Episode 100 – The Fall of the Louse of Usher (2002)

or “Love. Love Will Tear Us Apart Again”

Featuring: James “Black Milk” Johnston , Eliza “Boudica Bites Back” Russell , Marie Findley

Writer & Director: Ken “Tommy” Russell

Also Known As: The Fall of the Louse of Usher: a Gothic Tale for the 21st Century ; Ken Russell’s The Fall of the Louse of Usher

Origin: UK

Review_____

“Even if you come in here sane, no way you’re gonna get out of here anything but crazy!”

Guten tag, schmutz-kinder! Today marks the annual event known to wrestling fans as Wrestlemania. On a larf, I thought it would be fun to do a roundtable of reviews for Ken Russell movies. What does Ken Russell have to do with professional wrestling? Nothing. At least not that I know of. No, the theme for this gathering exists for no other reason than because it lends itself to the ‘table’s puntacular title!

Yep. That's the kinda shit I do. And thanks to my fellow cinemasochists for taking this journey with me! Though never a big Ken Russell fan, I have seen a few of his better known flicks. I thought Altered States was a fun acid trip through pseudo scientific madness, Tommy was an enjoyably dark and unique musical experience, and Lair of the White Worm is still one of my favorite flicks to come out of the UK and the definite catalyst for my bizarre attraction to serpentine women who want to eat me alive. Despite the creep-ass little goblin from the cover of the Gothic VHS being burned into my memory from childhood, I never got around to renting it. From what Ragnarok has to say in his review, it sounds like I didn’t miss much. Too bad that copy of The Devils I sent him was rerouted back to me via USPS, otherwise he could’ve reviewed that instead. Stupid lack of proper postage!

Before I get started, I’m throwing out the disclaimer that this review is going to be a rush job, so apologies if it lacks the polish (or Polish) of other episodes. I’ve been entangled on the battlefield of the mind in a war with the Overfiend for possession of my soul and just recently managed to lock the beast away in the Crystal of Zoloft, putting me at odds with my own predetermined due date. As such, I’ve filled my gut tank with several cans of Tear Ass energy drink from Dollar Embargo to give me the fuel I need and, as an odd side effect, the ability to taste color! I can confirm that, yes, purple is indeed a fruit. The only flavor they had on-shelf was the nebulous “Citrus X”. Unlike Chemical X, which turns inanimate objects into Powerpuffs, the only thing Citrus X transforms is the odor of your urine. My piss bucket smells like it’s full of orange peels swimming in battery acid. I’m not 100% sure my kidneys aren’t going to explode by the time we get to the moral of this story. Oh well. Sallying forthwith!

In the twilight of his career, Kenny Russell wasn’t much for movie making. He stuck with weird short subject shit for the most part, while my pick for this Celluloid Zeroes collaboration is the final feature length flick the freaky fiend filmed before punching his ticket to the Underworld in 2011. And when I say “filmed”, I don’t mean it literally, because The Fall of the Louse of Usher was shot entirely via camcorder!

Yes indeed my flowers and weeds, the technology your parents used to have to rely on when they wanted to make their own sex tapes (back when they were actual tapes) is the medium through which Uncle Ken chose to tell this backyard gothic rock opera of his. And I gotta say, upon discovering this, my immediate concerns were that I had been bamboozled and this wasn’t the same Ken Russell I was looking for. Learning that its legitimacy is legitimate however, I felt like I was watching home movies of someone’s grandpa in the final days of a fatal cancer diagnosis. Without mincing words, you just can’t shake that awful feeling of pity for seeing someone brought so low. Even if just done as a simple pet project to have fun with his friends and neighbors (which it was), it still feels so beneath what the man had done with his prestigious (or at least semi-prestigious) career that it’s… well… pathetic. If they’d kept it as a private joke to share with each other and bring out for summer barbecue viewings, that’d be one thing. But to put it out on a DVD and demand people pay to see it? By Roger Daltrey’s tasseled togs, are you fucking yankin’ my crank?! Clearly not, otherwise I’d have nothing to rag on here! Well, aside from the extension cord I use for a belt.


Roger Daltrey – Innovator of the “glue huge strands of cooked spaghetti to your sleeves” look.

Okay, enough puttin' off the lovin'. Let's rinse off our genitals, put on my Lou Bega mixtape of bone medleys, and bang this bitch out like Sean Michaels (the porn actor, not the wrestler)! Let's just hope we don't let loose any two-cheek squeaks (or squeakquels) while we're at it.

The setting for our story in simply “Orange County, USA” according to our opening. Okay, so is it the Orange County with the arguing family of motorcycle builders, the one with Mischa Barton, or one of the half-dozen other fucking Orange Counties in the damn country!? Though it’s later revealed that our setting is the West Coast edition, that tiny tidbit of info would’ve been nice to know beforehand. As Baphomet would say, “Bah”.

Roderick Usher (James Johnston, who doubles as the movie’s composer) is a goth rock musician 20 years behind the curve. Lead guitarist and singer/whiner (and occasional whisper rapper) of a heretofore unnamed band (might I suggest “The Poegues”?), he’s arrested for the suspected murder of his wife/maracas player, Annabelle Lee (Emma Millions), to whom everyone likes to attach the preface descriptor of “Sweet”. Not so sweet when she’s found walled up in the Usher house with half her face missing and her pet mini-pincher chewing through her guts! Since her rocker widower is clearly off his rocker at the time of his capture, barely coherent and ranting about his innocence, rather than going to prison Roddy’s instead carted off to the local loony bin. Here he’s put under the care of the demented Dr. Calahari (Ken Russell) and his sex bomb assistant, Nurse ABC Smith (Marie Findley).


Not a good sign of things to come… pun intended.

Not just another bimbo in a medical fetish costume, ABC (Already Been Chewed?) is one of those wonderfully empowered ladies who uses her sexuality to manipulate others into getting what she wants, the endgame of which is often something fatal for those seduced by her charms. Also, as everyone is keen to point out, “She’s a great piece of ass”. Pretty much what you’d expect from a Russell girl.

They’re similar to “Bond girls”, only way more likely to be emotionally damaged and way more likely to have some manner of underlying disfigurement that will make you paranoid of any woman who hits on you during last call. Not unlike how Basket Case taught women to never talk up any guy at a bar carrying a picnic basket.


Hellooooooo Nurse!

Russell's oddball headshrinker has a penchant for wearing a variety of headpieces, which may or may not be the writer/director/producer/editor/cinematographer/actor's unsubtle pun to the audience that he himself is a “man of many hats”. Or, it could just be a sign that he had a bunch of goofy hats lying around in his home prop box that he thought would make for a running gag funny only to him. Either or. Said fetishizer of up top props also puts on a “hard to pinpoint but I'm pretty confident it's meant to be German because ABC keeps referring to him as 'Herr doktor'” accent that sounds exactly like the frantic urine lab doctor from the English dub of Dominion: Tank Police. And if you don’t know what that is, your life is a little less happy than it should be. Fix that. Soon. Or be forever denied existence as a complete person. Tank Police. Feel the power that we’ve got. We’ll give it our best shot.

No sooner is Rod tossed into his new cell then he starts in on the standard issue sexually deviant hallucinations that every lead of a Ken Russell movie suffers from. In this case, our hero envisions an orgy of blow up dolls that includes an inflatable dinosaur for added “Da fuq?!” factor. As he writhes, physically in his straight jacket and emotionally in his madness, ABC looks on intrigued. Speaking of our Nightingale on Elm Street, her role at the hospital is seemingly as Calahari’s personal caretaker more so than as his assistant. Much of their screen time together is spent with ABC feeding him, cleaning out his ears, and constantly checking the old fart’s vitals while they discuss the Usher case. Mayhaps the demented doc is a hypochondriac and needs frequent reassurance that he’s in stable health? Could it be that he’s due for a mandatory physical by the Department of Health? Then again, it may just be a thinly-veiled metaphor about how nurses tend to do all the work as doctors sit around getting fat off their fancy college degrees and trying their best to distinguish between a patient’s sphincter and a hole in the ground… which should probably raise some concerns from everyone given that doctors’ offices generally don’t include holes in their floors.

While DC and ABC try to unravel the mystery of Annabelle’s death (and whether it has anything to do with Roderick’s sister/violinist Madeline Usher [Ken’s wife Eliza Russell]) With a bona fide celebrity in their midst, Cal wants ‘Rick to perform for the institution’s patients-and-staff mixer, leaving it up to ABC to do the convincing. When her lusty demeanor isn’t enough to persuade the disturbed music maker, she confines him to a makeshift torture bed (that looks to be a beach chair with a blanket tossed over it) as a swinging pendulum butcher knife gradually descends back and forth above his pelvis. Though the protag laughs off her threat, citing an erectile deficiency, he’s not so sure of himself when XYZ reveals that she gave him Viagra. At the mere mention of her boner juice roofie job, Lil’ Rod (sounds like a personal problem) springs to life and Mr. Usher gives in to his caretaker’s demands. Good thing my doc’s accompanying CRN isn’t that hardcore. Being the world’s worst diabetic, she’d have had me paying dues to the Eunuchs Union Local 37 before you could say “THIS IS A MEDICAL EXAMINATION! STOP EATING THAT CHEESECAKE!”.

During the crazy people social soiree, Roderick is encouraged by Dr. C to get every available appendage he can up Nurse Smith’s very short uniform skirt. Hey, getting turned down by trim doesn’t mean you can’t encourage your fellow phallus holder to have a try! Bro code… or some horseshit. Anyway, Mr. Usher is then accosted by a pair of his fellow inmates that are heavy on a hippie astrology kick, asking him if he’s into “Ass-trology”, which I assure you that I certainly am. They allude to Miss ABC’s past interactions with a group called “The West Side Boys” which, from their intonations, presumably refers to some fucked up tribulations. More specifically, the ones spelled G-A-N-G-R-A-P-E.

No, not “gan grape” you nards! I meant “gang rape”. She had her flower forcibly plucked by a vulgar group of ne’er-do-wells with more testosterone than social grace. At least as far as I can infer. The later reveal that her entire erotic demeanor is made up of literal artificial bits and pieces (including that “great piece of ass!”) to disguise whatever shapeless horror she really is, postulates clearly that her outer self is a deceptive shell to hide the fragile truth beneath. Some obvious symbolism for Uncle Ken to waterboard us with. It’s an interesting visual representation, but is smashed so hard into our faces that it’s like being talked down to by a tech support rep that makes you wanna reach through the phone and elbow them in the throat.

I don’t do great with “message movies”. Unless they involve people getting run over en masse.

While Nursey Poo and The Rod explore their blossoming relationship, Dr. C uses the astrologist gals (one of whom is your typical old gypsy lady, while the other is a minstrel mummy… let that sink in) in an effort to Ouija up the soul of the slain Annabelle Lee and get the story of her demise straight from the victim’s protoplasmic mouth. Unable to establish a direct connection to the lass, they do manage to summon OSIRIS(!!!) instead, who speaks to them through the sacred vessel of… a Big Mouth Billy Bass.

Okay. This part got me. A surprise kidney punch of happiness I wasn't prepared for that left me on the floor with upturned lips ever so slightly trembling. This leads to a riddle that leads to a vibrating slinky version of those “weasel chasing a ball” toys that finally leads to the gypsy character divining that the question to the answer “The reveal of Annabelle Lee's true killer” is “What's the secret of her bones?”. Man, trying to force gags into a ‘Jeopardy!’ shaped mold requires mental gymnastics that my caffeine fueled cortex can’t fucking handle right now. This leads to Calahari sending his masked henchman Igor to retrieve Ann’s pearlies from her gravesite.

Taking a break from all story progress, Dr. Cal takes a scenic route scene to gloat to Roderick about his prized experiment – having hypnotized (via several props acquired from a Spencer’s Gifts clearance sale) a previous patient/guinea pig named Ernest Valdemar (Peter Mastin) in the midst of the man’s death throes, allowing Ernie’s mind to continue living indefinitely and communicating through a voice amplification box despite the death of the rest of his body… except for the part about how his jaw and eyes are still functional, and the other part about how THE BRAIN CANNOT SURVIVE WITHOUT BLOOD FLOW OR OXYGEN. Unfortunately, despite Mr. V’s predicament being an interesting piece about a person buried alive in the grave of his own corpse for 7 months, this bit of sidetrack has zilch to do with Rod’s tale and only serves as a *wink*wink*nudge*nudge* to EAP readers that reeks of time filler.


Sick Destro cosplay, bro!

Speaking of filler, the next segment takes the same theme, makes like a looter with a new TV and runs with it. Calahari has a therapy session with a woman hidden behind a mask who has some weird psycho-sexual fear of garden gnomes. Through his mania-delving analysis, the doc helps her realize she's actually famed femme fatale female wrestler, Beulah Von Birmingham (Sandra Scott)! Her revelation is interrupted when a masked prostitute named Mary (Mrs. Russell again) inserts herself into the scenario, declaring herself a birthday present to Roderick from his big sister… while ironically being played by the same woman who plays his big sister. Beulah recognizes her as one of her wrestling rivals though, and the pair have a no holds barred hardcore brawl for supremacy! It degrades into the two just dry humping each other before the silliness subsides prematurely with the pair escaping over a wall via convenient step ladder, to the chagrin of Calahari who planned to imprison the pair in his crazy house. Again, fun random bit of wackiness, but also again, entirely disconnected from having anything to do with advancing the damn story!

Wait a sec… Whoa. That’s a bit weird, isn’t it? I establish this review on the basis of its creator’s surname being a pun on the word “wrestle”, and ultimately there’s a scene of female wrestlers doing just that. The hypothesis of my subconscious being an astral projected time traveler while I sleep gains more and more traction. Nanoo fucking nannoo.

When Igor returns with the disinterred dentures of a dozen or so Ushers buried in the same boneyard (or, purchased from a gumball machine outside the corner deli as the case more likely is), Annabelle’s rise from the collection and hint at Poe’s short story ‘The Murders at the Rue Morgue’ as being the key to unlocking what really happened to her. Cal deciphers this as meaning Rod’s wife was actually murdered by a gorilla, but before he can question this logic further he’s called away to Valdemar’s room, where his pet zombie finally gives up the ghost. As if that weren’t enough to upset the bloated old goat, the institute’s previous staff, which the doctor had apparently imprisoned in the asylum’s basement for challenging his “revolutionary methods”, have somehow escaped (or at least the two members we’re ever privy to) and are wilding throughout the building in pursuit of revenge! Less the “pee in the communal coffee pot at work” type and more the “Carrie White on prom night” version.

Roddy, herr doktor, the old gypsy (now wearing a tea cozy on her head) and the blackface mummy lady escape the hospital with all limbs intact, returning to the Usher Estate. Once there, ‘Ricky discovers beloved sister Madeline dead at her own hand on what looks to be a teenage girl’s bed, amid some topless statues in the yard. Seems the “fake news” media reported that her brother had died in the sanitarium riot and the resultant grief with which she was overtaken pushed her to Romeo & Juliet herself, leaving behind a recorded confession (played for them by a crimson faced gorilla) that she was the one who prematurely punched Sweet Annabelle Lee’s mortality ticket! In the thralls of his own heartbreak, little brother Usher demands Death take him too, to which Dr. C relinquishes with an injection of something lethal. The duo are laid in state in their yard, surrounded by potted flowers probably taken from the dumpster behind the WalMart Garden Center.

With 15 minutes left in the movie, the aforementioned gorilla gather the remaining trio of guests in the siblings’ old childhood playhouse to view a VHS tape (played in a microwave for laughs). The vid is a further confession by Mad Maddie, telling of how she used Gory (the gorilla) to kill Annabelle with an obedience chip that the family had planted in the hulking simian’s brain after the poor brute was rescued from an abusive trainer. Thanks to an off-brand Playstation 2 controller, Mads maliciously manipulated the monkey into murdering her only rival for her dear brother’s dingus. From here it’s all about wrapping shit up, as Calahari is captured and returned to the asylum to undergo treatment, Nurse ABC is fine (except for an unexplained hand crushing incident in the end), Roderick and Madeline’s souls descend to hell on a righteous deflating bouncy castle, and their son and daughter prepare to move back into their family home with Gory now that everyone else has been driven away… I’m not going to explain anything from that last sentence, as I’ll leave it up to your own minds to fill in the blanks that, well, we’re never given anyway.


Unless Russell’s next of kin have some 2-4-5 Trioxin laying around, I’m pretty sure this is the end.

And there it is: Ken Russell’s final feature, The Fall of the Louse of Usher. Though greatly hampered by its poor choice of medium and “let’s just use what we’ve got lying around our houses!” budget, there’s actually a lot of entertainment to be had. The sound quality isn’t great, sometimes even bordering on horrible as it makes certain scenes almost completely auditorially illegible, with the worst being a stair well exchange that’s nothing but shouty echoes. Speaking of noise, one of my least liked parts of this cacophony of crazy are the awful little music videos that Rod and Mad made for their band, not the least bothersome of which involves the siblings being all “anguished high school goth kids” (well into their thirties/forties) with each other in a cemetery, dragging numerous visual aids about their incest relationship across our faces where, like the scrotum intimation I’m trying to make here, none were needed.

The cast is actually pretty solid for a buncha no-names. Not everyone, mind you, but our top-of-the-credits trio – Johnston, Findley & Mr. Russell – all make this a much more pleasant pill to swallow. Their characters are entertaining if not always interesting and their performances are appropriately campy without going overboard. Broken heart throb Roderick is well lost in the forest of confusion and desperate to find his way out; Nurse ABC carries a sensuality, charm and foreboding smile reminiscent of Cassandra Peterson’s beloved Elvira or a mash-up of Rocky Horror’s Columbia & Magenta; and Doc Calahari is a kooky crackpot who’s really a lot of fun to watch when you warm up to him, even in spite of Russell’s absurd German-ish accent, which grows on you if your ears don’t revolt against you first.

If you’re a Poe nerd, or have a Poe nerd in your life, you’ll enjoy picking out Louse‘s varied variety of references to the godfather of goth’s library of extensive materials. Some are obvious, some are a bit more obscure, and still others I’m sure I missed entirely because I’m barely acquainted with the chronically depressed fiveheaded oddball’s greatest hits, let alone his deep cut ditties. If what I’ve heard was true, Louse of Usher is a much better homage to Eddie Allan’s efforts than 2012’s The Raven, so again, consider it for the Poephile in your presence. And don’t you worry John Cusack, I’ll be kicking down your door sooner or later with crackling criticisms to burn your nose hair by!

The “gothic tale for the 21st century” has great potential that peeks out from behind its discounted Halloween seasonal mall shop props and modified tool shed sets, and with a little bit of script tampering and an injection of capital, I think, sans hyperbole, that TFotLoU could have easily been another Rocky Horror! Hell, with a Kickstarter campaign and some talented hands, it could still be. It’s as likely as Hulk Hogan playing the dad in a(nother) remake of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, but it’s fun to think of what could have been. Speaking of what could have been…

Hey! I finally made it to episode 100! It only took me… gimme a sec here…

Three and a half years. Shit. That’s an average of 2-3 reviews per month. Double shit. Billy Bass Osiris damn me and whatever wacky fantasy scenario I’m using today to stunt double for my real life personal hindrances. Oh well. I’ve got a pot of chili and a copy of Cannibal Killer Clowns on Dope calling my name with their siren song, so let’s hurry this up and just say it’s a case of quality over quantity.

Moral of the Story: If you ever want to get out of a mental institute alive, never question the sanity of the staff.

On the topic of superior quality, go treat yourself to some more RussellMania from our fellow Zeroes!



Checkpoint Telstar summons The Devils

Cinemasochist Apocalypse goes all Gothic

Micro-Brewed Reviews experiments with Altered States

The Terrible Claw Reviews excavates The Lair of the White Worm

Web of the Big Damn Spider courts The Boy Friend

Screenshots_____


I envision a lawsuit by the Estate of Edgar Allan Poe against the Estate of Ken Russell as presided over by the Estate of Judge Wopner here, in ‘The Dead Peoples’ Court’.


See, shit like that is why you’ll never get me within a mile of a LASIK office!


“I have to say, when my wife said she’d gotten me that reverse-gangbang I’d always wanted for my birthday, I wasn’t expecting… well… this. Oh well, let’s make the best of it, girls!”


Yes, kids, Ken Russell as a literal dick nose.


Scary Movie prop mask purchased from Marlon Wayans’ “Fund the next A Haunted House sequel” yard sale.


The New Slash Co. Mark 12 collection of knives! They’ll cut through shoe leather, a soda can and a full-sized rhinoceros, and STILL sever a human head like it were a ripe tomato without a single sharpening! I’d buy that for a dollar!


What? You’ve never been to a white trash Eyes Wide Shut party before?


My sex shed is way nicer than theirs!


“With the Psychic Readers Network, you can get in touch with the Egyptian gods for advice on life, love, and lucky lottery numbers for just $2.99 per minute! Call me NOW!”


Saint Polident – the Patron Saint of Denture Cleansers and veteran of the 100 Years Crusade against the kingdom of the Cavity Creeps.


And this is why I never trust elderly women in lingerie who ask me if I want to “smell their flower”.


A scene from Annie Sprinkle’s long-since-banned educational video for elementary school children on how bees pollinate flowers.


My attempts at bringing my own Frankensteinian meatloaf man to life didn’t go as I had hoped… at least he made for some delicious leftovers!


The only surviving still from a proposed 1992 reboot of Planet of the Apes that, I think we can all agree, would have probably been too awesomely reprehensible for this world anyway.


Alright! The Better Homes and Gardens annual “DIY Funerary Displays on a Budget” issue is out! They printed my article in this one!


In 1997, Nintendo introduced the first “rumble” function for video game controllers, causing them to vibrate as a form of sensory feedback for players to help increase their immersion in the games. 20 years after the introduction of vibrating controllers, females now make up nearly 50% of video gamers. Coincidence? My eye.

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Anubis will return next time in
“Guess Who’s Dying at Dinner”

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

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

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Episode 95 – Godzilla Resurgence (2016)

or “The West Wing: Japan”

Featuring: Hiroki “Attack on Titan” Hasegawa , Satomi “Attack on Titan” Ishihara , Yutaka “Oba: the Last Samurai” Takenouchi

Directors: Hideaki “Neon Genesis Evangelion” Anno & Shinji “Attack on Titan” Higuchi

Writer: Hideaki “Neon Genesis Evangelion” Anno

Origin: Japan

Also Known As: Shin Godzilla

Review_____

“Nothing in the first response manual applies here.”

(Author’s note: This review was intended for post in December 2015, so rewind your brains a few weeks to experience the proper mindset.)

Last year, for the International Congress of United Pantheons (I.C.U.P.)’s Non-Denominational Gift Exchange Caucus, I requested of my Mystery Mandatory Present Provider “an enigma box containing the forbidden knowledge of The Inferno”. What I got was a tin full of “Friends” trivia cards… I could solve a dozen Lament Configurations before I could tell you the name of Chandler’s fucking MONKEY! As per the ancient edicts of the ceremony, it’s sacrilege to reveal whose MMPP is whose, but I’d bet my life-size die cast replica of Stuntman Mike’s Charger that it was one of those smart ass trickster god pricks. Probably Loki or Coyote or, speaking of monkeys, Sun Wukong. Flea-bitten chimp. Every year he does that stupid gag where he ties a set of jingle bells around his tail, sticks it between his legs, and dances around singing his dirty version of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” like he hasn’t done it every year for the last six centuries. Fucking headache. Could somebody grab me a fistful of Anacin? My thanks.

Regardless of the culprit, I’m already prepared for the first season of “Fuller House” on Blu-ray (You can’t have a “Fuller” house! It’s already FULL, for James K. Fuck’s sake!) or some such shit to be my surprise this year, so I opted to indulge my sweet tooth and treated myself. After pulling a few strings, sacrificing a few Charles Band DVDs during the last full moon (*PUN!*) and calling in a “favor” from my import guy (your family will be returned to you unharmed in time for Hanukkah, Ishmael-san), I wrangled a bootleg of today’s feature! Pa rum pum pum pum, motherfuckers.

For you number nerds out there in the worldwide wasteland, you’ll notice that today’s episode is 95 rather than 93. Well, the movie I was writing up for the finale of Turkey Day Month 2016 was so mind scaldingly terrible that it gave me mental food poisoning. A bout of existential agony from which I’m still recovering. But, rather than let it get away unscathed, I’ve put it up on a meat hook TCM style to writhe a bit until I can get around to finishing it. And 94? The December entry for my year long celebration of evil clowns. I’ll be playing absent minded Dr. Frankenstein and going back to finish both installments in the immediate future, but for now they’ll remain “lost episodes” while I move on to (much) bigger and (MUCH) better things. Speaking of…

When Toho has taken to “rebooting” their main monster moneymaker’s movies in the past (Godzilla 1985 and Godzilla 2000), they did so by building off of the legacy of the original 1954 black & white unnatural disasterpiece. Hel, every installment of Big G’s Millennium series of flicks (with the exception of Tokyo S.O.S., which sequalized Against MechaGodzilla) were each, in themselves, separate sequels to King of the Monsters! Finally, half a century after God (Tomoyuki Tanaka) graced Earth with the grandest of grand Atomic Age monstrosities, Toho has gone back to the nuclear nightmare drawing board to not just start a new chapter, but a whole new book.

Unlike many Godzilla movies before, directors Anno and Higuchi waste no time jumping into the action. A mysterious undersea disturbance has suddenly activated offshore and made its way without delay straight into Tokyo Bay. And that’s not okay! The entire government goes into panic mode, half wanting to know what the threat is, half wanting to blow the fuck out of whatever it is, and half wondering if it can be contained or just driven back into the sea. If that doesn’t add up, don’t blame me. I haven’t taken a math class in 15 years and technology has made me stupid and dependent and… and… and unable to think of a third adjective. Poopie.

Anyway, as we watch elected officials scramble for data like Pizza Rat scurrying for a fresh slice, we the audience have a pretty solid hypothesis of just what it is that’s about to emerge from beneath the surf. Rather than stomping upon the shores of the rising sun though, this new kaiju instead swims its big finned backside from the bay straight into the Tama River, taking a tidal wave of upturned schooners and other sea crafts with it. The scene kinda reminds you of news footage from marinas hit by hurricanes. Like a boat warehouse came to life and the trauma of this ungodly abomination developing a fully functional digestive tract caused it to barf its overstock all over the place. Not unlike how I ended up last Labor Day when Boozerville Bottles & Kegs had a 3-for-1 sale on Tenafly Viper.

Leading biologists are called in for their expertise, but with such limited information available, none are willing to risk their reputations by make any guesses on just what to expect from the leviathan. The wankers are about as helpful as an atlas to a blind hitchhiker. Instead, a low ranking member of the Environmental Ministry (who happens to be an old college buddy of of our main protagonist, Shimura) chimes in with her observations, declaring the creature to be some manner of marine serpent, but one that’s grown flipper-like legs similar to a lung fish that would be crushed under the weirdo’s own weight were it ever to attempt going ashore. No sooner does the Prime Minister deliver such assurances to the citizenry via press conference, then with almost “F Troop” levels of pinpoint comedic timing, the monster sets its very large feet on land! And by the hoary holes of Yog-Sothoth is this beastie an all-over butterface.

Appearing nothing like the Godzilla teased to us in the movie’s promotional materials, I thought this abhorrent chicken of the sea was instead going to be the harbinger for the new king of the monsters, similar to the way 1985 prefaced the big guy’s eventual appearance with the massive radioactive parasite insect opening scene. That was one of the most pants pissingly terrifying movie moments of my childhood by the way, for anyone out there putting together a tin of trivia cards based on my exploits.

Anyway, this nightmarish amalgamation of Michael Crichton fiction and Jacques Cousteau fact turns out to be our titular Tokyo terrorizer! Resembling what would happen if a giant Moray eel and an Allosaurus had unprotected sex on top of a toxic waste dump, only to throw their resultant spawn into a dumpster fire following birth, this completely computer generated Jurassic juggernaut thankfully evolves like a friggin’ Pokemon with a Fire Stone up its butt! Climbing Darwin’s ladder with a quickness that would make Usain Bolt in Acme Rocket Shoes™ look like Droopy Dog doped up on Slo-Mo in comparison, the bug-eyed goliath becomes an upright walking, four limbed, air breathing horror show in a matter of hours, taking a shape more akin to the one-monster demolition team promised us… though still sporting a pair of googly-eyes that straddle the line between goofy and unnerving. He quickly retreats back into the Bay upon being confronted by the nation’s Self-Defense Force, though, allowing his human antagonists time to slap together a counterattack for his inevitable return. Like those friggin’ Salvation Army bell ringers that hang outside of the supermarkets every December, only less irritating and more dangerous.

Post rampage info shows that the monster powers itself with its own biological nuclear reactor, which means this Chernobyl on two legs (and with a hell of a lot of teeth) poses more of a threat to the citizenry of Japan than just collateral infrastructure damage. Good thing their weird pop culture obsession with virtually dating animals and marrying their pillows already has their birthing rates down, or they’d be in for a generation of flipper babies and tentacled toddlers! In a joint fact finding effort with the US Department of Energy, the creature’s likely origin comes from unregulated offshore disposal of radioactive waste materials some 60 years earlier. A Japanese biologist named Dr. Maki (who has since gone missing, leaving his private research materials behind for whomever found them) theorized that the superbeast was an ancient form of Lovecraftian deep sea horror that was altered by its exposure to the material way down in the ocean trenches. As the Americans call it (for no given reason), this “Godzilla” fed on the nuclear smorgasbord, growing and transforming into the mountainous menace it is today.

So, even after removing the marketing divisive material about the nuclear nightmare America inflicted upon their shores with Fat Man and Little Boy, Godzilla is still birthed from nature pointing up the folly of men? Okay. Well, as one born under “the red, white and blue”, I’m a little disappointed to see the consequential guilt trip of my government’s disgustingly short-sighted and irresponsible acts of wars past no longer used as the catalyst for further devastation. Then again, I suppose we got our fair share of penance when we shot ourselves in the foot with Zilla Takes Manhattan, so you can only expect a nation to endure so much. You’re the bigger man, Japan. Bigger than even Big Man Japan. Thank you.

When the demonic colossus reappears from the sea that spawned it, ‘Zills has once again transitioned, this time into the horror show that the advertising materials promised us. Now twice his previous size, his big dead salmon eyes have been replaced with beady little death gazers and the scads of random beastly fangs jutting from his mouth hole have, well, been joined by more of the same. He’s also rocking the newest iteration of his classic theme music, which should give fellow longtime fans a spine shiver as this ghastly goliath does right by his mantle and gets started turning the cityscape into an ’80s post-apocalyptic movie set designer’s wettest wet dream. Making His way to Tokyo, presumably to the nuclear power facility housed there, the government initiates a show of military force (partially so as not to appear dickless in the global political locker room) to stop Godzilla, or at least slow His progress while they work on a contingency plan to shut Him down. If you’ve ever seen any such show of “force” in a Toho flick past, you know how this is going to end.

The Defense Force’s hardware is even more ineffective now as it was in past movies, with current regeneration G not even acknowledging the machine gun fire and missiles exploding in his face. A lovely little testament about how you can’t destroy the embodiment of national PTSD with physical force. Artillery fusillades are as effective as roman candles and Red Ryder BB guns, while bomber payloads don’t even make him blink… well, he doesn’t have eyelids, so blinking is impossible anyway (kinda shitty evolution you’ve got there, boy-o), but you get the gist of my cliche.

With the nation’s neutered attack force (that’s what you get for aligning with Hitler!) seeing their best efforts barely even diverting the demon’s gaze, the US stick their military industrial complex shaped dick into the action on their allies’ behalf. What kind of “Mission Accomplished” banner moment will this cowboy cavalry carpet-bombing bring about? I won’t spoil it, but I’ll tell you this much for free – things go from “national tragedy” to “all seven levels of Hell on Earth at once” in less time than it takes an episode of “Shin Chan” to expose a child’s penis!

The USA thinks its strong-arm siege tactics are a fix-all, but said “problem solver” just leads to generational levels of devastation instead? Well played, Anno-san. I knew you wouldn’t let the nation of John Wayne escape the barbs of your lampoon harpoon. There shall never be forgiveness for The Conqueror from any Asian power, you racist bastards!

In light of the epic failure of the attempted efforts of the USAF bombing on Godzilla, the UN proposes that the nuclear option is the only means remaining if the rest of the world want to safeguard themselves against their own visits of retaliation from the 400ft tall atomic Krampus. Can Godzilla be put down without the Land of the Rising Sun being turned into the Land of the World’s 24 Hour Nightlight? Will our heroes be able to stand up to the Beast of Tokyo Bay before the Hell’s Highway paving good intentions of the rest of the planet leave the entire island bombed back to the Stone Age? Well, if the Stone Age were known for being an irradiated wasteland unable to support life of any kind. That’s such a stupid statement when you think about it. How does carpet-bombing the fuck out of a place denote that its surviving citizenry will be devolved back into stone tool using cave dwellers somehow? I’m pretty sure that said survivors would retain their knowledge of modern education and technology, keeping them well above the status of even a Flinstonian existence, let alone the actual Stone Age.

The big point of all this is that NONE OF IT MATTERS, because whether or not we hairless apes are actually able to cease or desist Godzilla, the radioactive fallout from his size 98,000 foot falls and blockbuster breath would leave the entire city (and likely much of the rest of the nation) UNFUCKING INHABITABLE FOR CENTURIES. Just ask this science-tician!

Kinda ruins the whole point of trying to stop Him, doesn’t it? I’d say our best option is to fast track those moon bases that Newt Gingrich promised us. Or hitch a ride to Metaluna with Exeter! You get used to the smell of mutants after a while. They’re just like our insects…just, you know, larger of course.

When you put aside all of the time periods and variances of the individual movies, when you boil the Godzilla filmography down in one of those Texas Chainsaw Massacre III oozing flesh pits, each movie is ultimately divided into one of two core categories: “Godzilla vs. Man” and “Godzilla vs. Monsters”. The kid inside me (don’t be gross, you sicko) can never get enough of the latter, but my adult self learned to appreciate the former once I figured out shit like symbolism. As such, as much as it would’ve been great to see what kind of charbroiled abomination the mind behind Evangelion could have turned Rodan or Anguirus into, I really enjoy the solo-kaijued Resurgence. Its treatment of Godzilla as an avatar for the real life Jigoku that Japan suffered through during the March 2011 tsunami and resultant Fukushima nuclear disaster is extremely effective. Emotional scenes of crews in radiation suits standing bravely in the face of the towering atomic inferno given form’s fatal exposure levels is a powerful tribute to the real life safety crews who made the same sacrifices to save their fellow countrymen from being engulfed in Fukushima’s fallout. I’m very curious to see if the long term effects of this new Godzilla’s first walking tour of Tokyo are felt in the sequel(s), much like people have feared the same long reaching damage of the Fuku.

On that note, like any Godzilla episode from either distinction, Resurgence‘s titular hellbeast is little more than a huge, grotesque, rampaging plot device as the movie is much more so about the drama of its human cast. Unlike most previous tales, which focused on lovably wacky protagonists and their supporting casts, this reboot takes its cues from the very first Godzapalooza. Everything is played VERY straight, with its cast of specialists and political figures engaged in nonstop research, devising panic suppression and resource management, and trying their best not to shit their pants while doing all of it in the heat of the moment… subconscious Asia joke not intended. While we’re on the subject though, does anyone else think it’s just some long standing typo that that song’s titled “Heart of the Moment”? Fucking progressive rock supergroups named after continents they weren’t even from! A POX ON THEE!

The characters aren’t really given much characterization (to the point that right now I couldn’t attach a name to a single one of them if my afterlife depended on it), as we only see them in “business mode” for the majority of the movie. It’s fine though, thanks to the deathly serious tone. In fact, the few moments of personality we do see from them are all the more impactful and by the end we’re not just giving a crap about some of these paper pushers and hand shakers, but giving a crap about where their paths continue on from here.

While their leaders try to keep their heads cooler than Mr. Freeze behind closed doors, we’re sporadically given the general public’s take on the tragedy too. Though lacking in any leading or supporting cast representation, the teeming masses are instead shown via scattered bits of found camera phone footage. These moments give us the man-on-the-street perspective just enough to help us relate to our brothers and sisters of the East without overstaying their welcome. Definitely a better use of the gimmick than making it the entire axis around which your production rotates… I’m looking (with seething derision) in your direction, Cloverfield!

Despite my “I wouldn’t piss on ’em if they were on fire” stance on found footage gimmicks, it’d be cool if Toho had put together some shorts based on these moments for the DVD release. Much in the way Marvel was doing their “One Shots” shorts, but introducing us to some normal people that could become characters in later movies. Or just as cheap shots to our feels boxes by getting us to connect with said people just to watch them die horribly. Those work too.

My favorite instance of the peasants’ part in the picture is seeing mobs of them gathered in the streets, protesting the government’s proposed destruction of Godzilla because they’ve instead chosen to hail the kaiju king as a living deity! Great for me, since this was exactly the foundation for my proposed sequel to Legendary’s 2014 Godzilla, in which the nuclear halitosis vomiting bohemoth and his own legion of worshipers would clash with the cultist followers of Cthulhu! Patience, Anubis. One day you’ll save up enough Marlboro Miles for that Cosmic Cube, then *BOOM!* Godzilla Vs. Cthulhu on every IMAX screen in the world!

Given my imperfect rating up above, I was going to have to start picking nits sooner or later. Now’s as good a time as any. Nit the First: size matters. Remember in my Godzilla 2000 review when I bitched about the hideous green screen effects that made Godzilla’s size unintentionally fluctuate frequently throughout? Well, as much as you’d think that wouldn’t be such a problem in Resurgence, what with every inch of the city smasher’s DNA being born of computers for the first time in a Toho flick, you’d be wrong. Once again Zillie’s proportions vary depending on the angle from which he’s portrayed. I ‘m sure the majority of viewers won’t mind, nor should they. But, if you’re like me and such inconsistencies drag over your brain like high gradient sandpaper, be prepared. Most of these moments come about as the result of some pretty spiffy shots too, so I’d rather sit through them and tell the shrill voice nagging me about it to join the voice that keeps telling me to run over teenagers in the streets and shut up for a few hours. It doesn’t change the fact that the issue still exists, but ignorance is bliss. Just ask climate change deniers!

Nit Picks Part Deux – From the visual spectrum, let us now give the ears a chance to air their grievances. Though much of the movie races along sans soundtrack (apropos for all the dramatic tension the actors are swimming in), there’s a jarring moment where something that sounds like a Japanese professional wrestler’s theme music kicks in… Seriously. Legit. I shit you not. This bizarre track comes complete with rocking guitar riffs that gave me aural flashbacks to the similarly misplaced six-string screeches that heralded Michael Myers’ moments of menace in Halloween 6! These would’ve been forgivable for a less serious showing, say in one of the Great One’s ’90s era monster mash mosh pit throwdowns. But here? Why!? Why would you ruin a New York Philharmonic concert by bringing a sick cow dressed like a member of Twisted Sister onto the stage to fart violently at the audience!? The rest of the music is the typical symphonic brilliance you’d expect from a Toho Godzilla outing, which makes this Bizarro World birthed harmonic rupturing all the worse. Such ear abuse I cannot excuse.

Nits III: Nits Go to College – Japan should really invest in some manner of sonar or seismic equipment. I mean, I know you can’t have a Godzilla flick without scenes of the panicked public in terrified mob mode, but how were the government NOT tracking His movements underwater?! Toho broke out the BIGGEST Godzilla ever (all because of some overcompensational pissing contest to one-up Legendary’s then biggest incarnation, which also happened to be the moniker’s biggest moneymaker), meaning this Mothrafucker’s gotta cause a LOT of earth shaking and tidal waving when his gigantic carcass comes a rumblin’ back outta Tokyo Bay! Also, shouldn’t the entire nation have been in a state of emergency after the skyscraping super mutant’s previous path of destruction!? We see kids in school uniforms and salarymen in business suits running for safety when they should’ve been home huddled around their TVs and ready to evacuate at the first sign of ANY undersea disturbance! For Fucker Von Fuckington’s sake, even if you take the seismic and oceanic shit out of the equation altogether (because you’re just being a contradictory asshole), the moment that they would’ve made visual contact with that giant ravaged lizard head poking up out of the water, the air raid sirens should’ve been turned to eleven! Instead, you’d think everyone in Tokyo were all looking away from the sea for about 20 minutes, then turned around to see Big G suddenly making fucking landfall!

I had a couple of other minor moments of misgiving with Resurgence I would have been happy to quantify, but they deal too much with certain perishable materials I’d rather not risk spoiling, so I’ll leave those to drift off into the ether as I wrap this up like I would Lil’ Anubis in a reverse gangbang. Not that I’ll ever be able to afford enough prostitutes to make that happen with my credit rating.

I really dig the direction Toho took with the G-Man’s new incarnation. The serious atmosphere, the return to Godzilla as a source of horror rather than heroics, His burnt and heavily scarred appearance, His hyper-evolving ability that opens the door for all manner of creative choices, and top shelf CG that warrants its hefty budget by putting the “special” into “special effects”. It all works so well, that this may trump my personal nostalgia bias and put Resurgence atop my list as my new favorite “Godzilla vs. Man” movie. I’m absolutely excited to see how Toho follows up, which is only swollen to painfully girthy levels having seen the little end credits tease. Yes, for any and all who hate the trend of end credit pop-up scenes, too fucking bad because they’re everywhere and will continue to be so. They’re the Bebe’s kids of movie gimmicks – they don’t die, they multiply.

And so it goes. Whether you call it Godzilla Resurgence or Shin Godzilla, it’s the second fantastic flick to bare the mantle of the King of Monsters in a three year period. If I weren’t an Atheist Death God, I’d think I’d died and gone to Heaven. Give me a bottomless A&W root beer float and a self-regenerating stuffed crust pizza and you may just have a convert on your hands! Between Legendary and Toho, it’s a damn good time to be a Godzilla fanboy/fangirl/fantrans/fansans. Our long time significant other and our side piece not only know about each other, but they’re both doing their best to appeal to us rather than trying to bump each other out of the picture! Could this lead to, dare I say it, a three-way?! Not just a three way, but a three way where we just sit back and they work together to give us the best 2 hours of our life!? I can’t help but feel selfish even thinking about it, but damn! Mirth! Joy! Celebration!

We’re damn sure as shit going to need the imaginary nuclear nightmare of Godzilla(s) to keep our minds off the impending real nuclear nightmare we’re all staring down. Hopefully they can prevent us from going insane from paranoia induced terror and eating each others’ faces as if they were fried in the Colonel’s 11 secret herbs & spices.

Damn… now I’m hungry.

Oh, and if you’re at all curious as to why Toho switched the title of the movie from Resurgence to Shin for the US release, it’s because they didn’t want anyone to mistake their movie having anything to do with Independence Day Resurgence. From the hushed whispers of the damned who have seen IDR, I think Toho made the right decision.

Moral of the Story: Learn the ancient paper folding art of Origami. Not only will it give you a leg up the next time you apply for a job at a hibachi restaurant, but you might just prevent your own atomic annihilation!

Screenshots_____


The Japanese Prime Minister’s proposal of a heavy tax increase on used-panty vending machines was a dark day for many, and the ripples were felt both by the common folk and the halls of government alike.


“Oshiro’s trying to pass of ‘turducken’ as a legitimate word! Somebody get the newest edition of ‘The Official Scrabble Dictionary’ and snuff out the flame of this dishonorable old cur’s rebellion against Emperor Triple Word Score!”


Looks like Venice during a rush hour gondola accident.


I told Barney to get the abortion, but he refused to be a “murderer”. Well, good luck singing “I Love You” to that thing every night for the next 18 years!


To your left you’ll see Sanrio’s Hello Kitty Farm, the Gigantor testing facility and the famous Cosplay Garment District. On the right is the legendary studio where the first tentacle rape cartoon ever was produced in 1947!


So the government’s elite anti-Godzilla intelligence detail operates out of the backroom of a Kinko’s?


An entire staff of interns are assembled to clear Representative Hentai’s browser history before news of his affair with the star of Fart Woman 7 becomes public.


You don’t want to be anywhere near a living nuclear reactor when its IBS starts acting up! Everybody RUN!


The world’s hardest game of Minesweeper!


That’s exactly how my roasts turn out any time I try to cook with my broiler.


Those clashing colors and patterns are a mess! The Japanese government really needs to a take a cue from their Nazi allies and get Hugo Boss to design their uniforms.


“I’m starting to worry that we went a little overboard with the architectural design for the new Jewish Community Center. Think we could get away with Trump’s ‘Microsoft Shapes’ excuse on this one?”


If Freddy Krueger fucked Denver the Last Dinosaur and their baby was passed through an x-ray machine a few hundred times before abandoning it at the bottom of an active volcano, you’d get that.


THIS is why you shouldn’t hold in your farts all day. ESPECIALLY if you get your breakfast from Taco Bell!

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Anubis will return next time in
“Faster, Frankenstein! Kill! Kill!”

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.

Episode 92 – Killjoy (2000)

or “Homey Don’t Play That”

Featuring: Ángel “Street Knight” Vargas , Vera “Stigmata” Yell , Lee “Once played an uncredited drug dealer on an episode of ‘The Young and the Restless‘” Marks

Director: Craig “Dead South” Ross Jr.

Writers: Carl “Urban Massacre” Washington

Origin: USA

Followed by: Killjoy 2: Deliverance From Evil ; Killjoy 3 ; Killjoy Goes to Hell ; Killjoy’s Psycho Circus

Review_____

“Damn, this motherfucker got some big ass feet!”

A glorious day to you, my heathens and sheathens! It’s me, it’s me, your A-N-U-B… I-S. Always rousing suspicions and arousing suspicious women! From Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man to House of Frankenstein to Frankenstein Vs. Baragon, everybody loves a crossover. Tapping into that vein for so much of its delicious delicious blood, I bring you the “Turkey Day Month Casually Mingles with the Year of the Painted Horrors” pairing you never knew you wanted (because you probably won’t) – Killjoy!



And boy does it fucking ever. I haven't seen a movie so forthcoming with its titular content since New York City Lesbian Gangbang.

Fun fact: I once couch crashed for a week in the Brooklyn apartment of Maria DaMaris, one of the titular participants of said location specific “no Y chromosomes allowed” flesh exchange. It’s true! Also, despite my emphasis of the “tit” in “titular”, Maria’s major physical asset is her posterior, even after her breasticular supplementation procedure. Also also, I was there as a regular guest, not as a sexy guest. Also also also, I may or may not have masturbated repeatedly in her shower…

Remember back at the turn of the century, when Charles Band tried to re-ignite the Blaxploitation subgenre in the late-90s/early-00s with his Alchemy Entertainment/Big City Pictures “urban horror” label? Whether it was a note of romantic intent to the ’70s milestone of cinematic screwiness or just a cheap marketing attempt to convince black and “pale skinned appropriators of urban African-American culture” (you know, “whiggers”) audiences to buy into his bullshit, it happened either way. The tent poles of this inner-city circus were The Horrible Doctor Bones, Ragdoll, and the face-painted farce of fear from today’s feature. Given that we never got Ragdoll Vs. Dollman or the much hoped for prequel Doctor Bones: the College Years, while Killjoy would see the light of DVD again and again in no less than a trio of sequels, the Dollar Embargo Pennywise knock-off was the sole survivor of the label’s purge. His adventures culminated with 2012’s Killjoy Goes to Hell, but unlike a certain masked menace who did the same 15 years prior, this monstrous mischief maker has yet to find his way back.

Oh wait, scratch that. It looks like Chuck Band has summoned his jugular juggling jester back from the lake of fire for the recently released Killjoy’s Psycho Circus. Fuck me.

Speaking of getting fucked, I’m reviewing my physical copy of this movie, which is included on a single disc with both the second and third such flicks that were available at the time. The main menu of the trilogy has no extras or options, simply offering the ability to select each movie individually, or to “Play All”… Who THE FUCK marathons the first three Killjoy movies?! This isn’t the original Star Wars or Indiana Jones trilogies! Fuck’s sake, my juice is dried up by the finish of the first film, let alone would I ever have enough left over to even attempt another 3 hours of half-baked harlequin horrors after the fact! Speaking of juices, let’s squeeze this rancid orange (I’m sorry, president rancid orange) for all its worth and hope we don’t get any in our eyes. Sally forth!

In case you weren’t aware that Killjoy was shot almost 20 years ago, it’s made very apparent from the start as our two allegedly high school age female leads, Monique (Dee Dee Austin) and Jada (Vera Yell), exchange dialogue likes extras out of “Martin”. The Martin Lawrence comedy, not the George Romero “vampire who’s not a vampire” movie, in case I needed to be clear. Their deep conversation on the ethical quandary of “using a boy for his phat ride because you’re tired of walking home from school” is interrupted by nice guy Michael (Jamal Grimes), who’s got a heart-on for Jada, despite Monique’s clear disgust of him and, well, pretty much any guy who doesn’t offer to drive her around in their Mustang convertible. Much as Jada opts to treat the lad like a human being, and may even have a little appreciation for his blatant affections for her, it’s made very clear that Mikey’s immediate future will be in a body bag if Jada’s boyfriend Lorenzo (the oil guy?) discovers the pair have been conversing. Despite all this, Mike still feels compelled to spit into the wind and asks Jada to their school homecoming dance. If you think this is the perfect place for this poor man’s Dulé Hill to get his Jansport kicked in and the Puma logo imprinted on his pancreas, you’d be a way better predictor than Nate Silver right now!

And if you don’t know who Dulé Hill is, I’ll do you a favor: he was the black guy on “Psyche”. Yeah, the one who looks kinda like he played Kenny/Bud on “The Cosby Show” in the ’80s, but didn’t. That’s Deon Richmond, who was in the 2011 Kevin Sorbo, Danny Trejo movie Poolboy: Drowning Out the Fury… Sorry, just trying to avoid talking about Killjoy. I’ll get back to swallowing this capsule of broken glass now.

Featuring all of the cinematic professionalism of an after-school special, our movie actually starts like one too! In true movie fashion, this is the scene that “hood thug stereotype that red states think all black people look and act like” Lorenzo (William Johnson) and his cronies T-Bone (Corey Hampton) and Baby Boy (Rani Goulant) roll up upon. Mikey receives the beating alluded to previously, courtesy of the “even more of a hood thug stereotype than his boss” T-Bone, as Jada screams in protest. Though seemingly vicious in execution, NY Strip’s assault doesn’t draw an ounce of blood (probably no room in the budget), while the most vicious blow is made instead by ‘Zo, who steps on Piggy’s specs and tells him not to be caught “slippin”. Getting up with relative ease despite his back being the stage for Porterhouse’s stomp dancing (maybe the bully was wearing Pumps, so it was like being stomped with little hemorrhoid donuts?), Michael shoots some pretty harsh stink-eye at a nearby homeless man who offered no help during the incident. Our hero (by default, I guess) then goes home and does what any victim of a tragic love triangle would do – attempt to summon a vengeful spirit named Killjoy by sitting in the center of a circle of his mom’s votive candles and angrily manhandling a clown doll!

No fucking attempt at explaining Mikey’s ritual is made, let alone where he learned such a practice, but the homemade voodoo ceremony is cut short when Tiny Male lures Mike out into the streets under the guise of regretting the earlier fracas and wanting to be friends. Anyone who falls for something that stupid deserves to be beaten up by a guy named after a cut of meat, Mikey, so you’ve only got yourself to blame when the goons kidnap your naive ass. They drive him out to a vacant lot (by way of a car rocking back and forth in front of a blank black back drop!), and getting a lead pacemaker “accidentally” shot into his chest. Well, a bit of a downer ending, but at least the movie’s over now, right? Let’s go home and have a piping hot mug of triple Swiss Miss with brandy!

Awww shit. I knew it was too good to be true. Instead we’re thrown a year into the future, where Jada has long since broken up with Lorenzo and is instead now being courted by another classmate, Jamal (Lee Marks). She still has unresolved feelings for ‘Enz (“What am I supposed to do? He took my virginity when I was with him!”), but Jamal tells her she needs to forget about him and start thinking about Michael… Wait, what?! Why should she be thinking about the would-be boyfriend her ex killed? Shouldn’t she be thinking about herself? Just ’cause you’re black doesn’t make you Montel Williams, man. Stick to the Easy Cheese pick-up lines and lookin’ pretty, leave the self-help shit to the professionals.

Elsewhere from all this woo pitching, Lorenzo, Newborn Male and Sirloin are still in their west coast ménage à trois, trying to freestyle about weed and passing blunts between their shifts at wherever the hell it is they make their money. Let’s say Good Burger. Anyway, as soon as Lorie kisses his homies goodbye so he can engage in a little bump and grind with whatever girl he’s currently staining sheets with, Infant and Rib Eye are lured out of their domicile by the siren song of a passing ice cream truck. Looking to indulge their munchies, the lads engage the truck’s owner, who proclaims himself an undercover drug dealer selling his product under the disguise of an ice cream shilling clown. Of course this painted pusher is actually the mirth spreading murderer of our title, and when he invites the pair into his parlor (well, his truck), they’re magically transported to Killjoy’s private pocket universe: a warehouse covered in shitty graffiti. Yep. No three-ring carnival of carnage, just an abandoned building. Once there, naturally the duo are done in, with Flank being “smoked” like a blunt and Kiddo being… hit by a truck? Okay, Tenderloin’s dollar store Freddy Krueger demise is expected, but dragging a guy all the way to your own little death dimension just to hit him with a truck?! That shit’s whack like Rob Ford’s crack!

Oh well. Adieu, T-Bone. You were too well marbled for this world.

Lorenz falls for the same gag sooner than later (as in the very next scene), attempts to unload 21 rounds from his magical movie REVOLVER into joy boy, then ends up holier than a Swiss cheese sex doll when Killy straight up steals Weird Al’s Rambo gimmick from UHF by making with an oral machine gun and spitting Zo’s bullets back at him, rapid fire. Well, technically there are NO holes in Lorenzo, because this minuscule effects budget couldn’t cover squibs, so instead he just has little bursts of red digital splatter flash over his torso for a few seconds, leaving behind NO holes and NO blood! You can see why it’s one of my “Top 25 Hemorrhage Inducing Movie Moments of All Time”… a list that doesn’t actually exist, but probably should.

Though infuriating, this scene brings with it the movie's solitary redeeming moment (aside from its 65 minute running time) – watching Lorenzo's new girlfriend Kahara (Napiera Groves) engage in a gratuitous shower scene. I know it's an all too common device that I've complained about in the past, but in such a white dominated genre, you just don't get to see a whole lot of brown-skinned beauties in that classic exploitation position so, well, I really appreciate it when it happens. Reminds me of my high school days when porn wasn’t available at the clit click of a touchscreen. Pardon me while I get “nostalgic” for a minute or two…

Ahhhh. I feel two quarts lighter! Back to business (or “biznaas”), Jada gets a midnight call from Monique of much urgency. In fact, it’s of such urgency that Foreigner would proclaim it an urgent urgent emergency. So urgent, so urgent, just wait and see. Remember that ineffective hobo (Arthur Burghardt) that sat idly by and watched a certain refugee from a butcher block scuff test his new kicks on Mike’s torso the year prior? Well, on the anniversary of the love-lorned loser’s loss of life that same nameless squatter, possibly while hopped up on Viper (+25 movie nerd points to anyone who knows that reference without Googling it!), has sought out the girls to recap everything from the first act to burn off another 5 minutes. For reasons he never explains, the “not nearly filthy enough to be a believable homeless guy” knows that Killjoy operates on CPT (Clown People Time) and has just now answered Michael’s call for revenge, 365 days late. Having offed Lorie and the Hoods though, shit should be all peaches and plums, right? Well, no. Turns out that Killjoy wants to ply his namesake to Monique and Jada too, while Jamal’s just a bonus, I guess. What did the girls do to deserve such treatment? Never underestimate the blind anger of a nerd scorned.

Pro-tip, ladies and gents: just because someone isn’t romantically interested in you doesn’t mean they’re evil. In fact, you’re the more than likely the only one who’s an a-hole, for holding it against them when they reject you. Trust me. Don’t set yourself up for the same regrets I did. Movies and TV and books and songs lie to you – there’s no such thing as someone you were “destined” to be with, and it sure as shit isn’t their fault or yours if they don’t have the same feelings for you that you have for them. Forget about ’em and keep looking elsewhere. Hell, stop looking for love and that little prick Cupid’s arrow might just pop you in the back when you’re not expecting it! Worked for me and EDB, just might work for you too. Now enough of the touchy-feely tripe! I’m not Dr. Drew and this sure as shit ain’t “Loveline”!

So, the old man disappears in a puff of smoke (maybe he has a stick of chronic burning in his jacket pocket?) and our trio of young African-Americans pretending to be even younger African-Americans opt to take the initiative and confront Clown Boy head-on (“Apply directly to the forehead!”), climbing into the back of his seemingly abandoned truck, parked conveniently right out front where the old man said it would be. Wow, so these kids are ready to attack welfare Pennywise (who’s yet to approach either of them and may not even have beef to resolve), all on the word of a random vagrant whose validity is due solely to his knowing their names and disappearing in a cloud of smoke like David Copperfield or Batman? These guys would probably follow David Blaine across an ocean of molten magma!

As soon as the three materialize in Killie’s murder warehouse (why everyone who goes to this place does so by landing on the floor in some kind of Power Rangers pose, I couldn’t tell you to save my fucking life), Jamal starts up with some Scooby-Doo “We need to split up!” nonsense that the girls aren’t having. Jammy-Jams even flubs one of his lines, but director Ross keeps it in anyway! Bravo, sir. John Singleton you’re not.

With repeated utterances of “We got to!”, Jamal pushes his insistence that splitting up is the only option and wanders off alone, leaving the ladies to their paired fate. In reality, I'm guessing this has to do at least partially, with the fact that there are three of them and only two doorways on the set for Bozo von Chucklefuck’s Haunted World of Spooky Black-on-Black Crimes. This lasts every second of about 2 minutes before the three are reunited, scared back together by Killjoy who…doesn’t really do much to bother them beyond his bad laugh, worse lines and some Tim Burton Joker-ish gag where he offers Jamal a literal hand. You know, cuz it’s a hand…and he offered him a hand…because it’s a severed hand…and Jamal thought he was just offering him a figurative hand…but it was literal… because…it’s…a…hand… Anybody wanna go in halfsies on a gun rental and a pair of bullets? I’m really not feeling much for this whole “not being dead” gimmick lately.

Our heroic trio are then forced to fight off illusory dopplegangers of ‘Zo +2, not because Jada needed to evolve as a character by physically exorcising her residual emotional attachment to her ex (she squares off with Steak ‘Ems instead), but because her new boyfriend just needed to kick her old boyfriend’s phantom ass to prove he’s better than a ghost. And he does, thanks to a ninja sword that he recovers from a tipped over box, because I guess Killjoy’s warehouse services those Chinatown outlet stores that sell decorative weapons to wanna-be Bruce Lees for less than a tenner. Right next to the polyester kimonos and the plaster dragons painted to look like they’re made of jade. Speaking of jade, Jada also benefits from said stock as Mo’ passes her a comically theatrical battle ax to fend off Ghost Beef. Because Charles Band’s props department is made up mostly of day-after-Halloween purchases he made from Big Lots. I had to fight him over a battery-operated wolf skeleton this year! It was weird too, cuz the damn thing still had ears somehow despite being a skeleton. I let him keep it. I’ll have to think of something else to get my sister for Cthulhumas this year.

Pastrami is shown that, despite his claims, being dead doesn’t mean he can’t be killed (or in this case, decapitated by Jada), while Jamal struggles with undead Toddler, attempting to gouge out the vato’s oculars only to miss completely and gently massage his eyebrows instead. Fortunately for our hero, it seems the brow ridge is just the weakpoint the exorcist ordered, as said light caress causes the baddie to leak green smoke from his eyes, cry out in pain, dissolve into a cloud of eyesore particle effects, and make that weird zapping sound you always heard from the Tesla Coils in a b-movie mad scientist’s lab.

‘Joy reappears, dispatching Jam and Monique with ease, then corners Jada and asks for a kiss. She complies, but only if he leaves their world forever. The capering antagonist could’ve easily pulled the lawyer card and instead forced her to stay in his world forever, citing unclear wording, but instead just does the dickhead thing and refuses to honor their agreement, just because. He then reveals himself to be Michael, who delivers a monologue about how unfair it was to be bullied by everyone when he just wanted some friends. Jada offers to be his friend, but he wants her to be his girlfriend, not his friend that’s a girl. She clearly wants to tell him she doesn’t like him “that way”, but hesitantly says yes instead, only to knife him in the guts a few dozen times when he gets aggressively huggy. Nothing to do with her station in life or where she comes from, but I’m guessing Jada did a stretch up the river at some point because she shivs that boy like a woman who’s seen some shit (or done some shit) in a prison lunch line before! This Dorothy’s been to Oz, and I’m not talking ruby slippers and flying monkey bellboys!

If you thought everything sounded stupid up to this point, you’ve only dipped a toe in the stupidity quicksand. Now, after murdered Mikey fades away, Jada collects Jamal and Monique and the three stroll out of the warehouse like everything’s hunky-dory. It’s not, of course, because we’re only 55 minutes into this little-over-an-hour mire. As I was saying, they walk out of the warehouse (which is just a warehouse now and not a parallel dimension?) and find the Killjoy Mobile parked across the street. You-dread-who pops up AGAIN with his three lackeys still in tow and proclaims that he can’t be killed in his world. You mean exactly like Freddy Krueger had to be brought into our reality to be killed? Right. But, I’m presuming that they’re all in our reality right now, right? Or are they still in his world?! I’m shit out of theories on this one, and hold your ponies lads and lasses cuz it only makes less fucking sense in a minute!

The good guys hear the homeless guy Obi-Waning in their heads and telling them they need to “kill the doll” (rather than “use the Force”), which they make it a point to vocalize out loud, cuing Kony the Clown in on their plan. He gets pissed and tries to chase them down, but they escape into the back of his ice cream truck, because it looks like all you need to do to get out of his trap dimension really is just walk out of its front door! And this time, rather than being thrown back into the warehouse-between-worlds, the magic fool bus instead transports them to…Michael’s old apartment?! How the fuck does this work!? What the FUCK was going on in your head when you wrote this, Mr. Washington?! I feel my brain being spaghettified right through my eyeballs by the black hole this movie’s collapsed reality is creating! ARRRRRGH!

Before Jada can destroy the doll it turns into Michael, begging her (while she straddles him in Cowgirl position…awkward) not to kill him because everything he did was out of love for her. She hesitates, which is odd considering how savagely she pig stuck the guy not 10 minutes ago! Ultimately her killer instinct wins out again and she gets the chance to murder her admirer a second time. Mikey cries out in pain, reverts back into a toy, and some mystical earthquake sends the villains back through a vortex to whatever homeboy purgatory they’re stuck in now. Jamal warns the girls not to break the circle of votive candles (which aren’t lit anyway…) and they huddle together to hold hands, transported back to Monique’s place with no explanation as to why. Jedi Fred Sanford awaits them there too, only to dissolve sans any further dialogue. Without batting an eye, Jamal suggests that the three go out for a bite to eat and everybody learns to feel good about laughing again. No, seriously, they get all dressed up, sit in a nightclub, and talk about how great it is to laugh… Somebody actually got paid to write these lines!

To keep up with the knock-off A Nightmare On Martin Luther King Blvd bullshit, it turns out this ending is just a nightmare Jada’s having that ends with Killjoy showing up. She awakens screaming in bed next to a horny Jamal who figures the best way to cure his girl’s bad dreams is with a mouthful of beaver, and with a Vera Yell, she cried “MORE! MORE! MORE!”. See what I did there? But when he comes back up from spelunking the meat curtains beneath the sheets, care to guess who he’s turned into? Yep.

And they made three four more of these fucking things?! There is no god.

I mean, there’s a lot of us, clearly, but there’s no god specifically for shitty movie prevention. I put in a dozen requests with H.R. (Human Resources, not Pufnstuf) and they just keep telling me that jars full of internal organs with “DO WHAT I SAY!” etched into them aren’t acceptable requisition forms. Friggin’ office politics.

And so goes the story of Killjoy, Carl Washington’s double rip-off of A Nightmare on Elm Street and It. A movie that can’t even follow the rules it makes up for itself as it goes along. A movie whose plot has more holes than Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur combined. A movie whose dialogue sounds like it was written by a mentally impaired 10 year old who just learned the term “good pussy”. A movie whose villain’s quips couldn’t even make a hyena hopped up on Nitrous Oxide and Red Bull crack a giggle. It’s sad too, because for the most part the cast isn’t horrible, they’re just playing one-dimensional characters and are bogged down further by the shit Washington filled their mouths with. Sick bastard.

Out of this cast of extras from a season of “The Wayans Bros.”, the only one who can’t blame the script for their piss poor performance is Lee Marks. Sure, he’s given some especially harsh lines, but his readings are wooden enough for Nick Offerman to carve a canoe out of. Either Marks didn’t get a chance to practice his lines and this flick was shot in the Roger Corman “one and done” style (which is very likely given some of the flubbed lines and bumbled camera work that were left in) or the guy was hired straight off the casting couch based on his looks, his lacking of acting be damned. Maybe he’s the ugly girl the others keep around to make themselves look hotter by comparison. Only… you know…the thespian version.

Batting 0-2, Killjoy‘s third strike comes at the hands of director Craig Ross, who is just as bad at his job as everyone else is at theirs. Wretched shot composition, miserable efforts to be creative by shooting from a low “pendulum” angle that even first semester film school students wouldn’t waste their time on. The gratingly stupid Superman landing that he has everybody do when they “jump” into Laughing Boy’s urban squalor Purgatory! It all flies as well as Thoth after a 40 oz. of Olde Egyptian 800 BC. That is one man-bird that cannot hold his liquor, malted or otherwise.

To finish out the bingo card, Killjoy‘s soundtrack, cinematography and editing are also dumpster refuse. Specifically that dumpster Willennium Smith kicks open in Men in Black that vomits cockroaches all over the ground. The only thing it’s consistent at is being terrible. Reminds me of the first time a girl went down on me, only with less teeth. If I were to best sum up my feelings for this incompetently cobbled together “Frankenstein’s monster if he were assembled from large pieces of putrid deli meat” via the medium of referential humor to a scene from a culturally relevant comedy movie released in the last 15 years (oddly specific criteria, sure, but just go with it), it would be the Sex Panther fallout scene from Anchorman where an office full of Paul Rudd’s co-workers are driven to odorous agony by his bio-hazardous, nostril napalm cologne. Remember “SMELLS LIKE BIGFOOT’S DICK!”? That was me by the time the end credits hit.

In the spirit of the season, Killjoy is such a gobbler that Turkey Volume Guessing Man gives it 3000 turkeys!

And if you don't get that joke, go back and watch the Riding with Death episode of “MST3K”. It’s magic. How magic? Remember that time Merlin turned his penis into a rainbow spewing dragon to have 6 month long tantric sex with Grendel’s mother so they could give birth to Electric Light Orchestra and raise them to write and perform “Oh Oh Oh It’s Magic”? That episode is MORE magical. 2 Legit.

With that, I leave you to your dinners of mass consumption, my friends and fiends. You know, if USA Thanksgiving is your thing. I’ll be back after the Great Binge for at least one more course of Turkey Day Month before the upcoming glut of end-of-the-year holiday themed nonsense waiting to come crashing down my chimney. No peeking, you pricks, or Anubis Claus will have to hollow out your eye sockets with a hot fire poker!

Moral of the Story: When you’re unarmed and fighting someone swinging a 3′ long Ginsu, maybe don’t defiantly proclaim “Yo ass is MINE!”. Unless you always wondered what it would feel like to have your internal organs shish kabobbed, in which case I recommend eating a big bowl of cherry tomatoes and cocktail onions beforehand. It’s always good to have a balanced, healthy kabob.

And ladies, here’s one for you: don’t ask your man job interview questions post-coitus. He doesn’t wanna hear any of that “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” crap after getting his kumquats juiced.

Screenshots_____


Big City Pictures”? Maybe in about as much as Provo, Utah is technically a big city too, sure.


“You paid how much for this fencing, girl!? I told you, my cousin Shaun is the chain link KING! Tell him we’re friends and he’ll hook you UP!”


“I believe I can FLYYYYYYY! I believe I can touch the SKYYYYYY!”


Hey geniuses, you forget to turn on the rear projector for the driving scene! I’d call you the modern day Notorious B.I.G. (Burt I. Gordon), but you couldn’t even get that right!


“You’re right Lorenzo, there is something blocking your barrel. It looks like a… bullet? … Oh shit.”


His stage name should be Rhythm Method Man, cuz just looking at him is birth control. *rimshot*


Movie immersion breaker #262: Who the hell has sex with the bedspread around their waists like that?!


“Come on B, you gotta help me find my contacts! The insurance company’s gonna raise my rates if I tell ’em I lost another pair of lenses, son!”


I’d make fun of her for picking that robe up at Phyllis Diller’s yard sale, but she looks better in it than the guest star of Boneyard ever did.


“Ugggh. I gotta stop eating out of the dumpster behind that vegan place. Those vegetables and shit give me gas out both ends!”


Note to our readers: Just because you memorized the lyrics to every track on “36 Chambers” and own every VHS in the Wu-Tang Collection reissue set doesn’t mean you’re qualified to swing the hardware!


“Hey kids! Remember krumping? Of course you don’t! No one does! Nor should they! We’re all better off without it!”


Looks like somebody didn’t learn their lesson from Richard Pryor’s example.


“There is a great disturbance in the Circus. We have a new enemy. The young rebel who destroyed our clown car. This boy is the offspring of PT Barnum. Search your feelings. You’ll know it to be true.”


Damn McDonald, your teeth are disgusting and your gums look infected! Time to lay off the Kools and Colt 45s, or the suits upstairs are gonna make McCheese the new face of the franchise!

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Anubis will return next time in
“Napoleon’s Waterloo”

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.

Episode 91 – Phantasm: RaVager (2016)

or “Balls of Fury”

Featuring: Reggie “Phantasm” Bannister , A. Michael “Phantasm” Baldwin , Bill “Phantasm” Thornbury & Angus “Phantasm” Scrimm in his final role

Director: David “Tigger & Pooh and a Musical Too” Hartman

Writers: Don “Phantasm” Coscarelli & David “Channel 101” Hartman

Origin: USA

Sequel to: Phantasm ; Phantasm II ; Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead ; Phantasm: OblIVion

Review_____

“My use for you is at an end. You’re not even real. You’re my bad dream.”

You know those moments when you get your hype up so high that you’re oozing pre-hype, only to have the source of your oozing not just deny you said hype, but hit you in your hype zone with a hammer? Well, join the club. Uggh. Ra5ager is another one of those “I wanted to post this for Halloween, but had to hold off until November (I’m sorry, “NoVember”) because it’s too big a turkey to pardon” movies, like the Rocky Horror re-branding. Unlike the aforementioned botched effort to appeal to Willennials (what with their “gettin’ jiggy” and “big Willie” style), this irredeemable tank of cinematic septic sludge doesn’t even get the excuse of being a network exec’s cash-in fantasy.

Phantasm. Wow. In 1979, writer-director Don Coscarelli unleashed a new flavor in the field of fear when he introduced us to an old man and his balls. Now, in an Adam Sandler movie, that last bit would ravage the mind with horrifying images of a grandpa getting his testicles caught in his zipper, but in the world of Phantasm it’s horrifying for a whole different reason. When Angus Scrimm debuted as the now iconic Tall Man, a generation of horror fans pissed their collective pants. Five years before Freddy was giving teens fear-for-their-lives insomnia, this mammoth mortician was stalking his victims’ nightmares when he wasn’t prowling his mortuary workshop. Unlike other fear mongers, who would inject their terror through masks, He of Above Average Height relied on his everyday “twisted old man” visage, piercing stare and growling, bowel loosening voice to paralyze his enemies. And once they were paralyzed? That’s when he’d whip out his balls.

Said bloodthirsty spheres of steel became some of the most recognized death dealing utensils in horror. Flying through the air, they would chase down their victims, cutting them with their blades, boring into their skulls with power drill extensions, exploding through them at terminal velocities and even scorching them with death rays in later instances. So cool were these airborne murder toys that Anchor Bay release a Region 2 special edition DVD set of the first four flicks, contained in a big plastic replica ball case. My Evil Dead Bride begifted this little pocket universe of fantastic to me. Not only does this make me better than you, but it makes Her better than your significant other. Weep.

In addition to his vile volley of chrome cohorts, this tall glass of terror water (or “Flynt refreshment” as such libation would be known now) had under his wingspan a small army of small monsters. This cadre of diminutive demons were basically zombies that had been shrunken down in a giant food dehydrator then dressed up in robes. Basically Jerky Jawas. Despite the obvious opportunity for endless dwarf tossing jokes, the little beasties were always a source of hideous scares.

Over the course of the previous quartet of movies, Tally antagonized brothers Mike (Baldwin) and Jody (Thornbury) along with their guitar playing ice cream man amigo Reggie (Bannister) until 1998’s OblIVion, which ended on… a weird, Möbius strip type of endless looping…thing.

Though putting the series to bed on that note could’ve been acceptable (though confusing), after 37 years since its initial release we’re finally given the finale to the Phantasm legacy.

If you want a more detailed rundown of the individual movies and the labyrinth that is their cumulative narratives, don't look at me. I'm not Edward James Olmos and this isn't Stand and Deliver. Get your ass to Mars Google! When you get back, we’ll talk about RaVager, which lives up to its nomenclature by doing just that to its lineage. See ya in 2 and 2, Chuck Woolery!

…[Pause for station identification]…

Groovy? Groovy. Let’s get this over with.

Originally conceived in 2008 as a web-only gaiden (aka an internet side-series) that would follow the further adventures of hair-curtain hero Reggie, this concept (and footage) was integrated into Coscarelli’s pre-existing RaVager plot plans circa the turn of the millennium regarding a final battle between our heroes and their nemesis amid the post-Apocalyptic ruins of a disease ravaged (*nudge*nudge*) Earth in which The Tall Man reigned over the crumbling remnants of humanity. I remember Bruce Campbell being included in these original plans, and was sad to eventually learn that he was no longer connected with the project. He would go on to make some magic with Mr. C in Bubba-Ho-Tep, but that’s another tale for another episode.

I’m not 100% on the extent of Dadtasm’s involvement during the final countdown to his brain child’s demise, but I do know that he passed the creative torch on to David Hartman to finish what he himself had started. Why? Well, my hypothesis is thus: Coscarelli was unwinding one day, watching Tigger & Pooh and a Musical Too , when the radiation from a passing meteor bestowed temporary sentience and telekinesis upon a frying pan in his kitchen, providing the cookware with the momentary ability to throw itself at the back of his head, exacting revenge upon its owner for the many times he washed the poor thing with unforgiving Brill-O pads rather then letting it soak in soapy water first, then applying a soft sponge to remove the now loosened debris. Following said cortex rattling collision, Coscarelli returned to consciousness to see Hartman’s name on his TV screen. Feeling this to be a sign, he immediately got in touch with the man, ceding the reins to his purebred metaphorical horse and carrying out the prophecy laid before him.

But I’ve always had an “active imagination”. My parole officer’s been saying that ever since I was 15!

Whatever the case, RaVager returns the washed-up vendor of frozen treats Reggie to us after his altercation with Tally (pronounced like “Tall-E”) at the finale of OblIVion. Emerging in the middle of a desert wasteland with his vaunted double-double barrel shotgun, he discovers his beloved phallic compensater (and series mainstay), the jet black Plymouth Barracuda, not where he left it. Beginning his long self-narrated march down a barren highway in search of the nearest civilization (preferably prior to his death by dehydration), what should he come across, but that very same hot rod, now driven by its new owner (as per the “Finders Keepers” law), an even dumpier and less attractive loser than himself! There’s no explanation as to why the humanoid lung oyster would return to the scene of the crime, how he managed to find the ‘Cuda in the first place, or why he’d stop to pick up a thumb jockey in the middle of nowhere (clearly he’s never seen The Hitcher or heard ANY urban legend EVER), but whatever the reasons, the exchange ends with Reggie recovering his beloved whip and fat boy ending up in the middle of nowhere with nothing but his European-cut man briefs and a big silver sphere drilling into his face. Yep, as the poster for Phantasm II so joyfully declared “The Ball is Back!”

I love that movie. Oh Phantasm V, why can’t you be more like Phantasm II? D’oh.

Where the movie goes from here is, well, the very definition of a clusterfuck. Reggie jumps back and forth between scenarios where he’s driving across country in the “Ooooooo, Barra-Barracuuuuuda!” and being pursued by the occasional ball attack, suffering from dementia in a nursing home where he shares a room with a certain white-haired old man while being visited by Mike and Jody, or battling TM and his army of re-animated soldiers in a bloody red tinted “post-Skynet” world where he joins a group of revolutionaries that includes Mike, a woman named Jane (Dawn Cody) that Reg knows as “Dawn” in one of the other planes, and a pint-sized action hero named Chunk (Stephen Jutras) who’s your typical “I may not be tall enough to get on most carnival rides, but I can single-handed murder a dozen people with a knife!” breed of elite fighting dwarf that movies give us to up their action figure sales.

Though some viewers determined that these reality jumps are just Reggie having bizarre nightmares, in one of their nursing home scenes Mike tells Reggie about Membrane Theory (a.k.a. “M-theory”). Or at least boils it down into a small enough serving to make it edible for both Reg and we laymen in the audience. It’s basically a unifying concept that melds variances of superstring theory together to put out the possibility that our universe is just one of potentially thousands, and these other realities/dimensions are all bundled on top of each other in such a way that energy can pass between the weakened spots where their borders intersect. How does this apply to the movie? It’s never spelled out in big letters for us, but the presumption is that Reggie’s mind or “soul” (or whatever you want to refer to his consciousness as) plays illegal alien and passes between several of these dimensions, inhabiting alternate reality versions of himself (NONE of which have hair and ALL of which saw their careers apex behind the wheel of an ice cream truck) that spend their time fighting the Tall Man, running from him, or just rotting away in a hospital bed.

That’s about the extent to which I’m going to get into the story. Rather than settle on a single plot and map out the trip from point A to point B, we got this multi-reality excuse shoehorned in so Hartman didn’t need to settle on a single story. Even with said safety net setup below him, Hartman still churns out one majorly confused and overly complicated rigmarole of a fable. It’s the proverbial octopus trying to fingerbang a wood block – too many scenarios and nowhere to put ’em. What do you mean you’ve never heard of that proverb? There will be no free rides, no excuses. You already have two strikes against you: your name and your complexion. Because of those two strikes, there are some people in this world who will assume that you know less than you do. “The octopus trying to fingerbang a wood block” is the great equalizer!

Best of luck figuring that one out. Here’s a hint: it’s a callback to earlier in the review. 😉

I’d tell writer Hartman not to quit his day job, but since director Hartman is his day job, I’m going to request he quit both and do something for the betterment of humanity. Like drownee in a charity carnival dunk tank or jizz mopper at the local glory hole.

And what of our cast? Well, Reggie’s still the star of the show. Though his action hero stuff will never be believable, he’s still the best actor of the group. It makes sense why he became the series’s everyman comic relief focal point. Meanwhile, Baldwin and Thornbury seem to have become blander as their parts have become smaller. As for Scrimm? Oh man. Poor Angus. The dearly deceased inter-dimensional undertaker was on his last legs during shooting of his scenes, and it’s impossible not to notice. His face is heavily caked in makeup, his scenes are all smeared with digital haze to try and obscure his raVaged visage, his eyes look tired and the demon of time had long since withered away the Tall Man’s soul searing gaze. He has a handful of scenes with Reggie, where he cryptically refers to their roles in this grand scheme of things, but the poor guy couldn’t muster even an ounce of the terror he gave us in ’98, let alone in ’79. This isn’t how I wanted to remember Angus Scrimm, just like RaVager isn’t how I wanted to remember Phantasm. Uggh. Life is an unending march through the avenues and alleyways of suffering. Such is what happens when you let Pinhead plan your parade route. That guy’s such a prick. *rimshot*

Now, how about the visual effects? Unlike those car wrecks that people are always saying they can’t look away from (morbid fucks), RaVager is a car wreck you should look away from. Not just because doing so is insensitive to the victims, but because one of the drivers is Medusa and the other is Cthulhu, and if you make eye contact with either one, you’re fucked. By that convoluted metaphor, I mean to say that this movie is a visual mess. The digital format it was shot in makes it look like a crap-ass direct-to-video flick you’d find on the “New Releases” wall at Blockbuster 15 years ago. Back before NetFlix and RedBox ruined the video store experience and made the 13 membership cards in my wallet into useless plastic rectangles. You know what else looks like it’s a relic from the ’90s? The CG effects! Holy Helheim. As if I wasn’t having a hard enough time getting through this unadulterated gauntlet of shin-high spanking machines, I finally came across the point where my mind splintered. Not in the way that it physically broke into shards, but more in the way that Mrs. Menard’s eyeball was splintered in Zombie.

The CG is so hard to look at, I’d rather watch a baby put through a punch press. I understand budgetary constraints, but the stuff we get shafted with here was ugly 10 years ago, let alone by 2016 standards. The awkward attempts to splice these outdated digital effects with stock footage of riots and helicopters and skyscraper demolitions are heartbreaking. And it doesn’t stop there. Driving the splinter further into my cerebral cortex? During the climactic final conflict between our heroes and The Tall Man in his hellish home dimension, (a battle so poorly executed that I wish I could go on a three page tirade about it, spoilers be damned!) Mr. Scrimm is replaced by spliced footage of his younger self, awkwardly mugging his eyebrows up for the camera while not moving his lips at all (old test footage, perhaps?), excusing the piss poor paste job by having Tally speak to his opponents WITH HIS MIND… Really?! As if that wasn’t cheesy enough, said footage makes the man monster look flat, while everyone else in the scene clearly has that all important third dimension the bad guy lacks. I’m not a whore for high-grade graphics, I get that nothing will ever look as flawless as Jurassic Park did, but this garbage came close to shoving me into the malicious arms of an anxiety attack.

For Fenris’ sake, you know what RaVager reminds me of, now that I think about it? The way everything is so amateurish? The pitiably developed story? The lazy camera work? The cheap gore? It looks and feels like a fucking FAN FILM! It should’ve been titled Fantasm and sold as bootleg-only DVDs at dirt mall comic stores and hotel horror conventions! It would’ve been the perfect way to excuse Coscarelli not directing it, and it would’ve given the movie a Tower of Pisa level of leniency! I might have actually enjoyed it somewhat if that were how it had been presented! Son of a three-headed bitch! Leave it to me to pan some sliver of gold from a gurgling septic tank.

Why, why, WHY couldn’t David Hartman have been the Hartman killed by his crazy wife in 1998 (the year I’d swear these in-no-way-special effects came from) instead of Phil Hartman!? Phil Hartman brought us all so much joy and inspiration! “Newsradio” was one of my favorite sitcoms! David Hartman brings me nothing but disappointment. A disappointment that I’m sure extends to his family. There’s a Phil Hartman shaped hole in my soul that can never be filled, but there’s a David Hartman shaped hole in a New Jersey landfill that should be!

Okay, that’s a bit much. I shouldn’t be calling for someone’s head just because they exhumed a series better left dead, pissed all over it, then buried it upside down out of disrespect and built a pet shop on top of it. Maybe we should just have Rawhead Rex baptize D-Hart and let that be it. Truth be told, I’m not even a major mark for the Phantasm series. My dad was always a way bigger follower of it than I was. But even as a slightly-more-than-casual observer of the Misadventures of Bomb Pop Reggie and the Brothers Pearson, RaVager is the worst instance of someone disgracing a franchise beloved by others since that video I sent my ex-girlfriend, in which I gave her The Lord of the Rings trilogy DVDs a Cleveland Steamer. That’s what happens when you kidnap one of my Re-Animator t-shirts, EDNA!

I’m just kidding!…partly. Which part? Only the court documents know for sure.

I didn’t cry when I’d heard Angus Scrimm had died, but I cried after RaVager. Wait, did I say I “cried”? I meant I “fell face first down a twenty-story spiral staircase of cinemasochism that left me questioning if there was anything good or decent left in the world”. This abomination should never have happened. I was overcome by the urge to induce vomiting in an effort to evacuate this poison from my system. Sadly, there is no such thing as mental ipecac, so can somebody PLEASE do me a solid and Eternal Sunshine the shit out of me on this one? It can be my Cthulhumas gift for the year!

And there you have it, Phan-boys and Phan-girls. Gobble gobble in agony, because you’re Glenn/Abraham, David Hartman is Negan, and RaVager is Lucille. *SPLAT* I can’t believe I’m typing this, but I think we would’ve received a better movie if Syfy had bought the rights to it and tossed it in The Asylum’s food dish. Uggh, despite standing behind my statement, I feel so dirty for having made it. Look what you made me do, David fucking Hartman!

I’m gonna buck my usual credo and give you a spoiler as far as how one of the alternate realities ends – Reggie dies of some manner of degenerative disease. It’s appropriate too, since this movie doesn’t allow the series to go out with a bang or even peacefully in its sleep. Instead, it rots away with franchise cancer. R.I.P.

And Hartman? As Jon Stewart (the comedian, not the Green Lantern) once said, “You will always be judged by your worst elements”. Consider this your judgment. Welcome to the enemies list.

Moral of the Story: When the only thing standing between you and a pair of Gatling guns is two bad guys, have no fear! As long as you’re the hero(es), you might as well have skin like Luke Cage, because you’re not taking a scratch! Oh, and if your movie calls for digital effects and has a climax that requires extensive green screen work, don’t hire some chumpsteak(s) off of Craigslist to do the job.

Screenshots_____


After-school rush hours get real nasty real quick. That’s why I had to get out of the mobile frozen treats business!


Hey, it’s 1990s Tall Man! And he brought Member Berries with him! Member the old Phantasm movies? Yeah, I member.


“There’s only room for one lovable loser on this cast, and it’s the one holding the gun! Hit the bricks!”


Yeah, this is a pretty accurate representation of how fans feel once RaVager is over.


“So… why the FUCK are we doing this stupid movie again?! Oh, right, the paychecks. Got it.”


“Sorry, old man, but I’m the only female character in this series who doesn’t have some repressed urge to want to bang her grandpa, so keep it your pants.”


Geraldo Rivera reveals to the world, “The Secrets of Charlton Heston’s Trunk”!
(It’s pretty much exactly what you expected)


Hold on a minute! In a previous movie we were shown that the balls are each powered by a human brain. What the fuck is in THAT thing?! Are there several thousand brains all working as a colony, or did Tall Man harvest GODZILLA’s brain!? Stupid stupid movie!


“Good news Reggie! I pulled a few strings and, despite that whole sorted “killed a hooker” thing, I got you into Heaven! Welcome aboard!”


Wow! That little boy’s Negan costume is AMAZING! Way to go, kiddo.


Tally tried to make his global takeover more marketable with limited edition Christmas themed murder balls. ‘Tis the season!


Wow, it finally happened. There’s finally a movie that makes me wish I was watching The Matrix Revolutions. You blew it up! Damn you! Damn you all to Hell!


See kids, this is why Uncle Anubis always tells you to never look directly at a masturbating T-1000. “Save your eyes; don’t look between its thighs!”


Phantasm finally turned into that Vigilante 8 movie adaptation I always wanted!


“Hey folks. Remember me? I was Rocky in Phantasm III. I have no clue why I was brought back to shoot a single scene for this movie, but here I am. Well… bye!”


“Made in America”, eh? You know what else shares that distinction? The KKK, nuclear weapons, and 3 Doors Down! But congrats, RaVager, for proving to us that America is capable of creating something even WORSE than the 2016 election.

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Anubis will return next time in
“Homey Don’t Play That”

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