Featuring: John “Napoleon Dynamite” Heder , Krysten “‘Jessica Jones’” Ritter , Josh “Frozen” Gad
Director: Tim “Correcting Christmas” O’Donell
Writers: John “Zombie Nightmare” Fasano
A pleasant post-‘Giving to you, maladies and not-so-gentle men. Today’s movie is the finale to Turkey Day Month 2016. Call it the dessert, if you will. We all know that pumpkin pie is the traditional after-dinner dish for the celebration, but Woke Up Dead is a new spin on an old favorite – the blumpkin pie. Instead of strait pumpkin pie filling, the blumpkin (sorry, “president-elect blumpkin”)’s filling is cut 50/50 with fresh diarrhea from a dysentery infected water buffalo, the crust is made with shredded cardboard soaked in dumpster water, while the cream topping isn’t dairy-based, but instead fresh lemur semen whipped in a men’s room toilet. The more pungent the lemur the better!
With that lovely image in mind, you are now adequately prepared for a slice of Woke Up Dead. Bone ape-tit!
If you’re anything like me, you’ve no doubt asked yourself at some point in your life, “Whatever happened to John Fasano?”. Well, as of 2014, the writer/director of such lynch pins in the history of film as Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare and Zombie Nightmare ain’t doin’ shit. Why? You may wanna sit down for this, because it turns out Mr. Fasano… well… you see…
Yep. Sadly enough, the man who helped introduced cinemasochists to the Velveeta geyser that is Jon Mikl Thor the actor (as opposed to the musician, for whom I cannot speak) is a few calendars removed from this mortal realm. Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare was truly a legacy to be proud of though, at least around here, because as someone who’s seen enough terrible movies to choke a Humpback, RnRN was one of the stupidest, ugliest, chodiest (yes, that’s a word… now) fucking movies I’ve EVER seen. But in a good way. Kind of. Or maybe I just have Stockholm Syndrome… or was that The Stendhal Syndrome? Fuck it. Either way, John Fasano’s worm food.
3 years prior to his passing, JF joined forces with the director of ‘Shasta McNasty’ (if you don’t know what those words mean, allow me to be your Rosetta Stone – “Do Not Watch This”) to give the zombie movie genre one final mental curb stomp in the shape of Woke Up Dead – a so-called movie that’s actually just the collected volumes of a web series of 22 4-ish minute episodes released over the month of October 2009 via Sony’s free video streaming service, Crackle.
Remember them? The service that later brought us those luster lacking Dead Rising movies? Indeed.
My decision to review this particular living dead waste of time is born of yet another of those obnoxious clickbait links littering your favorite websites. Not a “celebrities you didn’t know committed suicide!” list (which always seem to use a pic of the still-alive Jonathan Taylor Thomas), but one of those “Find out why no one in Hollywood will hire ______ anymore!” articles. The one in question promised to blow the roof off of the supposed backlot blacklisting of Napoleon Dynamite star Jon Heder. There was no need to waste precious minutes reading it though, since the day before I had made the mistake of watching Woke Up Dead. And as Gruncle Stan would say, “that just put me 90 minutes closer to death”.
I came across WUD while wandering aimlessly through the entertainment desert of free online streaming content mentioned above (Crackle, in case your short-term memory makes Verne Troyer look like Andre the Giant). Desperate for even the smallest drop of refreshment, my dried and cracked (yes, “cracked”) eyes came upon this pile of festering entrails soaked in beer farts pretending to be a movie. My “never ends well for me” curiosity was drawn in by Jon Heder (one of the most one-hit of one-hit wonders of the Willennium), while my Cialis fueled side locked onto Krysten Ritter: the televisual siren who first caught my eye in ‘Breaking Bad’, caught the other during ‘Don’t Trust the B(itch) In Apt 23’ and has held both of said oculars right up to ‘Jessica Jones’. This wouldn’t be the first time my lusty eyes have gotten me into trouble, nor will it be my last. At least until I can get some of those ritzy bionic eye implants. I’m just saving soda cans until I have enough to afford one of the x-ray vision models and another that comes with a death ray!
show movie also stars semi-sought after offense-to-the-senses (and current thrall to the House of Mouse) Josh Gad as the comedy relief (a fraud deserving of litigation) and features “voted most likely in high school to be mistaken for Josh Gad’s biological father” Wayne Knight as a cubicle bound clone of his ‘Seinfeld’ nuisance, Newman. By the end of the movie (if you make it that far), you’ll agree that a face full of genetically engineered dinosaur venom couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy! Except Josh Gad. Speaking of, I’ll do my best to get us through this review like crap through a goose, but I make no legally binding promises, so leave your lawyers at home.
FINE! One morning, during his self-professed aimless life of meandering nothingness, our protagonist-to-be Drexel (Heder) is hit by a bus. He was likely distracted by concerns that the knock-off of REM's “The One I Love” he was listening to on his iPod was going to result in the production getting sued. Though killed in the exchange (as one often is when struck by a speeding bus), Drex wakes up later that day on the examining table of “attractive but not intimidatingly so” coroner Cassie (Ritter), just as she's about to perform his autopsy. You might think this to be fortunate for the lanky wanker, but given the molestery things that all who handle dead bodies on a daily basis get up to when alone with their work (didn't know Nekromantik was a documentary?), had D-Rex waited 10 more minutes he could’ve been hilt deep in Jessica fucking Jones! Too bad, boy-o. You botched living out one of my (wet) dreams. “To be dead?” Well, you’re leaving out the most important part (being ridden by Ritter – and I don’t mean John!), but sure! It wouldn’t even be the first time a woman wanted to jump my postmortem member (true story!), so don’t act so surprised.
A quick and “only in TV Land” conversation reveals that the pair coincidentally went to school together, but as with any scholastic peer relationship Cass has zero recollection of him while Drex is probably still soiling his favorite crunchy sock with the occasional memory of her when he wakes up in the morning. Drex-n-Effect then goes into a recap of the presumed pilot episode, chronicling the prior night’s events. He and his “can I uppercut this chode into a herd of stampeding bulls for my birthday?” roommate Matt (Gad) were attending a party in Southern Cali along with Drex’s girlfriend Debbie (Taryn Southern, who was born in Kansas and thus isn’t even southern!). While Dingus McPunchFace spent the evening trying to get college girls to flash their chesticles for his digital camera (ah, the charmingly obsolete technology of 2009), ‘Rexel (“Rectal”?) opted to exit stage left due to a knockin’ noggin. Seeking out his lady so they could hit the bricks, our leading man instead walked in on Debbie doing Dallas (not his actual name, but go with it) in a random bedroom. While he sat there whining in cuck mode, Matt attempted interjecting himself into the proceedings in an amateur porn effort. Do you understand now why I’d sooner see this sack of burning hair in a human suit drawn and quartered than sit through even 5 more minutes of his hippotwatamus antics?!
My violent daydreams not withstanding, Drex bemoans his Excedrin Headache #69 and the beach bum knuckles deep in his dream girl shows us he’s a cool guy by giving our
hero zero a gel tab of unknown origin to kill the pain. More upset about his migraine than his manhood (SLC Punk‘s Stevo he is not), ‘Rex popped the presumed pharmaceutical before retreating home to sleep it off. He awoke later doing his best Whitney Houston impression in a full bathtub, only to find Shatt video eulogizing his presumably drowned (and presumably nekkid) body. Asking why his guy-who-looks-as-if-he-smells-of-unwashed-feet-and-canned-cheese roommate was recording him rather than trying to revive him, Uggo Von Porkpie replies that Drexed ‘Em Damn Near Killed ‘Em was submerged well past the point of human lung capacity and beyond the aid of any medical practitioner that isn’t Baron Samedi.
“Ooo eee ooo ah ah ting tang walla walla bing bang!”
Having “woke up dead” (a term we’ll hear a dozen more times before this is over), Drex is now a zombie, presumably due to the mysterious pill he ingested the night before. Then the bus hit him, which brings us up to speed. Intrigued by the opportunity to diagnose Drex’s heretofore unknown undead condition (and the fortune and fame that would come with it), Cassie injects herself into the geeky ghoul’s day-to-day, which he sees as the perfect chance to get his very own love interest now that Debbie’s back in the singles scene. As for Matt, he puts his dollar store Girls Gone Wild dreams on hold to catalog his friend’s new life as a living dead dork…so he can post the whole thing online and wrangle the reality TV rights. How has someone seriously not pushed this irredeemable pud tugger down a set of stairs by now?! The character has zilch in the integrity, empathy AND human decency departments, and there’s NOTHING he does for the rest of the series/movie to swerve us with a surprise showing of the opposite! The closest he gets to what Fasano probably mistook as a sympathetic character moment is whining to Drex later about how exploiting his supposed friend is the closest he’s ever come to getting a paycheck for making his idiotic videos! So, until this point he’s failed to make a career out of harassing people with his camera and we’re supposed to feel sorry for the disgusting little sociopath?! You know what makes this bullshit scene all the worse? That Drexel falls for it! How does showing us that our supposed hero is an easily manipulated dipstick make him in anyway endearing? How are we supposed to champion this simpleton when he’s ready to throw himself off of a building just to enable his shitbag associate to continue being a self-centered prick that abuses their relationship for financial gain with zero consideration for his friend/victim?!
In another poorly conceived “only in TV Land” cosmic coincidence, this is the exact time in his life when Drexel picks up a job doing data entry for the public records people. This access to LA’s master database of all things pertinent really comes in useful when the Three Muskatards need help tracking down leads later on, like the amateur pharmacist who gave Drex the mystery pill (turns out it was just an ibuprofen) or the further mysterious mystery of mysteriousness that is an unidentified source sending instant messages to Drex via his work computer, making thinly veiled references to his new status as a Zombie-American. That last one is never solved, by the way, as the show runners were a bit more keen on making a second season than, well, everyone else on the planet. Unfortunately, this new area of employment also introduces us to the humanoid infection known as Andrew (Knight), who shores up the “pelt the audience with an incessant amount of annoying fat guys in glasses” factor when Matt isn’t around. Constantly harassing Drex or scheming to get the new guy fired, Andy’s the physical manifestation of that really wet cough your one co-worker who’s always sick brings to work with them. He’s irritating, discomforting, and you just know that the longer you’re exposed to him, the more likely your immediate future is going to become miserable.
As the hi-jinks stumble along (with needless flashbacks to events that occurred just 10 minutes earlier being awkwardly jumbled in with them), Drexel’s progression into ghoulhood includes an inability to feel pain, an uncanny healing prowess (he can smash his fingers in a door and just pop them back into position like nothing happened or throw himself off of a building with nary so much as a limp after), enhanced speed and reflexes, heightened senses, an inefficacious digestive system that won’t allow him to hold down anything but animal brains, and the nauseating delusional power to believe that someone like Cass would be into a wretched sloth like Matt perving on her by incessantly trying to record footage of her lack of hinder and even more malnourished cleavage.
To anyone who knows me that would like to point out my own illicit interactions with members of the female species as the catalyst of perversion everyone knows me to be, mine are done in a harmless way that includes timing, wit, charm, compliments, and a familiarity that two people who know each other well enough can share without either party being uncomfortable and/or offended. On the rare occasion that my filthy aggression is unwanted, I cease and desist. Oh, and I also don’t follow them around with a camera bugging them to get their tits out under the erroneous erogenous objective of self-profit. I only request such intimate displays in payment for similar services rendered and personal perusal on nights where I’m too caffeinated to sleep.
For anyone who isn’t fond of my little personal sidebars such as the one that just happened, I needed an excuse to get away from talking about Woke Up Dead for a few sentences, otherwise I’d be putting myself as an escalated risk for a brain hemorrhage. It’s hard enough to keep my thoughts from turning into a broken kaleidoscope without adding a physical impairment atop the preexisting mental ones! Okay. With my little cognitive coffee break accounted for, shall we get back to the daunting task at hand? As much as I’d like to say no, I’d hate to leave the episode unfinished. You’re welcome…or I’m sorry? Not important. Sally forth!
The longer this goes on, the less Drexel’s condition sounds like zombism and more like a Sony exec’s “suggestion” that the show try to appeal to both zombie fans and superhero fans. Or maybe just long-term Highlander fans who miss following the exploits of a male lead whose death leads to his discovery that he’s an immortal? Either way, this whole scenario is a clusterfuck that will leave you wondering why it was made in the first place, but leave you 100% sure as to why there was never a 2nd season. The chance of it becoming a cult classic whose die hard supporters (let’s call these non-existent people “Wakers”… and it’s no accident that it’s one letter away from “Wankers”) put together a campaign to demand a follow-up carries as much likelihood as Santa Claus riding a flaming meteorite into the White House and emerging from ground zero as our new holly jolly dictator-for-life.
When he overhears M and C making fun of him one day as the pair riff on Zombie Nightmare, the already down on himself Drex decides to track down the unknown IMer on his own, putting himself in danger for reasons I’m not willing to go back and watch it a third time to verify. His lone wolf act ultimately leads nowhere when the power of friendship ends up reuniting the trio (remember, 5 minute episodes and all that) and leads to the discovery of another undeader named Aurora (Meital Dohan). An evocatively dressed blonde who sounds like she was brought here C.O.D. from an unnamed country in Eastern Europe (her accent rakes my fucking brain), ‘Rora has taken the bad girl route with her new talents and set herself down a path of super speed jewelry store heists. Well, she had a criminal record before her transformation, but now she can actually get away with it.
She educates our lead lad on how to dodge bullets (only a decade behind the bullet-time craze) and shows him that barely-food like hot dogs can serve as an alternative way to sate his brain hunger. He could probably spend the rest of his life eating pink slime and sucking the congealed slime out of cans of Vienna sausages, but I’d rather opt for a steady diet of gray matter, were I him. Not just a trailer park hooker-with-a-heart-of-tin-foil, Aurora’s primary goal in all this is to seduce Drex into being her new accomplice. Meanwhile, he counters by trying to convince her to detour down the straight and narrow, offering to break into his job and set her up with a new identity, relieving her of her employment disqualifying past. Your classic Batman/Catwoman or Spider-Man/Black Cat relationship, destined to end with both resenting the other for trying to change them and each going their own way faster than Fleetwood Mac (N Cheese).
Cassie gets jealous when D starts to ignore his pals (just like most people do when they start getting their private parts poked at by someone new), clearly setting the stage for an intended hook-up betwixt the two in the never-to-be season la deuce. Lucky for her that the inevitable break-up occurs when Drex tricks ‘Ro-ro into breaking into his data entry job for his identity reassignment plan and the two come to the conclusion that they’re better off apart. The most notable moment of this scene? Super Melania opens a locked door by simply smashing its security card reader.
I wonder why other criminals never thought to do that? Oh wait…
Having overcome the sexually charged temptations of evil
Uhm, yes. Evil. As I was saying, having proven himself a tool of positive moral character, Drexel decides to take the Uncle Ben stance of using his great powers with great responsibility and takes a personal vow of heroism. The first step of his new life as a good doer? Threatening to murder Andy if he doesn't stop being a dickhead. Granted, it's a bit more Frank Castle than Peter Parker, but even Batman had to kill a few guys before taking on a life of non-lethal vigilantism! Don't believe me? Look it up! Pointy ears started off his crime-fighting career breaking necks, strangling people, throwing others from fatal heights, tossing one guy into a vat of acid and, in complete diametric opposition of the character he would become, gunning down goons in cold blood left and right! He made Dirty Harry look like Hanukkah Harry!
After putting the poopies into Andrew’s Underoos, Dre returns home to have his newly throbbing shaft of blue steel confidence pummeled into flaccid submission when he finds his mother Maryl (Jean Smart) waiting for him. In typical sitcom form, mom’s a mega bitch who neglected ‘Rex for most of his upbringing and forced him to eat purple sandwiches… it’s a long story that goes nowhere, so don’t ask. She’s just here to drop some last minute cliffhanger bullshit about her connection to what’s really behind her son’s recent case of post life super puberty. Something about a cult she and her husband were members of in the ’70s-’80s called The Sleepers whose intention was to unlock humanity’s true potential through some pothead Altered States hippie shit. While we leave our main cast to stare at each other with mouths agape in anticipation for answers that were never meant to be revealed (and that were probably never written in the first place), elsewhere we discover that Aurora’s been working this whole time with an Army Intelligence doofus who’s not only been shadowing Drex since his Quickening (and who I didn’t mention until now because who cares), but has been keeping tabs on an entire apparent collective of “Woken”.
Which may or may not mean the same thing as whatever the current definition of “woke” is. I lost my +1 invite into the black community and forgot the secret handshake, so I’m just staying out of the whole “fine line between allyship and appropriation” debate. I get enough dirty looks for being a white boy who bitches about movies under the alias of the blackest member of the Egyptian pantheon as it is. However, once president-elect blumpkin ignites American Civil War II, I will gladly scalp as many crackers of their confederate flag bandannas as needed to prove which side I’m on.
Movies/shows like Woke Up Dead are so painful to watch that they take time off of my life. Literally. I have one of those arm band debit card dealies like Justin Timberlake had in In Time and every time I watch something this horrible, my lifeforce account takes a mule kick to its figurative asshole. Not even the cheeks, but square in the sphincter itself! Think nothing could be worse than being part of a human centipede? Try again. Even if you feel like you’re starting to get used to WUD, it shows there are still kidney shivving levels of awful through which it will drag you further. Just when you start to sympathize with Andy Dufresne’s cramped septic tunnel crawl, you see you’re only half way through the runtime and realize that the final 200 yards of said pipe are lined with a whole lotta barbed wire and broken glass for no apparent reason! I’d like to say I came out of the end credits with the same roar of defiant victory demonstrated by Gale during his own penitentiary exodus in Raising Arizona, but I did not. I was laid out bare, beaten, empty and exhausted. Nearly broken if not for the stubborn anger that has long since turned my heart into concrete and my spirit into Kevlar.
I reviled this epic instance of entertainment incompetence, but the flames of my rage were snuffed out every time I attempted to put any effort into writing this review. For Turkie’s sake, any thanks that I gave for this year’s annual giving of meal (of which there were very few) must now be rescinded, not just because this exists, but because the Herculean task of forcing my fingers to transcribe these words has, again, stolen precious time from my life that could have been spent doing useful things like banging my shins repeatedly against the coffee table or trying to talk sense into people who refute science in favor of archaic dogmatic verses while doing so on their fucking smart phone. Strike 15,827 for the human race. But you’ve been there for all of my gripes already, so let’s get downright heretical and spend the rest of this episode taking the show/movie’s creator to task!
If John Fasano were a John Cusack movie, he’d be Better Off Dead, because barring me making a descent into the Ninth Circle (he’s there for the treachery of presenting this to viewers as being about zombies and being funny), his passing means he gets to avoid my justified wrath for giving us the most grossly humorless “comedy” endeavor since whatever the Hel Adam Sandler’s been putting on NetFlix. Would that I could voodoo the departed Mr. Fasano’s carcass back to unlife, tie him to a chair, then set his feet on fire and watch him suffer for his crimes. Had he a grave Cerberus and I could piss napalm on, we would. Daily. For the rest of my life. 16 months, give or take.
And for anyone who thinks it uncouth to shit talk the deceased, get over it. The dead don’t care if you speak ill of them. They’re DEAD. Have you ever been to a séance where the phantasm tells Mark to stop talking trash about them now that they’re gone? No. It’s always “I must remain in limbo until you gather my scattered remains and bury them on the consecrated grounds of my ancestors!” or “TOM STEWART KILLED ME!”. As such, fuck you Fasano. Rock n Roll Nightmare and Zombie Nightmare were garbage, but at least they were the kind of garbage you can play in and have fun with. Woke Up Dead is just a swimming pool full of used hypodermic needles. HIV infected needles. HIV isn’t funny. You know what else isn’t? Woke Up Dead. It’s appropriate that your heart failed you, John, because you failed everybody who’s ever made the mistake to choke down this tripe. Keep my seat in Hel warm for me, you soul patch sporting douche pipe, because you’re in for an eternity of Indian Burns!
By the way, apologies to anyone who knew John personally and read the above paragraphs. Their malice was most assuredly intended, but not toward you or your feelings for the guy. Given the crap he created, I imagine that the late Mr. F was aware of how terrible his movies were and was hopefully the type to roll with the punches and, perhaps, even would have embraced the effort and cadence with which I figuratively painted his face with my scrotum during this review. From my experiences, most makers of the movies bemoaned in The Tomb actually end up appreciating the reviews despite the oft times extremely negative connotations, so hopefully he would’ve been counted among them. If anyone makes it a point to collect call him from beyond the grave in one of those aforementioned Ouija dalliances though, I’d love to get his reaction!
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve still got approximately 15lbs of leftovers taking up much needed real estate in my Frigidaire right now just waiting in line for their spot on the roller coaster that is my digestive tract. Join me next time when a certain costumed fat man with a penchant for boys sitting on his lap stops by for some seasonal cheer! Until then, consider this TTFN*!
(*Ta-Ta, Fuck Nose)
You mean like one of those farms where they breed chinchillas, then send 30k volts up their asses to kill them so they can be harvested for their fur? In that case, very fitting name.
Miss Ritter made the same face when I showed her the “I ❤ K R” design I'd shaved my pubes into for her birthday. I don't think she liked it.
A shot from Heder’s Aquaman audition for Warner Bros. They said no because he could only hold his breath for 7 seconds and has the body of Jimmy Olson, but they let him try anyway for laughs.
A disturbing shower situation that I’m sure Grandma Gad has had to reprimand Josh for several times over the years.
The true story behind that time Heder told his Twitter followers to pray for his “girlfriend” because she’d been in a horrible accident.
At least co-workers’ brains are healthier than the room temperature can of Chef Boyardee ravioli he usually has for his lunch break.
I’m pretty sure Wayne Knight’s never eaten an apple that wasn’t candied or drown in sugar and baked into a pastry of some kind.
“I never get tired of my old Andrew Dice Clay tapes! ‘Bada boom’! Hahahaha!”
From Gad’s tryout tape for the Blair With Project sequel. Not only did he not get that role, but it couldn’t even get him a cameo in Scary Movie V years later.
“Don’t ask me! I don’t know how I manage to keep getting paying jobs either!”
“Looks like Mel Gibson’s back on the bottle. Such a shame… Make sure you get everything nice and clear so we can really squeeze TMZ for this one!”
“Don’t worry about money, honey. I didn’t care for Napoleon Dynamite, but after tonight I’ll have been entered by all three stars of The Benchwarmers! It’s my FAVORITE movie!”
The manager at A&W asked her to bring her resume with her for the job interview. Instead she said “Here’s my resume”, pulled a hot dog out of her purse and started doing that. She didn’t get the job.
Alternate joke: She’s gonna need a lot more training if she hopes to stand a chance at next year’s Nathan’s July 4th contest.
Drexel finally gives up trying to scan Andy’s head at work and resorts to the good ol’ fashioned way. And boy was he bursting with fruit flavor! And here I thought everyone around the office called him “Gusher” for a more sexually nauseating reason.
“A Kickstarter for a ‘Designing Women’ sequel movie? I’ve told you a hundred times, Josh – NO. Remember what my lawyer said would happen if you didn’t stop bothering me about this? As far as I’m concerned, Charlize Stillfield is dead and she’s never coming back!”
Anubis will return next time in
“Pogo’s Big Adventure”
Featuring: Michael Jai “Spawn” White , Salli “I Am Legend” Richardson-Whitfield , Tommy “In Living Color” Davidson
Director: Scott “Thick as Thieves” Sanders
Writers: Michael Jai “Three Bullets” White , Scott “Thick as Thieves” Sanders , Byron “BULLHORN!” Minns
“How many times have I told you not to call me here and interrupt my KUNG-FU?!”
*The Tomb of Anubis is typed in front of a prerecord studio audience laugh track*
DISCLAIMER: The following review contains uses of racial slurs that are in no way used in a racist fashion. I am not a racist, as I hate people based on their choices and alignments in life. I do not discriminate based on how someone was born, either in their sex, sexuality, skin color, or other genetic factors. These slurs are used not in a hateful format, but in ways to match both the tone of the movie being reviewed and also to address the racist tendencies of others. In other words, if certain words make you uncomfortable, try to mentally censor them as “the ‘n’ word” or whatever makes you feel better rather than sending me hate mail that will be ignored anyway. Thank you.
Black History Month is very divisive. On the one hand, you’ve got racists and equalists who question why black people should get their own dedicated month while white people go unrecognized… hey, dipshits, white history doesn’t get its own month because white history is already celebrated YEAR ROUND – it’s called “History” and it’s taught in 100% of American schools. Maybe you should’ve stayed in yours if you had such a hard-on for honky historia. Twats.
On the other end of the argument, you have those who take offense to February being chosen for Black History Month, because it’s the shortest month of the year, and somehow being denied 2 days (1 on leap years) minimizes the importance of the event… yes, there are people who ACTUALLY take issue on this topic. “Not only does Hispanic History Month get a full 30 days, but it spans September AND October!? What the fuck is that shit about! White people just trying to keep ’em happy so their landscaping costs don’t go up!”. That was an actual quote from a black guy I knew once. Don’t ask who he is, you don’t know him. Stop thinking all black people know each other. That’s racist.
Speaking of divisive black subjects, today’s episode is an homage to/parody of Blaxploitation. For those not in the know of what you should be, Blaxploitation is a style of exploitation movie made popular in the ’70s where the heroes were all strong, cool, bad-ass African-American men and women who fought to save themselves and their communities from the oppression and corruption of rich old white guys and their Uncle Tom lackeys… often with incredibly low production values and actors so green that I’m pretty sure they hired actual hookers, pimps, and hustlers to fill many of the roles. Though many applauded these less-than-fine films for putting those of color front and center while demonizing Whitey as the source of all evil in the world (which he tends to be), there were still plenty of detractors from the black population who didn’t appreciate these movies being made BY old white guys who were only in it for the cash-in, not to give their colored brothers and sisters a fair voice in Tinseltown. A lot of these same detractors REALLY didn’t appreciate that Hollywood was basically just replacing their long time caricatures of fat lipped, nappy-haired, watermelon munching niggers with new afro sporting, pimp coated, whore slapping, malt liquor chugging coon stereotypes. Same old racism, just with a new coat of fried chicken paint to try and appeal to black markets. In capitalism, the only color that matters is green… and sometimes the search for it brings out how truly ignorant the people in charge are.
You can learn more about Blaxploitation movies at your local library! Just go up the librarian, put out your pimp hand, demand that he/she “Lay down some TRUTH!”, and if they don’t immediately put What it Is… What it Was! in your hand, slap that motherfucker silly until they get the message!
Whether you love ’em (like Shaft) or hate ’em (like Jive Turkey), for better or worse Blaxploitation is a benchmark in black history. In honor of that (and since the new site’s reviews only span movies of the current millennium), I considered reviewing Baadasssss! – Mario Van Peebles’ bio-pic/dedication to the genre and the movie that started it, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, starring his poppa Melvin. But, Black Dynamite‘s got Miguel Nunez in it. Miguel Nunez was Spider in Return of the Living Dead. Return of the Living Dead is my favorite zombie movie and Spider was the fucking coolest guy in said movie. Ergo, this complicated math equation’s result = Black Dynamite gets the spot. Maybe next year, Mario. And yes, I’m aware Miguel also starred in Juwana Man, but that’s just a testament to how fantastic he was as Spider. Ergo, shut up.
Black Dynamite (Michael Jai White) isn’t just our title, it’s also our hero’s name. BD (because it’ll save my fingers from having to type “Black” or “Dynamite” for the rest of this review) is harder than a petrified redwood and smoother than one of your momma’s milkshakes. He’s all four heroes of One Down, Two to Go rolled into one with a pinch of Dolemite on top. He’s a veteran of ‘Nam (“and all the dead Chinamen we left in our tracks”), a former agent for the CIA, and a lover of ladies all sizes and colors. Hell, the first time we meet him he’s running a reverse gangbang on a veritable Benaton ad’s worth of cumly coital cuddlers all shades of the racial rainbow! And, as was the style of his cinematic brothers of the time, BD is a practitioner of the deadly martial arts of Ghetto-Fu, crackin’ cracker skulls with his nunchucks of class warfaring black rage! He takes no shit, whether from pimps, pushers, hustlers, punks, thugs, government goons, ninjas, or the oldest of old ladies! He’s blacker than the ace of spades (yeah, that just put Lemmy into my head too), and more militant than your WHOLE damn army!… of course, it’s a lot easier to beat up the bad guys when they stick to the movie trope of only attacking the hero one-at-a-time rather than swarming him with their overwhelming numbers… Anyway, BD is basically the extreme amalgamation of Blaxploitation protagonists you’d expect from a ramped up slapstick parody such as this.
When BD’s little bro Jimmy, a former heroin addict, ends up dead in a drug deal gone further south than Br’er Rabbit, their aunt makes it none too subtle a point to remind BD that he promised their momma on her death bed that he’d take care of diminutive sibling James. Looks like getting Jimmy clean and off of la cheval wasn’t enough though, cuz now that he (and his weird snobbish English accent) have been murdered, it’s BD’s job to put the smack down on the smack dealers responsible. First on his list? Local drug kingpin Rafelli (played by perpetual movie goomba Mike Starr, the “gas man” from Dumb & Dumber), whom our hero gets to by shaking down local info sources with names like Cream Corn (Tommy Davidson) and Chicago Wind (Mykelti Williamson). Though Raf’s comeuppance montage is disappointingly short compared to the time spent finding him, his end is just the beginning of our hero’s journey. With the big man in town taken down, Black Dynamite and his collected crew of good guys uncover a 7 layer bean dip of craziness, with each layer crazier than the last! All I’ll say is that a global conspiracy is unmasked meant to take down the pride of every black man, and it touches on BD’s time in both ‘Nam and the CIA… oh, and it involves a shitload of fucking complicated Greek mythology and astrology, and the Great Emancipator himself! DY-NO-MITE! DY-NO-MITE!
There is a LOT going on in Black Dynamite, but since it comes in just under my 5 year moratorium on spoilers, I won’t say anymore than I already have. Suffice it to say that I’ve barely scratched the surface of what turns out to be a VERY thick watermelon… that wasn’t racist, it was a joke made within the tone of the movie! Shut up. Anyway, there’s SO much material on display here, it’s almost too much. Movies need rest periods to give the audience a chance to catch a breather, lest they suffocate. Though these cool down scenes do happen, the first 35-45 minutes lay it on a bit heavy with everything that gets stuffed into them. The whole thing is a great joke, but the joke needs to be a little better paced in the first half. I felt like I needed an intravenous Red Bull feed and a Speedball or two to keep up before finally turning the movie off entirely and coming back to it later. Maybe I’m just too old, or maybe I’m just not the best target for the “keep the joke running so long that it stops being funny, then push it even longer until it just becomes funny again” method of mirth.
Either way, Black Dynamite is still incredibly funny and incredibly well produced. Unlike the Grindhouse homages from the recent past (Death Proof, Planet Terror, Machete, etc.) Dynamite doesn’t embrace just the motif, but also keeps its setting planted firmly in the era of the movies it mimics. So, rather than be a modern movie shot through a crap filter for camp value, it feels more like a legit Blaxploitation flick. That legitimacy is faked with sepia filters, audio skips, boom mics, actors looking into the camera or at off-screen distractions, fight bloopers, out-of-focus shots, over-explained plot points, gibberish jive talk, excessive use of racial slurs (well, that’s pretty common in today’s actual movies, to be honest), a soundtrack of songs that narrate what you’re watching, and even poorly read lines kept from their first takes because film was too expensive to waste. It’s a production by people who obviously love the genre it spoofs and made sure to cover all the bases.
The cast is also great. Michael Jai White flexes his funny bone and gives me something to remember him by other than playing Spawn as he spews a near endless barrage of quotable lines in the guise of Black Dynamite, while co-writer Byron Minns shines diamond-like as BD’s boisterous rhyming sidekick Bullhorn! Although BD is the star and thus gets all the best dialogue and action, Bull gets an awesome slew of great moments of his own, mostly for flubbing lines that go nowhere, but get delivered with this ridiculous energy and enthusiasm that leave you no choice but to love the guy! I love you, Bullhorn! YEAH! Even the movie’s cameos are great! I mean, I’m not a big fan of Tommy Davidson or Arsenio Hall, but Cedric Yarborough (Reno 911!), Irwin Keyes (Charles Band’s Oblivion duology), and Phil Morris are always fun to see. And as mentioned before, I can’t not like a Miguel Nunez appearance. And when his character’s a pimp named Mo Bitches who makes prostitution jokes? Sold.
In a world where I’m Gonna Git You Sucka exists, is Black Dynamite really necessary? Yes. Yes it is. In fact, it more than earns a slot on a double bill with the Keenan Ivory Wayans classic. Despite the collective professional inexperience of its writers, Black Dyanmite deserves a place amidst the best movies of guys like Mel Brooks and Jim Abrahms and the Zuckers. But not Pat Proft, because he wrote The Star Wars Holiday Special and that’s punishable by being drawn and quartered in some countries. Will we ever see a Black Dynamite 2: the Blackening/Electric Jiggaboogaloo/the Legend of Jheri Curly’s Gold? I don’t know. Given that the movie did manage to spawn (no Michael Jai White pun intended) a cartoon series, and given the lengths of hilarious overkill said series took our titular hero to, I think BD has gone as far as he can go, really. And that’s fine. After all, look at what happened with Austin Powers. After three of those Mike Myers lost his mind and made The Love Guru just to make people hate him so they’d stop begging him to do more Austin Powers sequels! No, let’s not go overboard. Let’s leave the Black Dynamite legacy as it stands and just enjoy it this way: in its purest, blackest form. It’ll give you a zest for some kung-fu treachery!
Happy Black History month, everybody! Now, I’ve gotta go solicit a miner for our next episode, so you go watch Amistad or Glory or Roots or Ghost Dad or something. But no Tyler Perry movies! That’s racist.
Moral(s) of the Story: Black Dynamite is a bevy of educational content. Here are just a few of the valuable lessons to be learned by ALL races from this movie:
- You haven’t reached the apex of societal status until you’ve got an 8 Track player in EVERY ROOM.
Donuts don’t wear alligator shoes. If you see one as such, shoot it without question.
Waffles are like Xanax for irate black men… thus I now suspect Leslie Knope is a secret black man.
Black dudes LOVE Greek & Romanc mythology. They know that shit like the lyrics to the Commodores catalog!
Abraham Lincoln was so hardcore about watching the black man’s back, that he’s still doing it from beyond the grave!
When you pop the top, the panties drop!… unless you’re popping Top Pop Blue Pop, in which case I will break your fingers if you don’t hand it over. That stuff’s my crack. I’ve been dry for 15 years, but I will turn like a lycanthrope in the light of a full moon if I ever see it again.
You know those times where you’re REALLY hoping that the people around you don’t realize you’re the one who farted? They know.
If Tom Atkins and Kurtwood Smith had a baby.
An old woman somewhere is going cold this winter… a very tall old woman.
Those scrolls? They all say “Made in China. May contain dangerous levels of lead.”
“Who? Okay, hold on. Let me check. ‘AMANDA HUGGENKISS’? ‘AMANDA HUGGENKISS’?! Awwww, why can’t I find Amanda Huggenkiss?!”
And number one on this week’s Threatdown? BEARS! AND THEY’RE ALIGNING WITH BLACK MILITANTS! All white people and salmon, run for the hills! Wait! Not the hills! There are BEARS there! Ahhhhh!
Normally I have to say NO to ascots. But, damn it, I love you Bullhorn!
You may be afraid of his fist, but you SHOULD be afraid of the other fist he’s got hidden in his mustache. Hits WAY harder than the one in Chuck Norris’ beard.
“Sorry my brothers, but ever since Disney bought Marvel, they’ve been threatening to sue us if we don’t change our name. Now, we can fight the Man, but we can’t go to war with Disney. If we publicly announce that we’re the African-American Panthers now, they’ll call off their lawyers.”
She’s a liberated, modern woman. She doesn’t carry feminine trappings like a purse. She keeps her keys and other necessities in her hair.
After taking in a down-on-his-luck Bullhorn, Black Dynamite comes home to discover a very angry looking dump left on his favorite area rug. Looks like somebody’s going back to the shelter!
Poor kid just got a whiff or Dynamite’s mustache.
David Hyde Pierce’s post-“Frasier” career just isn’t working out like he’d hoped.
“Citizens need not fear though, as Mayor Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson has vowed to ‘Layeth more smack down’ in coming weeks.”
Looks like this guy also got a whiff of BD’s mustache.
The “worst nightmare” scenario for any member of the Republican party.
Don’t worry Dynamite, EVERY guy makes that face when he watches a live birth. We don’t think you any less of a man.
Anubis will return next time in