ve got it! Sorry, there’s no more blood yet, I was just caught up in the AC/DC thing. I’ve gotta stop listening to music when I write these things.

Back to the beaten path, the underage attendees of this little refugee camp for failed “Glee” hopefuls have a tendency to break into song and prance as if they’d previously rehearsed these spontaneous acts of musical mirth. I thought I was walking into a cheesy slasher romp, but it appears I’ve stumbled into a little too much whimsy and much too little horror. This year’s big camp production is a kabuki (“Bukkake?”) rendition of…can you guess? Go on, give it a shot. Did you figure it out yet? If you guessed anything other than Haunting of the Opera, I’d like you to go back to every teacher you had from grade school to whatever your highest level of education may be, and slap each of them for failing you. If any of them are dead, let me know who and I’ll slap them for you here in the Underworld.

As for that play, the acting and/or singing bug hasn’t just bitten Camilla, it’s crawled up her nose, eaten half of her Medulla Oblongata, and laid eggs in her Fissure of Rolando. Inspired by an autographed 8×10 of her mom (long story, don’t ask), Cammy takes center stage (no pun intended) of our story as she bucks Roger’s rules about only campers being allowed to audition for the shows, and snags herself a chance at the role her mom originated as the female lead! Whose name I forget because who cares. Despite McCall’s misgivings, the show’s assigned director/romantic lead/self-proclaimed artist/biggest douche bag in the state, Artie Getz (Brandon Uranowitz…no, YOU’RE ano…is…witz…shut up!), insists that the fresh faced lass be his leading lady. He did helm their previous summer’s bold musical re-imagining of The Vagina Monologues after all, so he must know what he’s doing…that, and Cam’s the only legal age ass in the camp he hasn’t had on his casting couch yet. Finally given a chance to make her dead momma proud and do something with her life that doesn’t involve Brill-O pads and industrial sized cans of spaghetti sauce (that’s mostly watered down ketchup), Camilla couldn’t be happier and dedicates herself wholly to her new craft. As for brother Buddy, he’s not happy with the arrangement, as it leaves him with twice the workload now while he picks up the proverbial slack left by sister’s absence. Someone else not happy with Cammy’s leading role is Liz Silver (Melanie Leishman), the resident diva of the program who will do whatever she has to to get the spotlight onto her cunty mug instead…including murder? You never know.

Except that I do, because I’ve already seen it, hence this review.

While all of this has been playing out, a manic figure dressed in black has been lurking in a nondescript, poorly lit room at an undisclosed place. I’m not entirely sure he’s even on the campgrounds, to be honest. Our obvious killer-to-be spends his time wailing on his electric guitar and screeching like Sebastian Bach (his rock opera performances will either give you a tongue-in-cheek laugh or a spike-in-the-butt aggravation) as he splatters red paint on the campers’ head shots and slashes at them with his movie murderer tool of choice: a pair of circular saw blades modified with finger hole grips. On The Tomb of Anubis Scale of Bad-Ass Weapons, these mofos fall somewhere between Jason’s saw blade weed whacker in Friday the 13th Part VII (“Very Bad-Ass”) and Ash’s chainsaw hand in Evil Dead 2 (“Legendary Bad-Ass”). They’d be equally excellent either here as a shredder of teenagers, a homemade peacemaker in one of those “Joe Everyman becomes a vigilante” flicks, or some hardcore ninja gear in a Shaw Brothers feature. I think I’ll put in a requisition with Osiris to get a pair of my own for soul reaping during those times when my scythe is in the shop getting its firmware updated.

The night before the big show’s set to open, our phantom flayer finally gets his feet wet (with gore) when he torture kills someone (I won’t tell ya who) on the stage. The next morning, Roger tells the kids that the person’s death was clearly an accident (though I’d love to see the Rube Goldbergian scenario he comes up with to explain the kid’s multi-step mutilation) and convinces them that the show must go on… through the use of another rousing musical number! And so, the play goes off without a hitch, Roger gets back into the big leagues of Broadway productions, Camilla is rocketed to immediate stardom, and she and Buddy open their hugely successful restaurant together. Everybody lives happily ever after. Don’t believe me? Good. You’re learning. What really happens? I’ll tell you this much – nothing goes right, people die, and Liszt’s “Hungarian Rhampsody Numero Dos” gets a comedy scene that overstays its welcome. But then, any rendition that isn’t the piano duel between Daffy and Donald at the Ink and Paint Club is bound to fall short.

Is the killer Joel (Kent Nolan), the stalker-lite lighting guy who looks like that Mexican werewolf kid from the Twatlight movies and has an obvious boner for Cammy? Could it be the creepy all-too-obvious-red herring janitor who’s always skulking around looking all-too-obviously-suspicious? Maybe it’s Buddy, trying to end his sister’s career before it can begin so as not to interfere with his dreams of the duo opening a restaurant together one day? But, what aboot Liz? I mean, once she lost the leading lady role, why not ruin the show for everybody? Then again, this could all be connected to whoever it was that gave Kylie the butcher knife taste test, back to make sure Roger’s amputated career never gets the chance to grow back. Speaking of, it could be Roger behind the mask! I mean, the killer’s not fat enough and hits notes too high and screechy to be Roger, and it would make no sense for Rog to sabotage (my new alias – Rog Sabotage) the production he hopes will put him back on top of the Broadway scene, but I learned long ago to stop giving movies the benefit of the doubt.

So, how do you solve a problem like Maria? Errr, by which I mean, how do you sum up a movie like Stage Fright? Well, if High School Musical and Sleepaway Camp had a Bartles & Jaymes regret-together one summer night, Stage Fright would be their Valentine’s Day partial birth abortion. Ever see Camp Blood: the Musical? Watch that instead. Less production value, but at least it doesn’t let you down when it comes to over-the-top summer camp killing with a dash of Gilbert & Sullivan. Stage Fright hints at the campiness of a Troma movie, but never goes so far as shooting ping pong balls out of its hot pocket. In fact, it ends its act and walks off stage without even taking off its top. I know not to expect a Troma production if there’s no Troma logo on the box, but I feel certain envelopes should’ve been pushed further than they were. This barely-R rated feature could’ve been bumped up to a soft NC-17 and nabbed a few more fun points for such absurdity in the process.

Some of the tunes are pretty catchy though (the end credits being the best), the gore (of what’s there) is pretty slick, I like the Kabuki theme of the slasher’s getup, the comedy works most of the time (the epilogue is an amusing *wink*wink* to slasher movie fans), and the acting’s actually pretty solid. Allie MacDonald? Young lady’s got chops. She does the shy/traumatized girl thing REALLY well and could get tears from a glass eye. The lass has got a set of pipes on her to be proud of too! I don’t go in for younger chicks as a general rule, but I think she’s talented enough that I’d make the exception. Besides, she’s applicable under the “half your age plus 7” rule with a few digits to spare, and this pic of her in a Black Flag shirt just seals the deal.

AllieBF

Now, If you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go pump some custard in her honor. As André Benjamin said, become the master of your own bation – the future is in your hand. I’m out like a boner in boxers! Later, gators!

Moral of the Story: Even if you find a place where you can feel safe and happy with like-minded people who support and appreciate you, there’s ALWAYS gonna be some crazy person in a mask waiting to kill you.

Screenshots_____

I appreciate the filmmakers’ dedication to the truth here. It always bothered me that John McNaughton didn’t have the balls to keep the real life break dancing segments in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.


Billy and Sarah have the misfortune of attending one of the “Sesame Street” tapings where the actor playing Big Bird shows up drunk… and without any pants.


Minnie Driver tried one of those do-it-yourself plastic surgery kits to shave a few inches off of her jawbone. Kids? Leave medical procedures to the professionals.


I know that look – she wasn’t paying attention to her calender and woke up REALLY wishing she’d put in a tampon before bed… looks like someone’s getting a new mattress!


Good thing there’s a summer camp specifically for kids like this. It’s the only way most of them will ever get the chance to lose their virginity.


I asked a First Nations representative which aboriginal spirit this totem represents, and he told me to give back his land or get the fuck out. I tried offering him some beads and trinkets, but he just had security stuff my pants full of arrowheads, wrap me in a smallpox infected blanket, and roll me down a steep hill!


An recently uncovered production still from Ed Wood’s long lost film adaptation of Phantom of the Opera!


If that guy doesn’t have a work glove with razor blades on the fingertips, a rusty pitchfork, and several rolls of duct tape in the trunk of his car, I’ll be very surprised.


This may look odd to some, but he was hired to perform a puppet show at Lucille Bluth’s birthday party. I’m afraid I just blue myself… NO TOUCHING! TV SHOW QUOTES!


Okay, these Texas Chainsaw Massacre prequels are going a little too far back into Leatherface’s history now.


I feel like this was a concept originally done in one of those sticker trading card sets from the ’90s about parody products of known brand names. Like the ones in this link.


Meat Loaf is Chris Farley in Tommy Boy 2: No, Not Black Sheep. Not since Blues Brothers 2000 has a beloved comedian’s legacy been so completely shit upon!


“I’ll need my assistant’s help with my next trick, which I call, “The Reverse Uncle Fester”!


Pro-tip: you might wanna use a mirror when you put on your eyeshadow.


You kids these days with your pierced I-don’t-know-whats! Unless you’re the Bionic Woman, you shouldn’t have more metal in your head than bone! You go take those things out this minute, young lady, and you let those holes heal shut!


I don’t know what she needs with a lantern when she’s got a perfectly good pair of headlights! SHAZAM!

Anubis will return next time in
“Children of a Lesser Godzilla”

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